Love, Reign Over Me
(Rated R for language and sexual situations)
Lindy said goodbye to her co-workers and left Coffee Espress for the night. She took a breath of the cool February air, and set off for her apartment. It was less than a mile, and she liked the walk, especially in the evening. She walked down L street and came to her apartment. Washington was a pretty town by night, especially in this area.
After she let herself in, she made straight for the fridge, and grabbed a soda. She glanced at the pile of coursework on her desk, and flopped down on the sofa. It had started off small, as most piles usually do. Now it was threatening to topple over any day now.
She stretched out and relaxed. Her job wasn’t hard, and she was used to being on her feet all day, but it still felt so good to let her poor feet rest for a while.
The phone rang., startling Lindy. Frowning a little, she grabbed it and answered it.
“Lindy!” A familiar voice came through the phone.
Lindy smiled. “Hi, Quinn.”
“I thought I’d give you a call and see how things were. We haven’t talked in a while.”
“Not for at least a week.”
“Well, you know me. The phone’s like another part of my arm.”
Lindy grinned. It was good to hear a familiar voice. “How’s Pepperhill?”
“Oh, you know. Work, fun, the great masses of people who need my fashion expertise.”
“And I thought you’d given up all that fashion stuff.”
“When you have a gift, Lindy, you have to use it. Don’t worry, though, I’m nicer about it than I used to be.”
“That’s not hard,” Lindy said jokingly.
“Hey,” said Quinn with mock indignation. “So how’s GWU?”
“Work.” Lindy paused. “Work. My job. Counseling. More work.”
“Well, I knew it was going to be like this. Don’t worry, I can handle it.”
Lindy took a sip of her soda. Realizing Quinn could hear it, she quickly added: “That’s just soda, Quinn. Just so you know.”
“I know, Lindy,” said Quinn softly.
“So,” said Lindy, changing the subject, quickly, “ anyone in your life now? I’m sure you have them lining up.”
“Yeah,” said Quinn, “but they’re never the right person.”
“You’re so picky.”
“Yeah. So how about you? Any guys or girls in your life?”
“No,” said Lindy. “I don’t really have the time, with everything that’s going on. Plus, I come with a lot of baggage, you know?”
“You’ll find someone, Lindy. I know it.”
“Maybe. So, are we still on for May? You’ll come to see me right after exams?”
“Wouldn’t miss it. I’m going up to see my sister in Boston first, then I’ll be right down, okay?”
“It’ll be so good to see you again, Quinn.”
“You too, Lindy. Hey, I have to go. Call me, okay?”
“Sure.” Lindy hung up, and stretched out on the sofa again. It had been so good to hear Quinn’s voice again. She didn’t really have a lot of friends in DC. There was her co-workers, and her classmates, but she wasn’t really close to any of them.
She was glad she and Quinn managed to stay in touch, even after all that had happened between them. Sometimes, she thought it was a miracle Quinn had still wanted to be friends after what had happened. Quinn was like that, though. Lindy thought back to all the times that Quinn had helped her, and smiled. Quinn was something else, all right. On the surface, she had seemed to be a vacant fashion fiend. Lindy had always hated them - they had always teased her about her clothes and appearance, not understanding what it had been like to grow up in a broken home with an alcoholic mother. Inside, though, Quinn was a very caring, giving person. Lindy didn’t know how she would have made it through the last few years without her. At one point, she had hoped more than anything that she and Quinn could be more than friends, but that hadn’t worked out so well. She was happy to have her as a friend, though. Things did get kind of lonely after a while, though. Her love life had been on hold for seemingly forever.
Lindy sighed, and got up. Time to do some coursework.
After what seemed like an eternity spent in front of the computer, she decided that that was enough for tonight. She got up, and stripped, leaving her clothes on the floor, and slid into bed, pulling the covers over herself. There were worse things in life than being lonely, though. She had a job that paid the bills, her school life was going excellently, and she had her life under control at last. Plus, you never knew - maybe she would meet some wonderful person who would just sweep her away, and her love life would sparkle at last.
Lindy snorted to herself, and pulled the blanket over her bare shoulders. Given her life to date, that wasn’t very likely.
The next day, after work, Lindy rushed home, and began to change. She had plans for tonight. Even though she did her own stuff a lot less frequently than she used to, she still had a keen interest in art. There was an art gallery not terribly far away called FuseBox, which showcased new and upcoming artists. Lindy found herself going there quite a bit. So often, in fact, that she was on pretty good terms with some of the people who were regularly displayed there. There were a couple of new exhibitions starting today, and Lindy wanted to check them out. And, of course, she wanted to look her best.
She finished getting ready, and took a quick look at herself in the mirror. If she was going to be perfectly honest, Lindy thought she looked pretty damn hot. She was wearing her best blue pants, and her nicest blue jacket. Blue definitely accented her eyes, she thought. And it made her blonde hair stand out rather well. After all, if there was someone there she was interested in, she had to look her best for attracting him or her. Not that she was going to meet anyone. That would be too much good luck for her, considering how her life normally went.
She took a final look at herself in the mirror, and left.
She reached FuseBox in a short while, and went inside. The usual arty types were there, mulling around, and making pseudo-profound statements about the various displays. Lindy said hi to the people she knew there, and wandered around, taking in everything there. Nothing was really grabbing Lindy’s eyes, though. Nothing there seemed to be of a terribly good standard.
That was, until she reached one of the smaller exhibits. It was a display of pastel sketches. Lindy didn’t know why, but they caught her eye, and she stopped to take a closer look. She stood there for a while, taking in the sketches. They really were quite good, and threw the rest of the place into sharp relief. Lindy took a look around, but she couldn’t see that artist’s name anywhere.
“That’s typical, really.”
Lindy glanced round to see who was speaking to her. It was an attractive, dark haired woman with tattoos on her arms. She seemed to be a touch underdressed for the occasion - she was wearing jeans and a tight tank top. She was smiling in a ironic way.
“What?” asked Lindy.
The woman took a step forward. “I said it was typical. Putting the artist’s name where no-one could see it.” Her voice was rather low and sultry.
“Well, I just...” Lindy indicated the sketches. “I just wanted to see who the artist was.”
“You liked them?”
Lindy nodded. “They’re great.”
The woman smiled again. “I wish everyone thought so.”
“Ah,” said Lindy. “You did them.”
“Yeah.” The woman stuck out her hand. “I’m Alison, by the way.”
Lindy took her hand and shook it. “Lindy. Great work,” she said, indicating the sketches.
“Thanks. I wish everyone shared your opinion. You’ve no idea how much I had to go through to get them in here.”
“Some people can’t recognize a good thing when they see it.”
“Don’t I know it.” Alison looked her in the eye. “Obviously you can.”
They were silent for a second, smiling at each other, and taking each other in.
Lindy broke the silence. “Do you do other stuff? I mean, apart from pastels.”
Alison didn’t break her glance. “Yeah. I’m trying to make a career out of it, actually.”
“Really? How’s that going?”
Alison looked away for a second. “Not as well as I’d like it to. I do okay, though.”
“You’re gifted. You’d have to be to do these.”
Alison looked at her again. “So what do you do?”
“I’m a student. At George Washington. I’m doing my Masters there.”
“An academic, huh?”
Lindy smiled. “Is that a problem?”
Alison smiled back. “Not at all. I like smart people.”
There was another short silence, as the two women looked at each other.
“In English,” Lindy added, to break the silence. “I’d like to be a writer someday.”
“Really? Ever had anything published?”
“A short story, here and there. Nothing major.”
“I’d like to read them,” said Alison softly. “I mean, you’ve seen mine, why shouldn’t I see yours?”
Lindy raised an eyebrow. Alison sure was forward. Not that that was a bad thing - Lindy was notoriously awful at making the first move. She hadn’t really expected to meet anyone tonight, but she was glad she’d made the effort to look good now. Tonight was starting to move into the realm of the unknown, and she thought this could only be a good thing.
“Good point,” she said finally. “You know, I do some art stuff, too.”
“Yeah. I work with stained glass sometimes. I make stuff for my friends, mostly.”
“Then I’m definitely going to have to look at your stuff.”
Lindy smiled. Time to be bold. “How about after the show?”
Alison’s smile widened. “That’s just what I was thinking.”
After the gallery closed for the night, Lindy and Alison began to walk back to Lindy’s apartment. Lindy could feel the anticipation and excitement in the air, and it felt good.
“How did you get into art?” she asked Alison.
“My parents,” said Alison. “They were both artists. My Mom helped run this kind of art commune in the summer, and I spent a lot of time there as a kid. I guess it’s in my blood.”
“You from DC?”
“No. Just here for the moment. Lot of good prospects here for art. You?”
Lindy shook her head. “I’m from Lawndale, originally.”
Alison thought about this for a moment. “I used to know a girl from Lawndale.”
“Ah,” said Lindy.
Alison smiled. “Sounds like you’ve been down the same path.”
“Haven’t we all?”
“You know,” said Alison. “I haven’t really seen you on the scene here.”
“No,” said Lindy, a bit awkwardly. “I don’t really go to bars or clubs much.”
“Call yourself a student?” said Alison teasingly.
Lindy smiled slightly uncomfortably.
“So, you like DC?”
Lindy nodded. “I guess. Lot to do, nice scenery. Plus, I can walk or ride the metro everywhere.”
“You don’t have a car?”
“I don’t have a license,” said Lindy quietly. Before Alison could ask why, she quickly changed the subject. “Do you like it?”
“Yeah. Lot of opportunities here.” She smiled. “I haven’t gotten any of them yet, but I’m working on it.”
After a few more minutes, they reached Lindy’s apartment building, and went inside.
“Nice place,” said Alison. “Conveniently placed.”
“Thanks. It’s University owned housing. They help us find a place to live.”
“What’s the rent like?”
“Don’t ask.” They began walking up the stairs to Lindy’s floor.
“Figures. How do you afford this?”
“Student loans, mostly. I work, too. I’m trying to put the fact that I have to pay the loans back eventually out of my mind for right now.” They reached the right floor, and walked over to Lindy’s door. “Here we are. Home sweet home.”
They stood in the doorway for a few seconds, looking at each other. Lindy felt like she knew was going to happen, and it excited her. They went inside, and Lindy closed the door.
“Got anything to drink?” asked Alison.
“Just soda,” said Lindy, in a tone of voice that suggested that this topic shouldn’t be explored any further. Luckily, Alison seemed to take the hint, and grabbed a Coke from the fridge. She opened it, and began to walk around the apartment, taking everything in.
“Thanks. It’s about as nice as a one bedroom can be.”
“How about some music?” said Alison.
Lindy walked over to the CD player, and started flicking through her CD collection.
Bif Naked? Too heavy. Tori Amos? Too flighty. Melissa Etheridge? Too rocky.
She felt someone looking over her shoulder, and turned her head to see Alison looking at her collection, too.
“You have a Boys R Guys CD?” she asked, amusedly.
“I borrowed it from a friend,” said Lindy, “but I didn’t like it.”
Lindy turned back to her collection. She became very aware of how close Alison actually was to her, and resolved to find something as quickly as possible. She eventually selected some Sarah McLachlan, and put it on. They both stood up, and looked at each other for a second.
“How about showing me that art?” said Alison, a grin on her face.
Lindy walked over to the chest in the corner of the room, and opened it. She got out a couple of examples of her stuff, and showed them to Alison.
Alison looked them over for a couple of minutes. “These are really good,” she said finally.
“You’re just saying that.”
Alison shook her head. “Why would I say that? Just to get into your house on false pretenses?”
Lindy raised an eyebrow.
“Really,” Alison said again. “These are good. Ever thought about selling them?”
Lindy shook her head. “I only make them for my best friends, really.”
“Can I have one?”
Lindy smiled. “I don’t really know you well enough to call you a best friend, do I?”
“Would you like to?”
There was another silence, as they looked at each other. Lindy felt like things were moving to some point, and there wasn’t much she could do about it. Not that she wanted to, mind you.
Alison walked towards Lindy, slowly. Lindy walked towards her as well. Things were moving faster now, and Lindy smiled to herself. This was what she’d wanted to happen, ever since the gallery. Alison took Lindy’s face in her hands, and kissed her lightly on the lips. Lindy wrapped her arms around Alison’s neck, and kissed her back. The kiss got deeper, and Lindy parted her lips slightly, hoping Alison would get the invitation. She did, and the kiss deepened again.
They broke off after a short while, and Alison looked Lindy straight in the eyes.
“I see I wasn’t wrong about you. I rarely am.”
“I believe that,” said Lindy softly, gazing back into Alison’s dark, soulful eyes. She leant in, and kissed Alison again. She tasted so good. It had been so long since she’d been with anyone, this was like a breath of air after almost drowning. She felt Alison pull out her scrunchie, letting her long blonde hair fall around her face.
“You have such great looking hair,” whispered Alison. “I can’t let it stay tied up forever.”
Lindy felt her jacket fall to the floor, Alison’s hands exploring her body. She knew her stuff, all right. Lindy didn’t doubt that she had a lot of experience in this kind of situation.
She became dimly aware that Alison’s hands were unbuttoning her pants, and they too fell to the floor. She broke off the kiss, and began kissing down Alison’s neck, Alison moaned softly in pleasure. Her hands ran down Alison’s back, and around to the front of her jeans. As gracefully as she could, she unzipped them and let them fall. Running her hands over Alison’s stomach, she got rid of her tank top.
As soon as it was over her head, Lindy brought her lips up to meet Alison’s. They kissed deeply, and moved slowly to the bedroom. In the back of her mind, Lindy wished she’d taken the time to clean it - her dirty underwear was lying all over the floor. Given the situation, she didn’t think Alison would mind.
They reached the bedroom, and Alison pushed Lindy onto the bed gently. From the bed, Lindy could see Alison strip off the last of her underwear. Her body was perfect, and, as Lindy noted, the tattoos covered more than just her arms.
Alison lay down between Lindy’s legs, and began kissing up her belly. Lindy gasped a little in pleasure as Alison’s arms moved up under her t-shirt, pulling it off, followed shortly after by her bra. Alison brought herself up and kissed her deeply on the lips again, pressing her naked body against Lindy’s. Lindy ran her hands through her hair, and pulled her closer.
Alison broke off and started kissing down below her ribcage, moving over her belly, her hands running down over Lindy’s breasts, down below her waist. Lindy could feel her panties being pulled down, and she lay back, surrendering to the moment, to the ecstasy that she was feeling.
The light streaming in through the window woke Alison up. She stretched and yawned. She took a glance at Lindy beside her. She was still asleep, the covers pulled up over her shoulders.
Alison smiled. Last night had been pretty great. That girl definitely knew what she was doing. She glanced at the alarm clock and frowned. She had someone to meet in a half hour. She glanced over at Lindy again. She looked so cute and relaxed that Alison didn’t want to wake her.
She swung her legs out of bed, and began pulling her clothes on. It wasn’t easy picking out her own in the mass of dirty laundry on the floor.
After she was dressed, she found the nearest pad and scribbled a quick note to Lindy. She definitely wanted to see this girl again. She left the note on the pillow, and quickly kissed Lindy on the forehead. She moaned a little, and turned over on her side. Alison smiled, and walked out the apartment.
As she was leaving, she caught a glimpse of a pay stub on the dresser beside the door. She took a quick look at it, and smiled.
Lindy awoke the next morning, feeling profoundly relaxed. She ran a hand through her mussed-up hair. It was going to take a while to get that back under control, she mused. Last night had been incredible. It had been so long, she’d forgotten how great it could be. It hadn’t hurt that she’d been with someone like Alison. Thinking about Alison, she rolled over to see if she was awake yet.
Alison was gone.
Lindy felt that familiar sinking feeling in her stomach.
I should be used to this by now. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t been used for a cheap fuck before. Of course, I was drunk most of the time back then.
Lindy sighed heavily, until she noticed a small not on top of the pillow. She picked it up and read it. The handwriting was very detailed - ornate, almost.
Lindy - Sorry to run off on you like that, but I had to go meet with a gallery owner. I wanted to wake you, but you looked so cute sleeping I just couldn’t. Thanks for last night - you were amazing. Call me, okay? I’m at (202) 555-1484. Call any time. See you soon (hopefully). I didn’t even get to read your stuff! - A.
p.s. - made some coffee. Hope you don’t mind.
Lindy smiled to herself. Maybe this would turn out to be more than a one-night thing. She pulled herself out of bed, grabbed a t-shirt and some panties from the pile, and headed to the bathroom. She looked at herself in the mirror, and smiled. She definitely had that ‘just-fucked’ look.
Something didn’t seem right. If Alison had left to go see a gallery owner, what time did that make it? She glanced over at the nearest clock.
“Shit!” She had to be in class in ten minutes. She rushed to get ready as quickly as possible.
Lindy hung up her apron, and said her goodbyes to the staff. Another day of study, followed by another day of work. Her life did seem to follow the same pattern day after day. Lindy didn’t really mind, though. The regimented approach did seem to be working for her, though.
Of course, it felt good to add something new to the mix once in a while. Lindy thought back to the previous night, and smiled. Everyone in the cafe could tell she’d met someone - not that she made any sort of attempt to hide it. Todd seemed annoyed more than anything else. Lindy knew he’d had a thing for her ever since she’d started working there. She would have dated him, but his unrelenting sliminess kind of put him out of the running.
She couldn’t wait to see how he’d react when he found out it was a girl she was seeing. Lindy didn’t keep her preferences a secret, but she didn’t broadcast them, especially not to people she didn’t really like. She smiled, as she imagined him. He’d probably use the old “Let me straighten you out, baby” routine. Why did men keep trying that, when it never worked? Not on anyone she knew, anyway.
Actually, she kind of hoped he would try it. Then she could tell him that she did go for guys as well - just not him. She grinned. Maybe that was a little cruel.
Her plan was to get home, shower, change clothes, and call Alison. She hoped she’d be free tonight - she really wanted to see her.
As she left the building, she jumped as a pair of arms encircled her. She turned, and relaxed when she saw it was Alison.
“Alison! You scared the shit out of me!”
Alison kissed her on the back of her neck. “Sorry.”
Lindy turned to face her, and kissed her lightly. “How did you know I worked here?”
Lindy raised an eyebrow.
Alison smiled. “Okay, I saw a pay stub in your apartment. Figured I’d surprise you. Suck the romance out, why don’t you?”
“I think you have some magic,” said Lindy.
“You’ve put me under your spell.”
They set off down the street together. Lindy glanced at Alison. “I was planning to call you tonight, anyway.”
“Sorry I had to leave you so early this morning. I wanted to wake you, but you look so cute like that, especially with your hair all messed up.”
Lindy smiled. “So what do you want to do tonight?”
“I have plans.”
“Oh.” Lindy’s face fell.
“With you, stupid,” said Alison playfully.
“I was hoping you’d say that.”
Alison held up some tickets. “Got the idea from your place you like performance art, right?”
“Got us some tickets to a friend of mine’s show. I think you’ll like it.”
Lindy gave her a look. “Did you go through my entire apartment, or something?”
“Lindy, the way you keep your apartment, anyone could see everything you own without too much effort.”
“True. Sorry, I’m a bit of a mess.” Though I used to be a lot more of one, she thought to herself, wryly.
“Don’t be.” Alison gave her a sultry glance. “I like mess.”
Lindy smiled back. “Any plans for after the show?”
Alison turned back to the road ahead. “I’m sure we’ll think of something.”
And they did.
Lindy awoke with a start. She had felt something in the middle of the night, and it had woken her up. She glanced around in the moonlight, and realized it was just Alison slipping her arms around her in her sleep. She smiled, and relaxed into them, letting Alison spoon her. It had been so long since she had slept in the same bed with someone she had forgotten just how...nice it was to fall asleep in someone’s arms, how nice it felt to wake up with someone holding you. She smiled, and fell to sleep in Alison’s arms.
The weeks passed. February gave way to March, and Spring began to descend on DC. Lindy and Alison’s relationship continued. It was all a bit of a blur to Lindy. She didn’t really have a lot of free time, what with her Masters and her job, but whatever time she did have, she spent with Alison.
Lindy felt she was like a breath of fresh air. She was so free, and energetic, but she never pressured Lindy to pay any less attention to her studies, or work. Any time Lindy worried about that, Alison always reassured her. She spent a lot of time with various artists, and gallery people, anyway, so it wasn’t like her days weren’t busy.
Lindy had never met anyone quite like her. But there were still a couple of problems. It wasn’t Alison. It was her. She felt like she was getting closer and closer to Alison, but there was still a lot of things she hadn’t told her. Things about her past. Lindy didn’t trust very easily - she’d been hurt too many times in the past by people she’d felt close to, and she didn’t want it to happen again. Those things were forming a barrier between them - a small one - but one that could get a lot bigger before long.
She thought Alison could tell that there was still a barrier between them. Lindy didn’t know what Alison thought about that. She hadn’t said anything, and any time the conversation drifted to sensitive areas, Lindy always shied away. Alison had never pressed the issue, but Lindy knew she could sense it.
One day, in late March, they were in Alison’s apartment. Alison was sketching something, and Lindy was trying to work on an English paper. She wasn’t getting very far, though. Her mind was mostly settled on Alison.
“Uh-huh?” Alison looked up from her sketches.
“Where do you see, you know, us?”
Alison cocked her head to the side. “What?”
“You know. You and me. How do you see us?”
“I love spending time with you,” said Alison. “You’re a great person. You’re funny, smart, sexy, and you’re a great lay. We have a lot of fun together.” She went back to her sketches.
Lindy turned back to her paper. “Is that all?”
Alison didn’t look up. “I don’t know. Do you want it to be that, or more?”
Lindy didn’t answer. She went back to her paper, and began typing. She wondered if Alison felt the same way she did. She liked what they had at the moment, but she would like it to go a little further. Lindy knew that the only way they were going to get any further was if she as totally honest about everything.
That night, they were lying in bed. Alison was sleeping, lightly snoring (she claimed she didn’t, but Lindy knew better), and Lindy was sitting up, looking over at her. Alison was asleep on her back, her thick, dark hair splayed out over the pillow. She had a funny half-smile on her face. In the moonlight, she looked absolutely beautiful.
Lindy looked at her, all kinds of thoughts racing through her head. Her feelings for Alison were definitely growing. She hadn’t expected that she’d be in a relationship in the near future, and now that she was in one, it scared the hell out of her. She knew that if she wanted it to go anywhere, she had to be honest, and that was kind of daunting.
She sighed, and got out of bed. She wrapped a sheet around her naked form, and walked to the window. Washington was illuminated by the moonlight. When it looked like this, it definitely added to her romantic feelings. She stood by the window, watching out over the city, until a warm pair of arms came under the sheet and wrapped around her body.
“You scared me, running off like that,” said Alison softly into her ear.
“I was only four feet away,” said Lindy, an amused tone in her voice.
Alison laughed softly, and turned Lindy round, pulling the sheet off her as she did so. It fell to the floor, and Lindy instinctively covered herself up with her hands.
“Come on,” said Alison playfully. “It’s nothing I haven’t seen before.”
Lindy took her arms away and Alison looked at her, and smiled. “You’re beautiful in the moonlight, you know that?”
“That’s just what I was thinking.”
“You should let me draw you sometime.”
Lindy smiled. “You’re just saying that.”
“I don’t joke about my art,” said Alison softly. She wrapped her arms around Lindy, and kissed her. Lindy shivered a little involuntarily as Alison’s naked body pressed up against hers. As they kissed, thoughts ran through Lindy’s mind.
I can’t lose her. I want this to be something more. I want to be with her.
As they fell down on the bed, Lindy knew what she had to do.
The following day was a Saturday, and Lindy had a day off, unusually for her. Alison had had to meet with some of her artist friends in the morning, but they’d agreed to meet after lunch.
It was a beautiful Spring day, so they found themselves walking along one of the paths down by the Potomac. Couples were walking along the side of the river, children were playing, and everyone was trying to avoid the cyclists who kept whizzing past.
“I love days like this,” said Alison. “Inspires me to do some of my best work.”
“I love snow,” said Lindy, “more than this.”
Hey,” said Lindy playfully, “if days like these inspire you, how come you’re not painting?”
“I have better things to do today,” said Alison, looking her in the eye, and smiling.
Lindy flushed a little, and smiled back.
“So where are we going?”
“A little place I know,” said Lindy. “I have something to tell you.”
“Oooh. Mystery! I love mystery women,” said Alison seductively.
“You’re good at that,” said Lindy. “That whole seductive voice thing.”
“How do you think I got you into bed?”
Lindy slapped her on the arm playfully. “I’m not that easy. I bet you’re a menace with that thing when you’re single.”
“Um-hum,” said Alison quickly. Changing the subject, she asked: “So what do you have to tell me?”
“You’ll find out.”
Eventually, they reached a small grassy area, leading down to the riverside itself. It was mostly surrounded by trees, making it kind of secluded, and there was a bench there. Lindy was glad to see it wasn’t occupied. She lead Alison down there, and they sat on the bench. With the trees surrounding them, they couldn’t see the path anymore, and Lindy felt this was private enough. Plus, they had a great view of Washington from across the river.
“Nice view,” said Alison.
“Yeah. I come here when I want to think. It’s nice.”
Alison nodded in agreement.
They were silent for a few seconds. Lindy tried to gather up the strength to tell her. “Alison,” she said finally. “I have something to tell you.”
Alison turned to her. “What?”
“I really like spending time with you. I’ve never met anyone quite like you.”
“Most people tell me that,” said Alison with a grin.
“I mean it. You’re sexy, talented, funny, beautiful, everything. I love what we have now.” Lindy paused. “But I want it to go further, and I think you do too. And if it does, I should be honest with you. You’ve probably figured that there’s some stuff I’ve been keeping from you.”
Alison nodded. “I figured you’d tell me when the time was right.”
Lindy nodded. “You’re right. I have to tell you...” She felt Alison’s hands grasp hers in support, and she was glad for that. “I’m a...” She paused and took a deep breath. “I’m a recovering alcoholic. That’s why I never go to bars or clubs, or have anything but soda and coffee in the house, and why I go to counseling.”
Alison nodded. “I figured it was something like that.”
“It started, well,” Lindy sighed. “I guess it started with my Mom. She was one, and I guessed she passed it on to me. You don’t know what it was like living with her when I was growing up.” Lindy didn’t even want to revisit that part of her life. She wiped angry tears away from her face, as the memories came flooding back.
“What about your Dad?” asked Alison softly.
“Which one?” she asked derisively. “I’ve had so many. I don’t even know who my real father was.”
“I’m sorry.” Alison stroked her face gently.
“Don’t be.” Lindy took a deep breath. “It got really bad when I was in college. I was away from home for the first time, I was free. I could do whatever I wanted, or so I thought. Anyway, I’d been drinking off and on since I was a teenager, you know, like most people do. But when I got into college, it was every night. I was at parties, I had a great time. I always told myself - I’m not my mother. I can stop at any time. I tried to prove it, too. I’d stop for a week at a time, just to prove that I could.” She paused again. “Then, it got worse. I’d start drinking in places you weren’t allowed - like movie theatres, or at my job. I still thought that was okay, though. It’s okay - I can stop for a week at a time! Then, I could stop for six days. Then five. Then four. Pretty soon, I was having trouble stopping for one day. I lost job after job after job. My studies went down the toilet. My life...” She stopped, and took a deep breath. Alison took her hands again, and squeezed them in support. Lindy gave her a grateful smile. “My life was falling apart. I was having blackouts. I couldn’t remember days at a time. I was waking up places, and I wouldn’t know how I got there. You know, how people say you become your parents? I was turning into my mother. I was ruining my life, and everyone who got close to me.”
“What happened?” asked Alison softly.
“There was this girl...” Lindy paused. “She helped me. She stood by me, even though I tried my very best to fuck up our relationship again and again. Finally, she convinced me I had a problem. She made sure I got the treatment I needed. She was just a high school kid back then, but she probably saved my life.”
“Then what happened?”
“I spent a hell of a long time in rehab. I bounced in and out over and over again. Finally, I managed to put my life back in order. I graduated college, and came here, to make a fresh start.”
“So, how long have you been sober?” asked Alison.
“Almost three years.” Lindy smiled a little nervously. “I said I was a mess. Believe me now?”
Alison looked at her for a few seconds. Finally she smiled. “I said I liked messes, remember?”
Lindy smiled, and drew Alison in for a kiss.
A few days later, Lindy was sitting in her apartment, typing out some work on her computer. She smiled to herself. Things were going really well now. She glanced at the computer clock. Nine-thirty. Alison would be here in an hour or so. She had said she had something to take care in Arlington.
The phone rang suddenly. Lindy scowled. Knowing her luck, Alison would have been delayed or something. She picked it up. “Hello?”
“At last! God, where have you been?” The familiar voice came through the speaker loud and clear.
“Hi, Quinn.” Lindy felt a little ashamed. She’d been meaning to call Quinn for a while now, but life had gotten in the way. “Sorry I haven’t been in touch.”
“That’s okay. I was just getting a little worried. For all I know, you could have fallen in love with eighties chic.”
“Or something more serious.”
“What could be more serious than that?”
Lindy smiled. Quinn always knew how to bring a smile to her face. “You’re a riot, Quinn, you know that?”
“I try. So why the big gap?”
“You know, life, work, study.”
“Uh huh.” Quinn didn’t sound very convinced. “So who are they?”
“Your new boyfriend or girlfriend. Come on.”
Lindy grinned. “Quinn, how did you know that?”
Quinn’s voice took on a sly air. “Lindy, you haven’t phoned me in I don’t know how long, and you sound really chipper on the phone. What else could it be?”
“You never cease to amaze me, you know that?”
“I know. Well?” The last word seemed to be stretched out to two syllables.
Lindy smiled. “Her name is Alison. She’s an artist. We’ve been dating for almost two months.”
“Oh Lindy, I’m so happy for you! Is she nice?”
“She’s great,” said Lindy softly. “Things are going so well.”
“That’s great, Lindy. I’m assuming you look good as a couple?”
Lindy grinned. “I don’t think you’ll like her style, Quinn. Lot of tattoos and tank tops and jeans.”
“Ew,” said Quinn jokingly. “I’m kidding. If you like her, I’m happy for you.”
“I do, Quinn. You can meet her in May. You’re still coming, right?”
“Of course. Now that you have a girlfriend, I’ll have to come and make sure you’re compatible.”
“You’ll like her. She’s amazing.”
“She must be,” said Quinn.
“Because when you talk about her, your voice goes all mushy.”
Lindy found herself blushing. “It does not!”
“Of course not.” Quinn’s voice went more serious. “I really am happy for you, Lindy. You deserve someone like that.”
“I wouldn’t have any of it, if it wasn’t for you,” Lindy said softly. “Thank you, Quinn.”
“What are friends for? Hey, I have to dash. I have a date tonight.”
“You too. Bye Lindy.”
“Goodbye, Quinn.” Lindy hung up the phone, and sat back in her chair, smiling. Quinn was right. Her voice did go that way when she was talking about Alison. She couldn’t stop thinking about her either. She sat forward quickly. She had to finish this before Alison got here. She didn’t want to miss any time with her.
“Mmm-hmm?” Alison glanced up from her sketchbook.
It was a pleasant April Sunday. Lindy and Alison were on the grass beside the Washington Monument. Alison was sketching the view, while Lindy was lying on her back on the grass. The Mall area was packed, as it usually was on sunny weekend days. They’d come down to visit the various Smithsonian art museums, and ended up relaxing by the Monument.
Lindy really needed to be home studying for her exams, but she had so little free time to spend with Alison that she had decided to make an exception today. One day wouldn’t hurt, as long as she got back on track tomorrow. She shook herself out of her reverie, as she realized that Alison was looking at her.
“You said my name,” pointed out Alison.
“Oh. Oh yeah!” Lindy shifted a little to get more comfortable. “You ever think about having kids?”
“Not right now. I’m drawing.”
Lindy smiled. “You know what I mean.”
Alison set down her pad, and turned to face Lindy. “What brought that on?”
Lindy gestured around them Everywhere they looked they could see families. Parents with children, laughing, arguing, having fun, screaming. Everything that children usually did.
“I don’t know. You?”
Lindy nodded. (As best as she could, lying on her back) “Yeah. I mean, I guess so. Not for a while, though. I’ve too much going on at the minute. I wouldn’t want to have my own, anyway.”
Alison frowned a little. “Why.”
“Genetics,” said Lindy quietly.
Alison looked at her for a moment, then realized what she was getting at, and changed the subject. “I guess that leaves me with all the hard work, huh?”
Lindy grinned. “Sucks to be you.”
Alison batted her playfully with her pad, and went back to sketching.
Lindy lay back and glanced up at the sky. She didn’t know why she’d asked that particular question right now. Sure, it had been something that had been on her mind for a while, but it definitely was not going to be for a long time. She had to get school finished first, and find someone compatible to spend the rest of her life with.
Had she already found someone like that? Was it Alison? Lindy thought about it. They’d been dating for three months now, and things were going great. Alison practically lived over at her place, except when she had business to take care of.
Lindy put the questions to the back of her mind. Things were wonderful as they were. No point in spoiling things by over analyzing them. Then she realized that Alison was talking to her.
“Where do you go?” asked Alison, an amused tone in her voice. “And can I come next time?”
“You come every time, don’t you?”
Alison hit her with the pad gently again. “Lindy!” she said, an admonishing tone. “There are children here!”
Lindy glanced around. “Yeah, and unless they have super-hearing, they can’t hear me.”
Alison grinned. “You’re right, you know.”
Lindy shot her a look. “What were you talking about anyway?”
“I said ‘Let’s go get some Chinese - I’m buying’.”
“I can definitely go for that.”
They got up, and walked off the grass, and headed home.
Lindy closed the last of the textbooks, and wiped her eyes. They felt so heavy, like they were weighed down. She glanced at the clock nearby, and immediately wished she hadn’t. Studying was a necessary evil, but still an unpleasant one. She felt confident, though. The exams were in two weeks, and she was pretty sure she’d be ready for them. Her GPA had stayed well above the minimum required level, so she was pretty confident about things.
She glanced back towards her bedroom. Through the open door, she could see Alison sleeping. She got up, and walked back there. Pulling off her jeans, she slipped into bed, hoping she wouldn’t wake up Alison.
No such luck. Alison blearily opened her eyes. “Hey. What time is it?” She glanced at the alarm clock. “Shit.”
“Sorry,” mumbled Lindy.
“Don’t be. You’re only doing what you have to, right?” Alison slipped her arms around her. Lindy relaxed into them.
“They’ll be over soon, and then we’ll have all summer, okay?”
Alison kissed her lightly on the lips. “I can’t wait.”
“Hey.” Lindy suddenly remembered something. “I have a friend coming to visit for a few days. Is that okay?”
“Sure. Who is it?”
“Just an old friend. Not that kind of friend,” she added, seeing Alison’s expression. “Not anymore. She’s just...stop that!”
Alison had slipped her hand under Lindy’s t-shirt. Her hand on Lindy’s belly ticked a little. “You know what,” said Lindy, trying not to giggle.
Alison grinned. “Don’t you like it?”
“That’s not the point...” She tailed off, as Alison’s hand slipped out from under the shirt, and up over her face, bringing them closer together. She smiled as she looked into Alison’s dark eyes. “You’re beautiful, you know that?”
“So are you.” Alison smiled back.
Lindy touched Alison‘s cheek lightly. “I love you.”
“What?” Alison’s smile froze.
Lindy didn’t know why she had said it, but after she had, she realized it was true. She loved Alison, more than she’d ever loved anyone. All she wanted to do was spend her life with her.
“What did you say?” asked Alison, a note of doubt creeping into her voice.
“I’m in love with you,” said Lindy softly.
They looked at each other for a few moments, and finally Alison drew Lindy to her, and kissed her deeply. They began to make love, which, to Lindy, felt more passionate and loving than ever. When they finished, Lindy fell asleep in the arms of the woman she loved, holding her tight, and wishing the night wouldn’t end.
It wasn’t until much later that she realized Alison had not said it back.
The moonlight streamed in through the window, catching Alison in the face. It didn’t matter. She couldn’t sleep anyway.
She kept thinking about what Lindy had just told her. She loved her. She was in love with her. Any other time that had happened in her life, Alison had freaked and ran. So what was she going to do this time?
Lindy made an indistinct mumbling sound, and rolled over onto her back. Alison looked at her. She was smiling faintly, her blonde hair sprayed out over her pillow. She looked beautiful in the moonlight.
Alison tried to search how she felt about her. She didn’t know. She didn’t have a lot of experience in that department. She cared for her, certainly, but more? This was getting a lot more serious than she had originally intended.
She rolled over in bed, away from Lindy. This was starting to interfere with her life. This was starting to interfere with what she had to do. Her career was starting to go somewhere now. She couldn’t let that opportunity go. Lindy would understand. Wouldn’t she?
What if she didn’t, though? Alison didn’t have an answer for that one. She closed her eyes and tried to sleep, but it definitely wasn’t coming easy that night.
Lindy walked out of Rome Hall, and started to walk off campus. She had a good feeling about the exams. She didn’t think she’d done badly. All the intensive studying had paid off. Now they were over, and she suddenly had a lot more free time. Plus, she knew exactly how she wanted to spend it. She had the most perfect woman in the world waiting for her. She glanced at her watch.
Damn. I must have gotten the times mixed up.
According to her watch, she wasn’t supposed to meet Alison for another three hours at her apartment. She must have told her the wrong time for the exams. Lindy smiled to herself. At least she’d told Lindy the wrong time, and not gone in at that time. That would have been rather stupid.
She paused a little at the corner of L Street. She had two choices -go home and wait for Alison, or go find her early. Lindy decided to go find her early. Any time she spent with her was valuable.
She walked for a while to get to Alison’s apartment. She could have taken the bus, or the Metro, but she liked to walk. It was a nice day for doing so. As she walked, she thought of Alison and smiled. She hadn’t planned on falling in love, but now that she had, it was a wonderful feeling. She idly thought about asking Alison to move some of her stuff in. After all, she practically lived there anyway. On the other hand, maybe that would put some unneeded stress on their relationship. Maybe Alison would feel like she had to contribute to the rent, or something. Lindy didn’t know how to handle this.
Her smile fell a little, as she thought about the night she’d told her that she loved her. Alison hadn’t actually said that she did in return. Lindy tried to remain optimistic. Maybe she didn’t have a lot of experience with relationships. Maybe she’d kind of intimidated her.
Lindy decided to drop the moving-in idea. If she had been intimidated, best not to further scare her. She’d take this slowly.
She reached Alison’s apartment, and let herself in. As she walked in, she saw Alison in the kitchen, fixing herself some coffee. Alison heard the door open, and turned. When she saw Lindy, she looked shocked.
“Hey.” Lindy walked over to give her a kiss.
Alison stared at her. “What are you doing here so early?”
Lindy gave her a quick kiss. “Got the time mixed up. Figured I’d spend as much time with you as I could.” She paused, and looked at Alison. “What’s wrong? You look stunned, or something.”
Alison glanced towards the bedroom quickly, and Lindy followed her gaze. A tall, dark-haired man, wandered out, buttoning up his pants. He glanced up, and reacted with shock when he saw Lindy.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“Paul,” said Alison quickly, “maybe you’d better go.”
Lindy felt like she had been punched in the gut. All she could do was stare as the man - Paul - gathered his stuff up quickly, and left. Alison shut the door behind him, and didn’t turn around.
Lindy stared at her back for a long time. Finally, she managed to speak. “Who is he?”
Alison didn’t turn around. She was silent.
“Who the fuck was he, Alison?” Lindy’s voice was rising now, even though she was trying hard to keep it level.
“No-one,” said Alison quietly.
“No-one? I walk in here to find that you’ve been fucking someone behind my back, and you tell me it’s no-one?” Lindy felt ill. She felt like her world was falling apart behind her ears, and there was nothing she could do about it.
“It’s not serious.”
“Turn around.” Alison didn’t move. “Turn the fuck around, Alison.”
Alison turned to face her, the expression on her face unreadable. “He’s an artist. It’s just a bit of fun.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
“You don’t understand. He knows a lot of gallery owners. If he could introduce me to them, recommend my work...”
“That doesn’t make it right!” Lindy could feel the tears running down her face. She wiped them away, angrily, but they continued to flow. “You think this makes me feel better?” A sudden, horrible thought came to her. All those meetings Alison had had...what if...
No. Please no.
She voiced her fear. “How many has there been, since we’ve been together?”
Alison looked away. “Not many,” she said quietly.
“Jesus.” Lindy put a hand on the counter to steady herself.
“They weren’t serious, Lindy.”
“Shut up,” said Lindy quietly.
“It was just to help my career. I need this.”
“Shut up!” Lindy said it as venomously as she could. “How do you think that makes me feel? Huh? To know that while we were dating, you were whoring yourself out to the DC art community?”
Alison’s expression changed. Her face clouded over with anger. “What the fuck gives you the right to talk to me that way? You can’t judge me.”
Lindy stared at her. The tears began streaming again. “I love you, Alison. I love you, and I’ve just found out you’ve been fucking half the artists in the state!”
“Stop taking this so seriously! They didn’t mean anything to me!”
“This means something to me! How could you?” Lindy stared at her. “If it wasn’t serious, why didn’t you tell me? Why did you lie to me?”
“I figured you wouldn’t understand.”
“What’s to understand? This is tearing me apart...” Lindy wiped her face again. “The woman I love is fucking her way to the top!”
Alison stared at her, her expression as hard as rock. She flung open the door. “If all you’re going to do is insult me, get the fuck out of my apartment.”
Lindy glanced at her. “What is this? You’re just going to throw me out?”
“You think I like being called a slut in my own apartment?”
“You don’t even want to work this out?” Lindy wiped her face. “After everything we had?”
Alison stared at her, her jaw set. “You’re acting like a stupid little bitch, Lindy. You’re blowing this way out of proportion.”
“Fuck you, Alison.”
“Leave. Now.” Alison looked at her. “I mean it, Lindy.”
Lindy stared at the open doorway for a few moments, and stormed out. She heard it slam behind her. She stood in the hallway for a few moments, and then slumped back against the door. She felt nauseated. She knew the tears were streaming down her face, but she didn’t care any more. All she could do was sit back against the door, and cry.
Alison stood, staring at the door. She couldn’t believe what had just happened. How dare Lindy talk to her that way! Couldn’t that dumb shit see that she’d been telling the truth? All those guys, all those girls - they hadn’t meant anything. She’d gotten what she wanted from them, and they’d gotten what they wanted from her. No-one was hurt, and her career was actually going somewhere now. Couldn’t Lindy see that? Couldn’t she be happy for her?
Alison needed to sit down. She sat, her back against the door, and put her head in her hands, and closed her eyes. If that was true, why did she hurt so much inside?
She knew this would happen. She’d known this would happen. Right from the moment they had gotten more serious. Why had she kept doing it then?
Alison didn’t know. She did have a history of sabotaging her own love life.
Love. Alison thought about it, and laughed, a hollow, empty laugh, with no joy in it. What the hell did she know about love? Lindy was in love with her, that was for sure. Alison didn’t know how she felt about her. She’d never been in love before. Every relationship she’d ever been in had just been for fun. No ties, no emotional attachments. That’s how her parents had been, and that’s how they’d brought her up.
She hadn’t wanted things to get this serious at first. But Lindy was special. Alison had known it right after that first night. Maybe, deep down, she had wanted it to get this serious, and subtly encouraged Lindy.
Alison didn’t know what to do. She was still pissed at Lindy. She had had no right to talk to her that way, even if Alison had hurt her.
Except that Lindy was upset mainly because Alison had given the idea that they were serious. And she’d lied to her. Betrayed their trust.
But she still shouldn’t have talked to her like that.
Alison honestly did not have an answer.
She stood up, conflicting emotions running through her mind. She felt something wet roll down her cheek, and angrily brushed it away. On a whim, she opened the door, to see if maybe, just maybe...
But Lindy was gone.
Lindy half-walked, half-ran down the streets, heading back to her apartment. She couldn’t believe this. She had trusted Alison so much, given all of herself to her, and Alison had just taken that, and fucked her. Just like everyone else. Lindy, everyone’s favorite screw-up. Lindy, who’s no-one’s ever going to love. Lindy, who everyone leaves in the end. Who was she kidding? She wasn’t going to make anything with her life. She was going to end up just like her mother, a pathetic wretch, ignored by everyone and hated by the people she used to care for.
She reached her apartment, and went inside, slamming the door behind her, and collapsing to the floor, tears streaming down her face. She didn’t move for what seemed like hours. She couldn’t get up the energy. Nothing mattered any more. Nothing was important.
Lindy caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She looked like a wreck, a mess of tears and makeup running down her face. She looked completely pathetic.
The phone rang suddenly. Lindy figured she’d just let it ring. And it did. It rang, and it rang and it rang. As it rang, Lindy kept looking at the mess she saw in the mirror. That person who fooled herself into thinking that her life would ever be more than a disaster.
The phone kept ringing. Finally, she picked it up and threw it as hard as she could against the mirror, shattering it.
Lindy got up. She had to get out of here. She wiped her face and left.
Lindy sat on the steps in front of the Lincoln Monument, staring straight in front of her. She had no more tears left in her, and now she just felt empty inside. She should have known this would happen. The people she loved always ended up hurting her in the end. Every relationship she had ever had had ended in disaster, right back to her Mom.
Her Mom. Lindy honestly didn’t know if she was dead or alive, and she really didn’t care. What type of person did that make her? No wonder everything always ended in disaster for her. It wasn’t anyone else’s fault - just hers.
Her head fell. She had honestly felt like things had been going so well. She should have really known better.
She felt herself begin to cry again. She just hurt so much inside. She wanted nothing more than to make all the hurt and pain inside go away. She knew how to do it.
Lindy got up, and began walking slowly back towards the city center. She knew that what she was about to do was stupid, and would probably end up in disaster, but she didn’t care. She just didn’t care any more. All she wanted was to make the pain and regret inside her go away.
Lindy sat in the booth, dully staring in front of her. She’d just gone into the first bar she could find. She didn’t care what it was. All she wanted to do was get drunk. That way, she’d never remember anything of what had happened, and all of her pain would just go away.
Deep down, she knew exactly what she was doing, but she couldn’t bring herself to care.
As she knocked back another shot, someone sidled into the booth. It was a dark haired guy, fairly handsome, with a dark blue sweater on.
Lindy glanced up.
“Hi,” he said.
“Go away,” said Lindy quietly. Her speech was already beginning to become slurred.
“Look,” he said. “My name’s...”
“I don’t care. I didn’t say you could sit there.”
“I know. It’s just, I think you’ve had a little too much to drink already, and it doesn’t look like you’re about to stop any time soon.”
“Hadn’t planned on it.”
“I don’t know what happened to you, but this isn’t...”
“No. You don’t know.”
“All I’m saying is that there’s other ways...”
Lindy was getting pissed. “Do you like going around and telling people what they should and shouldn’t do? Do you get a thrill of it, or something? Or are you trying to act like some kind of fucking good Samaritan, so I’ll get all wet and want to screw you?”
The guy looked surprised. “If you ask me...”
“No-one did fucking ask you.”
He frowned. “Fine,” he said, getting up. “Don’t say I didn’t try.”
“Go fuck yourself,” said Lindy angrily. Then she glanced back down at the table, and thought of Alison suddenly. The thought brought all the hurt and pain inside her to come right up. Lindy couldn’t handle it anymore. She poured herself another drink, and tried to block it out.
Lindy awoke suddenly. Everything around her seemed blurred and indistinct. There was a buzzing in her ears, and her head hurt like crazy. She couldn’t remember where she was or what was going on. Her throat felt raw, and her eyes felt heavy, so heavy that she could barely open them.
She tried to open them the full way, and got more light than she could handle. She tried to block the light with her hand, but she could barely move. Her whole body felt sluggish and heavy.
“Lindy?” Someone was talking to her. She tried to focus, and eventually a redhead came into focus.
“Quinn?” Lindy could barely get the words out.
Quinn nodded. “It’s me. What happened, Lindy?”
Lindy rolled over. “Go away, Quinn.”
“Go away? With you like this? I found you sprawled on the floor of your apartment. What were you thinking?”
“Well, I do. How many days have you been like this?”
Lindy tried to think, but the last few days were just a blur in her mind. She didn’t how much time had passed or what had gone on. “Don’t know.”
“I thought so.” Quinn helped Lindy off her bed. “Come on.”
“Where’m I going?”
“A rehab clinic. I found one nearby. You‘re already packed.” She put an arm around Lindy. “I called them. They have a bed waiting for you.”
Lindy tried to break free, but she was too weak to do it. “No. Don’t need it.”
“With the amount you’ve been drinking? There’s bottles all around her, Lindy. You can’t do this by yourself. You’re going, even if I have to carry you.”
“No...leave me alone.”
Quinn looked at her in the eyes. “Lindy,” she said firmly. “You’re going, okay? Even if I have to drag you. You remember the last time you told me you didn’t have a problem? I believed you and look where it got you. I’m not going to be responsible for you drinking yourself into oblivion, okay?”
Lindy gave up and sagged in Quinn’s arms. “Okay.”
Quinn helped her down to her car, and began driving.
The events of the next week became a blur in Lindy’s mind. She’d been through this all before, so it all seemed unpleasantly familiar. They arrived, checked in, and they began getting Lindy ready for detoxification procedures. Lindy couldn’t believe what she had just done. She still felt really bad. This was one of the worst hangovers she had ever had. Given the amount she had probably drunk, that wasn’t surprising. She was both glad and sorry that Quinn had shown up. Glad, because without her, Lindy probably would still be at home, or at a bar, trying to drink herself into oblivion. Sorry because she felt that she’d let her down. Quinn had helped her through all of her problems, and now she had had a relapse, and Quinn had had to pull her ass out of the fire again.
Lindy lay back. She could feel the nurses beginning to wire her up, and she closed her eyes, and let everything go black.
A little over a week later, Lindy finished one of her one-on-one sessions, and walked out to the visitor’s area, to find Quinn sitting there, flicking through a book.
“You with a book?” said Lindy. “How long was I gone?”
Quinn smiled, and gave her a hug. “Hi, Lindy.”
Lindy sat down wearily, and sighed.
“How are you?”
“I’m okay. I mean, at least I’m not being pumped full of tranquilizers and sedatives like I was for the first few days.”
Quinn grimaced. “Ew.”
“Well, it helps with the withdrawal symptoms.”
“How is it going?”
“The treatment? Great, so far. I mean, everyone here, the counselors and the nurses, and there’s some interesting people in my groups sessions, so it never gets boring.”
“At least they let you get out of that hospital gown you were in. Those things are so tasteless.”
“At least the detox is over. They said I was lucky I didn’t get alcohol poisoning.”
Quinn grimaced. “Ew. But you’re doing okay?”
Lindy nodded. “Don’t worry, Quinn. I actually want to get better this time. Not like the first time I was in a place like this. Or the second.”
Lindy glanced down. “Quinn,” she said quietly. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay, Lindy.” Quinn put a hand on her shoulder. “I was just worried about you.”
“But Quinn, I promised you...I mean, I’m sure you must have other things you had planned for the summer.”
“Nothing that couldn’t be cancelled.”
Lindy put a hand over her face. “And my job! They’ve definitely fired me now.”
“There’ll be other jobs.”
Lindy tried to smile. “At least it happened after class finished. Do you know what would have happened if I’d gone on campus drunk, or with an open bottle?”
“I can guess.” Quinn gave her shoulder a comforting squeeze. “I’ve been staying in your apartment. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Go right ahead.”
“Oh, and I’ve been taking care of your bills too. You had some cash saved in your checking account, and your signature is really easy to fake.”
“Quinn, you don’t need to do...”
“It’s okay,” said Quinn. “What kind of friend would I be if I let you go through this all by yourself?” Her voice went a little more serious. “Lindy, what happened? I mean, by the looks of your apartment, you‘d been that way for a while.”
Lindy nodded her head. “I just wanted to block everything out.”
Quinn took her hands. “What happened?”
Lindy took a deep breath, and told Quinn everything that had happened with Alison, right from the moment they met, until the moment she stormed out of her apartment. After she had heard this, Quinn’s eye flashed over with anger, but then subsided.
“I’m sorry, Lindy,” said Quinn softly.
“It’s okay,” said Lindy unconvincingly. “I mean, it’s okay, really. It just...” She tailed off, and was silent for a few seconds. “It still hurts, you know? Even after all she’s done, I can‘t stop loving her.” She wiped at her eyes angrily, and sighed heavily.
Quinn smiled in support, and drew Lindy to her for a hug.
Lindy broke free, and smiled at Quinn. “I have to go. I’ve got a group session coming up. I can’t be late.”
“Okay.” Quinn stroked her face gently. “Everything will work out, Lindy. I know it.”
“Thanks,” said Lindy awkwardly.
Quinn smiled a final time, and left.
After another three weeks, Lindy’s treatment was finished. She was discharged, given follow-up instructions and appointments, and left. She found Quinn waiting for her in the parking lot.
“Hey,” said Quinn.
“Going my way?” said Lindy, smiling.
Lindy got in, and they drove away from the clinic. They went, and got a bite to eat. After hospital food for almost a month, Lindy was starving for some real food. It took a while, because every time Lindy would make a suggestion, Quinn pooh-poohed it, claming that the food there was too unhealthy. After finally reaching a compromise by finding a restaurant with a good salad bar, they settled down for dinner.
Lindy tore into her burger with great gusto, while Quinn looked on with thinly-disguised disgust. “What?” said Lindy.
“All that grease,” said Quinn. “How can you do it?”
“It’s easy. You should try this, Quinn. You’ve no idea what you’re missing out on. You can’t live on salads and carrot sticks forever.”
“Hey, I’ve changed my diet.”
Lindy raised an eyebrow.
“I have,” said Quinn. “My doctor said I was underweight.”
“You? Never,” said Lindy, a heavy air of sarcasm in her tone. “Though I did notice you aren’t quite a rail-thin as you used to be.”
“It was a compliment, Quinn. You really do look great.”
“Thank you, Lindy, And you look...”
“Like someone who’s just been through rehab,” cut in Lindy, smiling weakly.
Quinn returned the smile, and they went back to dinner.
The door to Lindy’s apartment swung open, and Quinn walked in, followed by Lindy.
“It’s great to be back home,” said Lindy, glancing round the room. “I missed...” She tailed off, as she saw the living room. “What the hell happened to my apartment?”
The apartment was totally cleaned up. All of Lindy’s dirty underwear had been cleaned off the floor, her school stuff was neatly arranged on the bookshelves, and the furniture had been rearranged fairly dramatically.
“I did some cleaning,” said Quinn. “Not personally, of course, but I couldn’t stay in such a badly laid out apartment. You don’t mind, do you?”
Lindy shook her head in disbelief. “Quinn, I’ve seen your room. You live like a slob. What’s with this?”
Quinn shrugged. “I got this great book on Feng Shui recently. It says if you’re returning to your house after an absence, you should arrange the stuff for maximum karma or some crap like that. Had to be worth a shot.” She shot Lindy a look. “Besides, when it comes to slobbiness, I do draw the line somewhere.”
“Quinn, you’re something else, you know that?”
Quinn smiled. “You have no idea.” She yawned suddenly. “I’m worn out. I think I’m going to call it a night.”
Quinn indicated the bedroom. “You can go ahead and get your own bed back tonight. I’ll take the couch, It might play havoc with my hair, but we all have to make sacrifices, right?”
Lindy glanced at the bedroom, then back to Quinn. “You don’t have to,” she said quietly.
Quinn looked at her, a confused expression on her face.
Lindy moved closer to Quinn, until she was practically touching her. “I mean, I don’t mind...I mean, I’d like it if...” She tailed off, and brought her hand up to stroke Quinn’s face gently. She looked into Quinn’s eyes, those beautiful green eyes. Quinn looked back, still looking kind of lost. In the back of her mind, Lindy knew this was a terrible idea, but the memories of Alison were still far too fresh in her mind.
“Quinn...thank you,” she said quietly, no more than a whisper. Stroking Quinn’s face gently, she moved in slowly. Her lips brushed against Quinn’s...
Quinn moved away suddenly. She placed a finger gently on Lindy’s lips. “Lindy,” she said sadly, “this is a bad idea. You know that.”
Lindy took a step back. “I’m sorry,” she said quickly. “I didn’t mean...”
“It’s okay,” said Quinn. “Really. I just don’t think it would be a great idea for you to leap into a new relationship right now, even if I still thought of you in that way.”
Lindy nodded. “You’re right. God, Quinn, I’m so sorry. I’m a wreck.”
Quinn took her hands. “It‘s okay, Lindy. I’ll see you in the morning, okay?” She smiled supportively.
Lindy gave her a quick half-smile, and walked into her room, closing the door behind her. She pulled off her pants, and climbed into bed. What had she been thinking? She knew that a relationship with Quinn was not going to work, so why had she just tried to make a pass at her? There had been that brief time a while ago, but she accepted that Quinn and her would never work out, and moved on. No point in dredging up the past.
Instinctively, she moved her arm towards the empty spot on the other side of the bed. She knew why she had done it. She hadn’t wanted to be alone tonight. There was still a large hole in her where Alison had used to be, and Lindy wanted it filled. Going after Quinn probably wasn’t the best idea, though. The Alison situation had to be sorted out somehow. Lindy didn’t know how, but it did. That was later, though. For now, Lindy had put the rest of her life back together.
Before falling asleep, Lindy smiled to herself wryly. How screwed up was that? She tried to seduce her best friend on the day she got out of rehab. She was definitely a mess.
Somehow, that didn’t really seem funny anymore.
Lindy woke the next morning, and walked out to the kitchen. The sofa was empty. Lindy frowned, and glanced around the apartment. There was a note pinned to the kitchen counter. It read:
Lindy! I had to rush out for a little bit. Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be back before lunch. I think we ought to go to that little Italian place on K street. How’s that sound? Anyway, I’ll be back in a little bit. Check the fridge - should be plenty for breakfast. Love, Quinn.
It was definitely Quinn’s work. The paper was scented, and immaculately designed. Lindy smiled, and opened the fridge. She frowned, as she looked through it. There was nothing in here but health food. Lindy shrugged. Quinn meant well., but on food issues, they definitely weren’t compatible.
Alison stood back, and watched as the workmen moved the various paintings and displays into place. She shouted a couple of instructions and seethed. They never seemed to show the proper amount of care with her work. Now that she was moving into a larger gallery, it was important to keep her stuff looking good.
She walked over to the nearest chair, and sat down, grabbing her glass of wine, and sipping it. The workmen finished, and left for lunch. Alison looked over her displays. They were pretty good, even if she did say so herself. This was a big break for her. This was a much larger gallery than FuseBox, with a more prestigious clientele. Opportunities were finally beginning to open up for her, after all those years of trying.
It came at such a high price, though, didn’t it?
Alison felt her hand shaking, and put down the wine. She tried to out that thought out of her head. She’d done her part. She’d been trying to get in touch with Lindy for the past month, with no answer and no returned phone calls. Not even a simple ’Fuck you’.
Eventually she’d given up. It was obvious Lindy never wanted to talk to her ever again, and that was fine with Alison.
Alison was shaken from her thoughts by someone calling her name. She looked up to see who it was. There was an stunning redhead standing beside her. She looked like one those people who simply looked stylish no matter where they were. Normally, faced with someone like that, Alison would have slipped into seductive mode, but given all that had happened, she just looked at her. “What do you want?”
“You’re Alison, right?” The redhead had a fairly nasal voice. She wasn’t that perfect, obviously.
“I’m Quinn Morgendorffer,” she said. “They told me you’d be up here.”
“Can I help you with something?” said Alison. She really didn’t have a lot of time for this, even if it was coming from a highly attractive redhead.
“It’s about Lindy.”
Alison turned away. Her mouth hardened. “What about her?”
“I think we should go somewhere else, and talk about it.”
“I don’t,” said Alison firmly. “If she wanted to talk to me, she would have answered the phone over the last month. I tried to patch things up then, and if she wants to do it now, tough.”
Quinn’s nose crinkled up in anger. “She wasn’t home for another reason.”
“What - she was out screwing you?” Alison was getting pissed.
“She was in rehab,” said Quinn quietly.
Alison’s face fell. “I...” She tailed off. “I’m sorry.”
“Uh-huh,” said Quinn. “Let’s go.”
A few minutes later, they were sitting down at the Gallery’s cafeteria. Neither Quinn nor Alison had said anything for a few minutes. Alison was staring down at her coffee, fiddling with the spoon awkwardly.
“Is she all right?” she asked finally.
“She’s fine now,” said Quinn. “If I hadn’t been coming up...” She tailed off.
“I’m sorry about that crack I made.”
“It’s okay.” Quinn stared at her. “I think you have a lot more to be sorry about.”
Alison could feel annoyance rising in her again. Who was this self-righteous bitch, anyway? Where did she get off talking to her like this?
Because she’s Lindy’s friend. Because Lindy just spent a month in rehab, and she’s sitting opposite the person she thinks is responsible. Even though I’m not. I didn’t know that would happen. I didn’t know she would overreact like that.
Overreact? She had just found out her girlfriend was screwing someone else - quite a few other people in fact. How was she supposed to react? Alison didn’t feel very good inside all of a sudden.
“Why are you here?” she asked impatiently.
“I wanted to talk to you about her,” said Quinn. “I wanted to know exactly how you feel about her.”
“Because she still loves you, Alison. I think she always will, even though I can’t understand why.”
Alison let the veiled insult pass by. “I know. She told me.”
Quinn nodded. “She also told me quite a few other things. She told me that she thought you wanted to get more serious. She thought that you wanted to move things on. That’s why she opened up to you. That’s probably one of the reasons she fell in love with you.”
Alison did not say anything.
Quinn looked at her. “So?”
“How do you feel about her?”
“What do you want me to say?”
Quinn frowned. “What I really want is for you to say that you don’t have any feelings for her. That way you can leave now, and you’ll never be able to hurt her again.” She took a deep breath. “But what I want most is the truth.”
Alison looked at her. She didn’t know what to make of this girl. At first glance she seemed like a vacuous fashion clotheshorse. She didn’t speak like one, though. She was smart, definitely, and it didn’t look like she took a lot of shit. She obviously cared a great deal for Lindy. She got the impression they had been close in the past, and still were, to an extent. Alison got the feeling she didn’t want to get on her bad side.
Quinn cocked her head to the side. “Well?”
Alison turned away briefly. How did she feel? She had had a lot of time to think about this over the past month. She’d eventually concluded that Lindy had not wanted anything to do with her. How had that made her feel? Lost, unhappy, depressed. She’d thrown herself into her work, but the feelings had never gone away.
And then there was the matter of making Lindy get closer to her, even without meaning to. Except that she realized now that she had been meaning to. She had wanted it to go that far. She just had no experience in this sort of thing - she didn’t know how to handle it. That’s why she had continued to act the way she had.
She’d had something wonderful, and then she’d fucked it up royally.
Alison sighed. She turned back to Quinn, who was waiting intently. She glanced up at her quickly, and then kept staring downwards. “I love her,” she said softly.
Quinn’s expression was unreadable. “Okay.” She got up, and moved to leave.
“Wait!” said Alison anxiously. “Where are you going?”
“I have to think about what to do now,” said Quinn. “I wasn’t expecting you to say that.”
“Can’t I see Lindy?”
“She’s not ready yet, Alison. You know that.”
Alison nodded sadly.
“Look,” said Quinn, “I’ll call you when I think she’s ready, okay?”
Alison nodded again. “Okay. Quinn?”
Quinn looked up.
“Thanks. You must really care about her.”
“Lindy and I...“ She paused. “I care about all my friends.” Quinn looked at her pointedly. “Alison, if you two ever do get back together - don’t hurt her again, okay?” Then she left.
Alison rested her arms on the table, and placed her head between them. Her life was beginning to get complicated again.
Lindy walked out of the bookstore, and looked around for Quinn. She spied her sitting at a cafe across the street. She waved, and crossed the street.
“How did it go?” asked Quinn eagerly.
Lindy smiled. “Pretty good, I think. They’ll let me know before the end of the week.”
Quinn smiled. “You’ll get it, Lindy. I know it.”
Lindy sat down. “I hope so. My loan money is running out. I need to pay the rent somehow.” She glanced over at Quinn. “Plus class starts in two weeks. I need to have something by then.”
“Relax,” said Quinn. “You’ve made it though all that other stuff - you’ll make it here too.”
Lindy smiled. “With your help, mostly.”
“All I did was encourage you. You did all the work.”
Lindy took her hand. “Quinn...thank you again. I couldn’t have done any of this without you.”
“It’s okay, Lindy.”
“You didn’t have to stay here all summer, either. I know you must have had other plans.”
“Nothing important.” Quinn gave her hand a squeeze. “Don’t worry, Lindy.”
Lindy sat back. “You know, I keep thinking about Alison...”
“What about her?” asked Quinn quietly.
“What she’s doing...where she is...” Lindy sighed. “I want to see her again. Maybe I should call her.”
“Even after what she did?”
Lindy’s head fell. “Yes,” she said softly. “Even after that. I love her, Quinn. Maybe I want to see her again so she can tell me that she’s changed; so she can tell me she loves me; so she can...” Lindy tailed off. “It’s stupid, I know.”
Quinn took a deep breath. “Lindy, there’s been something I’ve been keeping from you.”
Lindy glanced up. “What?”
“It’s about Alison.”
“What about her?”
“I’ve seen her. I mean, I’ve talked to her.”
Lindy stared at Quinn. “When?”
“When you were in the clinic, she kept calling your apartment, but you weren’t there, of course.”
“I think she wanted to see you again.” Quinn drummed her fingers on the table. “I only got the messages after she had called quite a few times, so she’d assumed you were avoiding her.”
“What happened then?” asked Lindy. She couldn’t believe this had all been happening under her nose.
“I got in touch with her. I wanted to see what she wanted.”
Quinn paused. “She wants to see you too. I told her you weren’t ready yet.”
“Great!” Lindy threw her arms into the air. “Thank you, Quinn! Is there some other part of my life you want to run while you‘re at it?”
Quinn looked at her. “I understand you’re upset...”
“Yes, I’m upset!”
Quinn frowned. “Lindy, look at it from my point of view. You’re one of my best friends. I come to visit, and I find you drunk off your ass in a pool of your own sick, trying your very best to drink yourself to death. You’re that way because of a girl who screwed you over, whether she meant to or not. Now this girl wants to get back together with you, and I’m scared stiff that if you do, I’ll find you one day after you’ve tried drinking yourself to death again. Only this time, you’ve succeeded.”
“I wasn’t trying to kill myself, Quinn.”
“Then what were you doing?”
“I...” Lindy paused. “I just wanted to be in a place where I couldn’t feel anything anymore. I hurt so much inside, and...” She tailed off, and glanced down at the table for a few moments.
“I don’t care! You didn’t care what happened to yourself at that point. You could have died! Lindy, I care about you. I don’t want you to leave yourself open for that again.”
There was a silence at the table.
“I’m sorry, Quinn,” said Lindy quietly. She glanced around. Some of the other customers were staring at them.
“It’s okay,” said Quinn, calming down. “I just don’t want you to get hurt again, Lindy. You weren’t ready to see her again. I think even your counselor would back me on that one.”
“Maybe.” Lindy looked up at her. “Quinn, I’m not sure I’m ready for a full-fledged renewal of our relationship, but I am ready to see her again. I need to see if it could ever work between us again.”
Quinn smiled slightly. “Okay. You know, I think she has changed from when you knew her. I just hope it’s enough.” She muttered that last part under her breath, but Lindy still heard her.
“I’m going to call her,” said Lindy.
Quinn nodded. “Just be careful, okay?”
Lindy smiled at Quinn. “I really do appreciate everything you’ve done for me, you know.”
Quinn smiled back.
Lindy walked back to her apartment, thoughts racing through her head. The walk seemed longer than usual, and it passed in kind of a dream-like haze.
Alison wanted to get back in touch with her.
Alison wanted to apologize (maybe).
Alison might be interested in continuing a relationship.
Then everything she had done came flooding back to Lindy, and her stomach churned. She felt sick for a moment. No-one had ever hurt her like that before. What if she did it again? What if she wasn’t willing to change? What would Lindy do if Alison pulled something like this again? How would she handle it?
She couldn’t always rely on Quinn to pull her ass out of the fire. She had her own life, one that she was putting on hold right now to help Lindy.
Lindy sighed. She’d tried not to think about Alison for the past few weeks. She’d just concentrated on getting better, and putting her life back in order. Now that she was feeling better, Alison had slowly crept back in. A stray thought at first, then a dream...finally, she was thinking of her most of the time. She still loved her. She couldn’t stop that, no matter how hard she tried.
She needed to see her again. See if she could change. See if maybe one day they could...
Lindy reached the steps to her apartment building, and went inside. She knew what she was going to do. Quinn had said that she was going to go shopping, but Lindy knew better. She had just come up with an excuse to let Lindy have some privacy to do this. Lindy didn’t doubt that as soon as she was finished, Quinn would show up to offer support, or warn her. It had annoyed her a little that Quinn had kept things from her, but she knew Quinn had been acting in her best interests. She really hadn’t been ready to talk to Alison before now. Even now, she wasn’t really sure what she was ready for.
She set her jaw. Time to bite the bullet.
Alison reached her apartment, and flopped down on the couch. Who knew having an exhibition could be so tiring? Her thoughts drifted to Lindy. Her friend - Quinn - had said that she wasn’t ready to see her yet, and Alison understood that. She just wished she knew when she would be ready.
If ever, of course. Alison had essentially thrown Lindy right back into rehab. That was not an easy thing to forgive. Alison wasn’t sure if she would ever forgive herself for doing it. She hoped that Lindy would be ready eventually, and that it would be sooner, rather than later.
As if on cue, the phone rang. Alison hoped there wasn’t a problem down at the gallery. She’d lost a sketch there last week, when an idiot worker had dropped it down a flight of stairs. If it was something like that, she was going to be very pissed off.
The color drained from Alison’s face. She recognized the voice at once. “Lindy?”
Alison couldn’t believe this. She didn’t know what to say. Lindy cleared her throat. “I, uh, want to see you again.”
“Lindy, I do too.” Alison smiled a little. Maybe this could work out, after all. “I’ve missed you so much.”
Alison blinked in surprise. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, where do you want to meet?” Lindy did not sound very confident.
“I don’t know.” Alison thought for a moment. “How about Overlook Potomac Park, you know, down in Arlington?”
“Sure. That sounds great.” Lindy’s tone of voice made it clear that this did not sound great. “I’ll be there in an hour, or so.” There was a click and the line went dead.
Alison sat back, and took a deep breath. Everything was going to come to a head now, it seemed. Lindy had sounded so unsure of herself, so lost. Alison had never heard her like that before.
Alison frowned. Whenever she had heard girls like that before that she liked, she usually took that weakness and used it to get them into bed. The only time it hadn’t worked was at the Artist’s Colony a few years back with that girl - Alison couldn’t remember her name. She’d been distraught over breaking up with someone, and Alison had almost managed to get her into bed. But she’d freaked, and ran off.
Alison rubbed her forehead. The events of the past few months had caused her to take a good look at herself, and she hadn’t always liked what she’d found. Maybe it wasn’t too late to change things, though.
Lindy put down the phone, and lay down on her back, staring at the ceiling. She lay there, unmoving, until she heard the door click open. Quinn appeared in the air above her, looking down at her with a worried expression.
“Lindy? What are you doing on the floor?”
“Good for the back,” said Lindy absentmindedly. “Helps me think.”
“I called her.”
“We’re meeting...” Lindy glanced at a clock. “...in about twenty minutes.”
“How long have you been on the floor?”
“About half an hour.”
“Oh.” Quinn helped Lindy up to her feet. “How do you feel?”
“Nervous as shit.”
“You’re sure you want to do this?”
Lindy nodded sadly. “Yeah. I have to see her.”
Quinn had a resigned expression. “I figured. Where?”
“Potomac Overlook Park. It’s about five miles from here.” Lindy looked at Quinn. She was carrying two shopping bags. “I thought you only said you were going shopping to give me some privacy.”
“Well, I was,” said Quinn sheepishly. “But you can’t put me in a clothing store, and not expect me to buy something.”
Lindy laughed. “I should have known.”
“I got this really cute little sweater, and...”
“Where do you get your money from?”
“I save well,” said Quinn proudly. “I’m not as flighty as I look. Or as I used to be.”
“I believe you.” Lindy glanced at the clock again. “I guess I should get this over with.”
“I’m coming with you,” said Quinn. Seeing Lindy’s expression, she add quickly: “I won’t actually be there with you, of course. I’ll just be nearby, in case...you know.”
Lindy nodded. “Thank you, Quinn. Damn, what did I do to deserve you?”
“I’m your friend, Lindy. I’d do this for all my friends, and trust me, I’ve more unpleasant friends than you, even when you were drunk.”
Lindy smiled a little, and brought Quinn in for a hug.
They reached Potomac Overlook Park in a couple of minutes. Quinn elected to stay outside, and pointed out where she’d be if Lindy needed her. Lindy smiled, and made her way inside.
She knew where Alison was going to be. There was a clearing with some benches a little way into the park, beside a particularly dense and large clump of trees. They had gone there once, on an overcast Saturday afternoon. They had reached the clearing, and it had begun to rain. Running into the trees to escape the rain, events had begun, clothes had been discarded, and things had progressed from there. Luckily, no-one had thought to go into the trees that day, otherwise they would have seen quite a sight.
Lindy smiled at the memory. She had quite a few good ones with Alison. Maybe one day, they would make some more.
She rounded the corner, and entered the clearing. Alison was already there, sitting on the bench. She glanced up, saw Lindy, and immediately glanced back down again. Lindy felt her stomach growling - the way it always did when she was nervous.
“Hey,” she said quietly.
“Hi,” said Alison back, equally quietly.
Lindy walked over, and sat down on the bench beside her, being very careful not to get too close. They sat there in silence for a few minutes, neither one looking at the other. Finally Alison broke the silence.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly. “For everything, I mean. For lying to you...for fucking you up so badly...for not telling you how I felt...”
“I’m sorry too,” said Lindy. “I said some pretty shitty things.”
“Most of them were true.”
Lindy sighed. “I still shouldn’t have said them.”
“It’s just...” Alison paused. “It’s just that...I don’t know...I mean, I’d never met anyone like you, and it was taking me somewhere I’d never been before, and...” She put her hand to her head. “And I know that doesn’t excuse what I did...”
“No,” said Lindy quietly. “It doesn’t.” She took a deep breath. “I was so angry at you, Alison. But I wasn’t just angry. I was hurt. Hurt so bad that I just wanted it to go away. I would have done anything to make it go away, and that’s how I...you know. But it hurt so bad because I love you. I can’t help that.”
“I love you too,” said Alison quietly. “I should have told you that sooner.”
Lindy smiled a little at hearing that. “I’m never going to meet anyone like you. I know that.”
“Me neither.” Alison looked at her, a gleam of hope in her eyes. “So what do we do now?”
Lindy shrugged. “I don’t know.” She took a deep breath. “I’m not ready to get back into a serious relationship yet. I do know that.”
“Then why did you come here?” asked Alison. “I mean, I wouldn’t do what I did again. I know that.”
“I wanted...to see if we could make this work. In the future, I mean. If we maybe had a future together.”
Lindy smiled, and took her hand. She nodded.
Alison smiled back.
Lindy glanced up at the surrounding trees. “Going to be fall soon.”
Alison looked up as well. “Yeah. This place is going to look so good in the fall. Lot of good material for sketches here.”
Lindy nodded. “Maybe I could come down, and watch you some day?”
“I’d like that.”
Lindy stood up. “I’d better go. Quinn’s waiting for me outside.”
“She’s something else, isn’t she?”
Lindy grinned wryly. “Yeah.”
“Little bossy, though.”
Lindy laughed. “Wouldn’t have her any other way.”
They stood and looked at each for a few seconds. Lindy leaned over and kissed Alison lightly on the lips. “I’ll see you soon, Alison.”
Alison smiled. “I hope so.”
Lindy turned, and walked away from Alison. She left the park, and walked towards Quinn’s car. She got in, and Quinn turned to her.
“How did it go?”
Lindy smiled a little. “Pretty good.”
“Not yet,” said Lindy. “But we’re going to try something in the future.”
Quinn nodded slowly. “Good idea. Taking it slowly, I mean.”
Lindy turned to her. “You still don’t like her, do you?”
Quinn looked at Lindy. “Let’s put it this way. I have to go back to Pepperhill in a week or so. If she hurts you again, and I have to come all the way up here again, I’m going to be pissed. And you don’t want to see me when I’m pissed.”
“I believe you,” said Lindy sincerely. “Don’t worry, Quinn. I’m a big girl. I don’t think she’s going to do that again.”
Quinn nodded. “I guess. She did seem pretty cut up when I told her.”
Lindy smiled. “See? Things will work out, Quinn I know it. We’ll be back together soon. Just not yet.”
Quinn smiled, started the car, and they drove off down the streets of Washington.
Lindy finished typing on the computer, and saved her stuff. After she turned off the monitor, she took her glasses off and rubbed her eyes. A long strand of blonde hair fell in front of her eyes, and she moved to brush it back, when something caught her eyes.
She put her glasses back on, and looked at the strand. It had a definite streak of gray running through it.
“Ah, crap,” she muttered.
“What is it?”
She glanced down to see Chris staring up at her. She pointed at her hair. “Look at this! I’m starting to look old.”
“You’re not starting to look old, Lindy,” he said. “You’re starting to be old.”
Lindy grimaced. “Ouch. Oh, what do you know? You’re only twelve.”
“Hey, where’s your Mom?”
“She’s in the art room with her.”
“If by her, you mean your sister, then you should probably call her by name.”
Chris smiled. “Hey, can I go down to the lake?”
“Sure. Get your brother to go down with you, though. It’s not safe by yourself.”
“Wes? He’s down there already with some of his friends. Mom said he could go down.”
“Then yes. Be back by dark, okay?” Lindy glanced at the clock. It was almost five.
He nodded, and ran off. “Bye, Lindy!”
Lindy smiled, and walked into the art room. Alison glanced up from what she was doing. “Hey.” She kissed her lightly on the lips. “How’s the novel coming?”
“Finished another chapter. Not too happy with it, though. Will you go over it later with me?”
Alison smiled. “Sure.”
Lindy glanced downwards. “So what are you doing, Quinn?”
The little girl smiled, and pointed to Alison. “Mommy and me were doing some pastels. Do you want to do some too, Lindy?”
Lindy grinned. “I’d love to, but I’m beat. I’m going to go take a rest.”
Quinn smiled. “Okay.”
Lindy looked at Alison. “Quite the little artist here, haven’t we?”
Alison smiled. “Yeah. Wouldn’t have her any other way. Anyway, Chris is more the writing type.”
“I know.” Lindy stroked the side of Alison’s face. “Things worked out pretty well, didn’t they?”
“What makes you say that all of a sudden?”
Lindy smiled wryly. “Just thinking about the past.”
“Dangerous,” said Alison.
“I love you,” said Lindy softly.
“I love you too.”
“I love you both!” said Quinn quickly.
Lindy hunched down beside her. “I know, sweetie. We love you too.”
“More than the boys?”
Alison frowned jokingly. “Don’t start that again.”
Lindy gave Quinn a quick hug, then she stood up, and kissed Alison quickly. “Going to go take a rest.” She walked out of the art room, and walked through the rest of the farmhouse. As she did so, she glanced around the rooms, at all the mementos of her and Alison’s life together. There was a hell of a lot. Smiling, Lindy remembered what she had thought all those years ago. She had wondered if she and Alison would make more happy memories in the future. In all of her wildest dreams, she had never imagined that they would have so many. And now, she lived in a wonderful house, with a wonderful woman she loved, and with three wonderful children. Once they had had a girl, Lindy had asked if they could name her Quinn, to thank her for all she had done for them. She was worried that Alison might get jealous, or obsess over the past, but she had agreed. After all, if it hadn’t been for her, they might never have gotten back together.
Alison and Lindy had made a good life together. Smiling to herself, Lindy reached the bedroom, laid down, and fell into a very contented sleep.
Thanks to my wife.
Thanks to by beta-readers: Roger Moore, Robert Nowall, RedlegRick, Thea-Zara, and Deref