Just a few words about Rolling Thunder

I just wanted to send a shout out to Juliet and Kimmy whose stories have recently been inspiring me and to my readers who, I hope, enjoy these stories

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Story!!

In the ongoing Penguins Saga started with The Boys of Summer, please find my new story with Sid, Max, Jordan, Kris and the boys at http://yougotmemaxandmarc.blogspot.com/

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chapter 22 Final

Finally I'm worth it, though I'm not perfect
It still feels right, and I keep on giving
Trying to make a difference, in my life
But I know another way to show
Everything I can be for You
You're all that I'll ever need
I'll give you the Best of Me

(lyrics from “Best of Me” from The Letter Black)

Chapter 22

Everyone went, the day of Rebecca’s mother’s funeral. Max had insisted. Every single member of the team showed up in black suits with black ties. It was quite a display and I didn’t even mind if it was more for Max than it was for her and it was probably a good thing that they had come too, as besides Becca, there was only her sister and her family and a couple of old biddies from the trailer park and I’m pretty sure they’d just been there for the free tea and cake afterwards.

Rebecca still hadn’t cried, but after what she’d told me about her mother, I wasn’t that surprised. She sat, still as a marble statue, through the entire service. She even managed to clench her teeth through her sister’s hysterical sobbing as the plain wooden casket slid into the crematorium through a sliding door.

It was only when Max reached for her hand that she broke down. I knew, we probably all knew, that her tears in that moment were less for her mother than for herself and for him, but no one was about to say anything about it. I let her hand go so he could hug her and I even managed to thank him, albeit silently, as he gave me that look over her shoulder that clearly said that this was for her and that it wasn’t about anything else.

I didn’t need to be told. I’m not worried about losing her. Not now.

“You? You’re going to give up your beauty sleep to do midnight feedings and change diapers?” Jordan laughs as he says it, but quietly. This isn’t really the place for laughing, but it does seem like the place to share some good news.

“I am, apparently,” I reply, sharing a look with Becca that makes my heart skip a beat and my stomach do a salsa move.

“Are you sure?” Sidney hisses into my ear with a wary look towards where his wife and just a spattering of the other Wags, a select few, are helping with the tea and pastries. Becca hadn’t accepted mine or anyone else’s help with the casket or the funeral expenses but Sid had arranged for the cars and his wife had arranged for the food. I guess that’s just another day in the life of being the Captain of the Pens. “I mean, you know…,” Sid adds with a roll of his eyes towards where Max is standing alone, eating a cream horn.

“She’s sure,” I reply with a smile I can’t quite seem to force off of my face. “That’s good enough for me.” I think about adding that I hope it’s good enough for them too, but I decide against it. Their being here, in force, and Max with them tells me that whatever our differences are now, it’s all going to be okay in the future.

“Does he know?” Flower asks, appearing at my side with a plate of Mel’s homemade chocolate chip and smartie cookies. She and Jonny are the only ones not here, for obvious reasons. I’m surprised that she found time to bake with Brent Jr. howling all night. Apparently he has quite the set of lungs on him and I’m a little surprised to find that that thought doesn’t scare me in the least.

“She told him,” I reply quietly, looking over at Max who is watching her with a sort of blank look on his face. I wish he’d talk to me. I wish I knew what that apparently bland expression is hiding but I know I don’t have the right to ask. “I think that was actually the worst part,” I admit, though I wasn’t there. She wanted to do that part on her own but she did tell me that he cried.

“Max will be a great dad, someday,” Tabby says, appearing at her husband’s side and slipping her arm into his, leaning her body into his like they belong like that. It’s like they’ve had a magnet implanted that pulls them together all the time. They look like they belong like that. “In his bed Tanger, really?” she adds and I roll my eyes and sigh. I’ve been waiting for this.

“I know, my bad, je suis vraiment désolé, but you know what it’s like. I don’t have to tell you what being in love does to your brain, raison?” I can see when my Captain tries to hide a smile, and he doesn’t do it well. Sid sucks at poker. Even his wife, when she glances at him rolls her eyes and smiles.

“You can’t even give him hell about that?” she sighs and digs her elbow into his ribs. It only makes him giggle like a school girl though.

“Hey, I almost caught my death running through the rain to be with you, remember?” he reminds her and it’s her turn to blush. “Besides, Max has done some pretty outrageous shit in his time. I think he can get a new bed and go from there if he wants,” Sid adds, smiling down at his wife and for once I don’t feel so left out of the whole lovey dovey couple scene. I just have to look over at where Becca is standing with Michelle Cooke and Vero to know that I have one of those magnets now. It might not be quite as strong as what Sid and Tabby have, but I’m pretty sure it’ll get there.  

“Your sister didn’t stay long,” the wife of the Pens resident agitator noted as she poured me a cup of tea into a real china cup with its’ own little plate beneath it. I took the cup carefully from her hands and inhaled the rich scent of well steeped real leaf tea.

“Well this is pretty unexpected,” I reply with a glance around at all of Kris and Max’s teammates in their smart suits. “I think she was a little overwhelmed. I know I am.”

“We hang together,” Vero tells me, her hand on my arm. “No matter who you’re with,” she adds more quietly, with a quick glance towards where Max is standing off by himself.

“Every time I look at him I feel like I’m pulling on a thread that’s unravelling his entire life,” I admit, turning my attention back to the tea leaves at the bottom of my cup. “I can’t understand why he would do this for me after what I did to him.”

“Not to be mean but neither do I,” Michelle says simply and even though it does hurt, I know that I haven’t got a leg to stand on.

“She can’t help how her heart feels,” Vero hisses at the blonde bombshell who only raises her eyebrows and says nothing. “I know you can’t and Kris is...well he’s a great guy.”

“I know.” I afford myself a glance towards Kris who is standing in a group of his teammates, in a dark blue suit that has sheen to it, his long dark hair styled for once. He looks like a cover model for Sharp magazine or Cigar Aficionado, gorgeous and stylish. “I keep feeling like I need to pinch myself,” I admit, my heart fluttering like a caged bird in my chest. “Not that I never felt that way about Max,” I add quickly, sending a quick glance towards Max. My heart aches when I look at him now, it doesn’t pound.

“He’ll get over it,” Vero promises and I know it’s true but it doesn’t alter my guilt.

“But will he forgive me? And what about Kris?” I ask, looking back at him.

“Honey, he did all this for you,” Michelle points out, as if I need telling. “I think if he hasn’t forgiven you, he’s at least trying to.” Max’s gaze finally meets mine and a resigned sort of half smile spreads across his lips though his eyes still hold the pain I put there. Handing my still full cup to Veronique, I glance quickly towards Kris who gives me an understanding and encouraging smile, and then I turn and head towards Max.

“You okay?” he asks me, our fingers tangling together, just as easily and effortlessly they always have.

“I should be asking you that,” I smile and just a little of the pain leaks out of his gaze.

“Oh, I think I’ll live,” he says with a crooked smile. “What about you though, everything...okay?” he asks, looking down at my mid section. I know what he’s thinking. He doesn’t need to say it. There’s been hardly anything else on my mind the last few days.

“Yeah, okay,” I reply, my free hand sliding to my stomach. It’s still a very foreign feeling, the idea that I’m going to keep it after all, that I , of all people, will be a mother.

“Good, I’m glad,” he says and squeezes my hand before letting it go. I’d believe him, except for the disappointment clear in his eyes and in the way he swallows as he suddenly shifts his gaze to where Kris is still standing with Sid, Tabby and Jordan. Kris lifts his chin in a sort of silent hello and Max nods once. It’s more than I’d hoped for and I take it as a good sign.

“Look…I haven’t even talked to him about this and it’s probably too soon to even think about anything like this yet but...would you be the godfather to…to whatever it turns out to be?” I think Kris would approve, would probably agree with the idea, especially if it means that they stop the grade school stare downs.

“You know I’d be...,” he begins before his attention is stolen by a small freckle faced flame haired bundle of energy. I look from the stranger bearing a potted mum and back to Max, who blushes but doesn’t return my quizzical gaze.

“I’m sorry, I missed everything didn’t I? My mom always says that I have never, ever been on time for anything, not even my own birth!” The woman I recognize as the nurse from the other day busts right past Kris and Sidney like they’re no one and heads straight for where Max and I are standing. “There was this car accident with like, ten victims and everyone needed stitches and I don’t even work in the ER but it was like, all hands on deck so I was there like making sutcher trays and cleaning out wounds and there was this kid running around because his mother had a laceration on her...oh...I’m doing it aren’t I? I’m just blabbering on. I do that, I’m so sorry.” I can’t help at grin at her, especially when I catch the flabbergasted expression on Max’s face.

“There really wasn’t much to see,” I tell her quietly and she beams up at me like I’ve handed her a lollipop and patted her on the head. “You didn’t really miss much at all.”

“I’m glad. I mean, I’m not glad because I’m sure this was like, ridiculously difficult for you, what with it being for your mom and all but I’m glad that you seem to be taking it well. These are for you,” she presses the potted plant into my hands and then sort of hugs me around them. “I’m sorry for your loss,” she adds and then turns to Max. “The kids just loved seeing you the other day. They have not stopped talking about it. I was so glad that you could come.”

“Uh...yeah, well, me and kids, we’re great,” Max says in his golly gee shucks sort of way and bathes her in his ‘I’m Max Talbot and you will find me devastatingly handsome’ grin and she, in turn, looks up at him like he’s just been dropped down from heaven just for her. “Lucy right?” he asks, and impossibly her grin gets wider, but so does his.

“I think we should give them some space hmmm?” I lean back into the strong, heavily muscled body that presses up against me and close my eyes, just for a moment as his scent fills my head. I’d always liked the smell of Hugo Boss on him but ever since I’ve been pregnant it just sort of...does things to me.

“Do you think he’ll be okay?” I ask as Kris turns to lead me away.

“I think we’ll all be fine,” he whispers in my ear. “Just fine.”

Chapter 21

When I cry, I close my eyes
And every tear falls down inside
And I pray with all my might
That I will find my heart in someone's arms
When I cry, cry
When I cry, when I am sad
I think of every awful thing I ever did
When I cry, there is no love
No, there is nothing that can comfort me enough
When I cry

(lyrics to “Hanging by a Thread” by Jann Arden)

Chapter 21

“Penny for your thoughts?” I’d woken up in the middle of the night to find the space in the bed next to me empty and cold. It hadn’t taken long to find her, sitting in one of the oversized leather chairs in my living room, one of my mother’s home made afghans wrapped around her, staring into the dark. She didn’t react to my presence, didn’t look up at me as I slid onto the arm of the chair, waiting for her to make room for me to slide down onto the cold leather with her. Instead, I reached over and brushed her hair away from her face and ran my thumb along the sharp line of her cheekbone. “Mon ange, it’s cold, come back to bed.” Summer was gone and the cool fall air chilled my skin. Even under that afghan, she was only wearing one of my t-shirts. She had to be cold.

She turned and looked up at me and even in the dark I could see the shimmer of tears in her eyes. It made me feel guilty and it made me feel selfish but mostly it made me feel inadequate. I couldn’t bring her mother back and I couldn’t turn back the clock and give her the time to say goodbye. I couldn’t take back that we’d been making love while her mother took her last breath. I wanted to make her feel less guilty but I didn’t even know how to do that. The only thing I could do was be here, to try and be man enough to be here for her now.

She leaned into my hand, the soft round of her cheek fitting perfectly into the palm of my hand, and closed her eyes. I tracked the silver trail of a tear down her cheek with my eyes and knew that I was at least partly responsible for it being there.

“Come to bed,” I plead again but she doesn’t make a move, even when I stand up and reach for her hand, intending to pull her up to her feet and make her come with me.

“There’s something…something you should know.” Her voice is strangled, small and hurt sounding. Her eyes are still closed and her hand is limp in mine. I feel my heart constrict hard in my chest. ‘She’s going to tell me she doesn’t love me’, I think as I take a knee in front of her, telling myself I can take it, that maybe she won’t really mean it, that it’s only the emotion of the moment, the deep dark hours of the morning that is going to make her say it.

“What is it?” I keep her hand in both of mine and wait, steeling myself like I do when I know that I’m about to pounded in the boards by some goon like Boogard, knowing it’s going to hurt but if I get close enough to the boards that they’ll take some of the blow. There are no boards now. There’s nothing to take the sting out of whatever words she’s about to speak.

She finally opens her eyes and looks at me and my chest get tight. She looks so sad and so afraid at the same time that she reminds me of a child, about to tell some truth that she knows is going to result in her getting a beating. One day I’ll ask her about her past, if anyone ever raised a hand to her. Not tonight though. Tonight I’ll just listen to whatever she has to say and then I’ll deal with it.

“I’m pregnant,” she says after a long pause and then she tries to pull her hand free from mine, but I won’t let her. Her eyes are too wide. She looks like a startled doe. She looks like she expects me to yell, maybe to hit her. I hate that she thinks I’d ever do either of those things.

She watches me like a dog in a cage, like a pound dog does from behind bars. Like maybe you’re just as bad as the last person who owned her. Like maybe you’ll hurt them but then maybe not. There’s hope in her eyes too. Hope that I’ll do and say the right thing and I want to fulfill that wish.

“It’s…is it Max’s?” I ask, a heavy feeling in my gut wanting it not to be true but knowing that even if it is, I will somehow deal with it. I don’t know how, not yet, but I will, at least that’s what I tell myself. I’ll figure out the rest later.

“No,” she replies simply, her gaze holding mine, still with that same guarded expression in her eyes. “It can’t be,” she adds more firmly. “It’s maybe…maybe six weeks and he’s been gone….”

“Eight,” I reply quietly, doing the math quickly in my head. “So…it’s…?” Shit! It’s impossible to say it out loud. My blood is rushing in my veins, my heart hammering so loud in my ears that I can’t think. I’m glad I’m on my knees or they’d have given out on me. She nods and bites down on her bottom lip, still watching me, still waiting for me to react. ‘Can’t she hear my heart beating?’ I think, but can’t make my mouth form the words. I press her hand to my chest instead and press my forehead to her thigh. “Thank you,” I mumble into her soft, cool skin. “Merci mon ange.”

There is a long silence, and then I feel her hand, her fingers cool against my skin as she raises my face and stares down into my eyes, surprised yes and confused.

“You’re not…you don’t think I’m trying to capture you? Control you?” she asks, blinking rapidly and it’s my turn to fit my cheek into her hand but I smile up at her, a stupid, far too happy grin.

“Tie me down, mon ange, s’il vous plait. I want to be captured by you, forever.” 

Telling Kris had turned out to be easy, far easier than I’d suspected after I’d made up my mind in the middle of the night that, if he wanted it, I wanted to keep the baby. He does. He wants it and he wants me and as he holds me in his arms, he tells me what our future will hold. More babies, a big family. Summers in Montreal, with his family, his friends, a big welcoming family that he promises will not only accept me, but love me as much, maybe more, than he does.

He has names picked out; Geneviève for a girl and Antoine if it’s a boy.

We’ll marry, as soon as possible, maybe in Mario’s back yard. Or just at the town hall if that’s all I want. We can always have another ceremony, later, during the summer, with everyone, with the baby too.

“You make it sound so easy,” I whisper, my cheek pressed to his chest, listening to the steady beating of his heart, feeling it beat under the palm of my hand.

“It is, il est facile parce que je t’aime.” His fingers lace with mine and I watch our fingers fit together and they look like they should, like his hand is meant to hold mine.

“It seems too easy,” I sigh, closing my eyes again, reveling in the warmth of his skin and of the nearness of him.

“It won’t be,” he says more seriously, his arm that’s been resting around my back presses me close to the solid lengths of his body. “Passion is easy. Love takes years to pull off.” I turn to look up at him and he smiles at the ceiling. “I don’t remember where I heard that but I think it must be true, ne penses pas?” I nod and then dig my chin into his chest, looking up him, at his full bottom lip, his dark eyes, the hair that’s always falling onto his forehead. “We’ll make it work though,” he promises quietly, his hand travelling up my back until his fingers brush the nape of my neck, making me shiver. “Je vais tu faire plaisir, je tu promets.” His voice brushes against my skin, soft like velvet and smooth like melted chocolate and his serious gaze draws me to him like a magnet. I slide my body up and he slides his down and our mouths meet somewhere in the middle.

I feel his hand on my cheek, sliding up into my hair as he his tongue caresses mine, rolling over it, brushing against it. His other hand slides down my back and onto my ass, pulling me up over him until I’m straddling him and our bodies are pressed tightly together and there’s nowhere for his rock hard erection to go as my stomach presses against it.

He holds my mouth to his, his lips soft but forceful, his fingers splayed across the back of my head as if I might want to be doing anything but this, kissing him, touching him. His other hand works its’ way down over my ass and works his cock free until he can angle it up into me, and I press my body down over it, sheathing him inside of me.

“Mon dieu!” he groans against my collarbone as I arch my back, pressing him down into the mattress, using his shoulders to push myself up and press myself down all at the same time. I don’t want to move. I want to stay, like this, with him filling me, his lips and tongue on my neck, his arms locked around my shoulders and our bodies pressed tightly together. “Mon dieu, tu me défaire,” he hisses into my jaw, his teeth digging into the thin skin just below my ear.

I’m not good at the sweet words like he is. I don’t know if it’s a French thing or if it’s just Kristopher, but I wish I had the poetic words to say back to him about the way this makes me feel; safe and wanted and needed. Max wanted me, but I don’t think he needed me.

I need Kris. I know that much.

“Never let me go,” I plead as he pushes himself up into me, our bodies barely moving and yet I can feel myself falling already, and now I know the difference. This is what it’s like when you love someone, when your body fits so perfectly and the emotions overwhelm everything else. This is making love.

“Je tu promets que je ne te quitterai jammais,” he promises, his tongue sweeping around my ear as he presses my ass down and pushes up into me at the same time.

At this angle, the head of his cock hit the spot inside of me every time, ripping the air from my lungs, making it impossible to breathe and I don’t want to breathe. I don’t want to think. I don’t want to do anything but this. I want him inside of me and I want to be in his arms, forever.

“Love me forever,” I gasp, knowing that I’m about to lose the fight, feeling that clenching at the base of my spine, that tightening in my stomach that’s a warning sign for impending fireworks.

“Pour toujours,” he whispers back and then grunts and pushes up into me and I let go, sobbing his name as he jettisons himself inside of me, groaning my name in return.

“Saint-ciboire du saint sacrement!” I dip my head into the icy stream of water and let it pour over the back of my neck. Squeezing my eyes tight, I let out a couple more choice epithets before shutting the water off and shaking like a Lab puppy crawling out of a pond. “So was that what you two were doing in my bed? Celebrating?”

“It wasn’t like that and you know it,” Becky says quietly from where she’s leaning against the kitchen counter looking bored with my dramatics.

“No, tell me what it was like then,” I snap back at her, reaching for a tea towel and rubbing it across my head.

“I’ve apologized Max, and I’m sorry I hurt you…that we hurt you, but if you’re just going to be an ass then I’m going to go back next door and leave you in your shitty diaper.” The glance she affords me is full of disappointment mixed with a liberal dose of hostility at this point. Well, she did fuck my best friend in my bed, I’m not just going to roll over and let her think she’s gotten away with it am I?

“Well if you knew that you were pregnant, then why did you let me think it was going to work between us? Why did you stay here with me in my bed? Why didn’t you just go over there while I was gone?” At first she just shrugs and then she heaves a heavy sigh, uncrosses her arms from in front of the Birthday Massacre tour t-shirt that’s artfully torn at the neck so that it bares one of her ivory shoulders and the lipstick red bra strap that belongs to that black and red lace number that I bought her. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound.

“I wasn’t sure, about the pregnancy and I didn’t think I was going to keep it. I didn’t intend to have anything to do with him, that’s the honest truth,” she adds with a long look at me that ends in another one of those shrugs that makes the t-shirt fall further down until I have to go over and straighten it or end up looking at her tits and that really would be rubbing salt in the wound.

“Are you sure it’s his?” I ask quietly as my hands slide over her smooth flesh. She lets me straighten her shirt or at least doesn’t make a move to stop me.

“I am, yeah,” she says quietly, her dark eyes looking into mine and I feel my heart breaking all over again. I want to tell her I couldn’t sleep without her last night and that I tossed and turned and seriously thought about holding a pillow over my head and just letting the world go.  “I am sorry Max. I know that…well I know you want to be a dad.”

“Yeah well, I could be now, we don’t know right? I mean toutes les belles dames que j’ai eu dans mon lit.” Becky looks unimpressed and manages to look like she pities me, all at the same time. I still want to kiss her though, even with pity in her eyes. “There’s lots of fish in the sea right?” I add, not that it helps my cause and Becky sees right through it, like I knew she would. She smiles sadly and grabs my face in her hands and presses her full lips onto mine in a soft, too brief kiss.

“You will be fine, mon ami, because you’re a good man, and a sweet man and some woman will be very lucky to have you. It just turns out that it’s not me.” Giving up my boy wonder routine, I smile and open my arms to her and she walks into them and presses her cheek against my shoulder and hugs me hard. “Thank you for not being a total ass.”

“I’ll probably be an ass yet,” I promise into her hair and I feel her body tremble in my arms and I know she’s laughing even though she isn’t making a sound. We stay like that for a long minute, maybe more and part of me is memorizing the feel of her in my arms, knowing how much I’ve missed it already and how much I’ll miss it when she goes. “Congratulations,” I tell her finally, as she unravels herself from my arms and takes a step towards the hall, like she’s going to leave. “I know you’re probably shitting a brick but…you’ll be fine, especially with Kris. He’s kind of a vain fuck but…he’s a good guy.”
“I’m glad you think so,” she smiles, a genuine smile that, while it’s small and doesn’t really reach her eyes is still better than her leaving still thinking I’m a sad, pathetic fuck.

“I don’t have to like him and I may still kick his ass at the rink but…if it can’t be me…I guess he’s better than that ugly fucker TK,” I add with a smirk that makes her shake her head.

“This isn’t all his fault, Max. It’s not anyone’s fault. I’d like it if you two were friends again.” I must be making a face because she sighs and shrugs her shoulders and then she turns to go.

“That might take a while,” I say to her retreating form and she nods and turns back to give me another sad smile before I watch her walk out of my house, and out of my life.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chapter 20

Thanks again for waiting. My computer should be a little more free for the next week now that midterms are over...

I expected crying, wailing and sobbing. I expected stammered apologies. I expected her to plead for my forgiveness. I even expected Kris to put up his dukes. Instead, he hands her his t-shirt, which she silently pulls over her head and then stretches over her knees as she pulls them up to her chest, making herself as small as possible, entirely avoiding eye contact with both of us while Kris tugs his jeans back on and then sits at the end of the bed staring at the floor between his feet. I can’t help but notice that he leaves the top button undone, as if he’s ready to get back to it, as if he’s not planning to leave.

“So how long has this been going on?” Kris is hiding behind his hair and Becky’s staring at her feet but I wouldn’t exactly say either of them is looking particularly guilt ridden. He looks back at her and she merely shrugs one shoulder, like it’s up to him to say. I feel my hands clenching and unclenching at my sides. I want to fucking drag him to his feet by his hair and punch his teeth down his throat. The only thing holding me back is the code; you don’t fight guys on your own team.

“While you were gone…in Haiti,” Kris says quietly, looking up at me through his hair like he knows he deserves a fucking beating but there’s a defiance there too, a look that says he’ll take the beating but he’s not going to apologize.

“Oh I get it, so while the cat’s away…,” I begin but Becky looks up at me and her expression is even more rebellious. There is only the slightest hint of contrition in her eyes.

“It wasn’t like that. We tried not to. Both of us...we really tried to avoid this.” I hate that I want to believe her. I hate that I want to say it’s okay, so instead I focus on the churning in my gut and think about all the times I lay in my shitty little motel room in Haiti thinking about her when I could have been out dancing like the rest of the guys.

“Yeah, I can see you were trying really hard not to fuck him in my bed,” I snarl, mostly at Kris because somehow it’s easier to be angry at him. Not only has he fucked my girl but he’s broke the code and somehow that’s worse.

“I love her,” he says simply and firmly, his gaze meeting and holding mine.

“Yeah, I heard.” I suddenly feel awkward, like I’ve stepped into someone else’s private moment. I don’t know where to look and I hate that I can feel this energy running between the two of them, like they’re touching even when they’re not.

“It’s not like we planned this and we didn’t do it to hurt you,” he adds, like it matters why. I don’t want them to see it though, that it does hurt, so I take in a deep breath, roll my shoulders back and lift my chin, giving them my best ‘I’m not bothered’ look.

“Who’s hurt?” I shrug, sneering at them both like I could care less that the room reeks of sex and I wasn’t even involved. “I fucked a ton of girls down in Haiti. I was getting my dark meat on,” I lie, wearing my biggest, fakest shit eating grin. Kris looks like he believes me, like he’s shocked that I’d do that to her. Becky, on the other hand, only glances at me quickly. She knows I’m bullshitting, but she has the decency not to call me on it in front of him.

“So you’re saying you’re okay with this?” Kris asks, looking up at me hopefully. As if I’m going to give him the ‘father, son and holy ghost’ wave and make this all above board and kosher. Yeah right, as if he’s getting off that easy.

“Fuck no,” I laugh, or make a sound that’s as close to laughing as I can while I’m choking on my pride. “Vous pouvez sortir, for a fucking start,” I growl, “et prendre ta putain avec vous.”

“Don’t…don’t call her names. If you want to blame someone, blame me, not her,” Kris growls back at me, finally showing some signs of having rediscovered his balls, his hands curling into fists on his lap while he glares at me.

“Je vais lui dire de me sucer la bite si je veux,” I reply calmly, smirking back at him until I see the red haze fill his eyes, his jaw clenching, his lips forming a thin, angry line. I’ve seen him like that before, right before he pummels the shit out of a guy out on the ice and truth be told, I’m kind of looking forward to it. Physical pain would be way better than standing here, feeling like the odd man out, like I’m so fucking secondary to requirements it’s not funny.

“Ta gueule fils de pute,” he growls back at me, getting to his feet and closing the distance between us until his nose is almost pressed against mine.

“Tu es la personne qui est le vissage d’un sale pute,” I hiss back at him, giving him a bump with my chest, and then shoving him back onto the bed. Not that he stays down long. He bounces right back up and nearly lands what would have been a savage left hook, only I step back just in time and go cross-eyed as I watch his knuckles go by within a cunt hair of the bridge of my nose.

“Don’t!” We both look back to where Becky is struggling into her jeans. “Don’t fucking fight over me. Shit! I’m not worth fighting over. I’m not…this isn’t…,” she tosses Kris’s t-shirt at him and reaches for her own sweater, dragging it down over her head and I don’t want to stare at her chest, but knowing it may be the last time I get to look at her tits, I can’t help it. “Fuck! This is exactly what I didn’t want. I didn’t want this…I don’t want anyone fighting, especially not over me.”

“Amie, s’il vous plaît ne dis pas que tu n’es pas la peine.” Kris gives me a dark look and then goes to her, tries to put his arms around her but she pushes him away and reaches for her shoes.

“And stop doing that,” she adds, tugging one shoe on while hopping on one foot. “Stop being all…frenchy lovey dovey. I can’t…I can’t think straight when you do that.” He gives her his arm for balance, like as if that’s something that’s second nature to him, very knight in shining armour kind of shit. She looks up into his face and the expression on both of their faces…well shit.

“You love him…you really fucking do, don’t you?” I ask, the words tasting like dog shit in my mouth. She keeps looking at him, but not like she’s looking for answers but like she’s telling him and not me.

“Yeah, I guess do,” she says simply and he gets this goofy ass grin on his face that makes me want to be sick.

“Then do me a solid and get the fuck out of my face.” 

“I should go.”

She sits there, perched on the edge of the couch like she is going to get up and leave any minute. I want to sit next to her but I don’t, because she wouldn’t even let me hold her hand when we walked across the driveway. She’s jumping at every sound and I can’t blame her. That was too easy, way too easy. Even I keep looking towards the door, expecting him to come in and start breaking shit.

“And where are you going to go? The trailer park?” I ask, a little more sharply than I mean to. She winces and goes back biting her nails.

“It isn’t sold yet. I could,” she mutters with just enough of a petulant and childish tone to make me smile.

“Well you’re not going there,” I tell her, reaching out to cup her cheek and this time she doesn’t draw away, “and not because it’s a trailer park, just because I want you here.”

“Do you think that’s fair, to him?” she asks, looking up at me and where I keep expecting tears and even sympathy for Max, instead I see a resolve I hadn’t expected to find.

“No, probably not, but this is my house and he’s not going to tell me who can stay here and who can’t. Besides,” I add more softly, pressing my lips to her forehead, “I’ll sell this place, right away and we’ll find a place, a better place.” I expect my offer to meet with  grateful approval but all I get from her is a blank look. “What? This is about us now.” Bending down in front of her, I pull her hand gently away from her mouth, kissing her torn nails and shaking my head. “Do you think that my heart is something I give easily, mon ange? Did you think I wasn’t serious when I told you that I love you?”

“No,” she sighs as she slowly raises her gaze to meet mine. “I just think this is such a bad idea. You’ve seen where I come from…what I am….” Her voice trails off and her gaze follows and I follow her gaze in time to see Max walking across the driveway with purpose. Cursing under my breath, knowing that I should have locked the damn thing I let go of her hand and stand up in front of her in time for him to come storming through the door.

“Tu ne pouves pas venire ici,” I grumble, knowing before he even says it exactly what his comeback will be.

“Ne pas baiser une pute dans mon lit et je ne vais pas.” I can’t argue the point, so I don’t. Instead I offer Becky my hand and feel her trembling fingers lace with mine against my thigh. “I came home to tell you something,” he says directly to her. “I think you can understand why I kinda forgot, what with all the searing of my eyes when I saw Tanger’s naked ass in the air,” he adds and for some reason I know it’s going to be alright when he says it. “It’s your mom,” he adds more seriously and in a softer, gentler tone. “I’d just walked you out to the taxi when your sister came looking for you. I’m sorry Becks. Your mom, she died.” 

It’s almost too much to take in. I hadn’t even wanted Max following me to the room but he’d been too hyper according to Sidney’s wife, to hang out with the rest of the group in the maternity ward and I didn’t want to leave the hospital without at least looking in on my mom. I’d had to tell him something, another lie, of course to explain why I hadn’t at least said something to him about it before. I’d told him she’d been ill, which isn’t so far from the truth. I just hadn’t told him that she’d got uproariously drunk and then fell down.

I hadn’t stayed long either. As soon as my sister showed up with her loser husband in tow, I made my excuses and Max had put me in a cab.

At least I’d seen her, I think to myself as Kris reaches over for my hand. I let him take it but only because I don’t have the strength to take it back. I don’t look over at him. I know if I do he’ll have one of those puppy dog sympathetic looks on his face and I’ll start to bawl and once I start, I have a feeling they’ll have to tranquilize me to get me to stop.

“I didn’t want to hurt him,” I say out loud, and Kris snorts in response.

“You’re thinking about him right now? Vraiment?” I do glance at him then, because it’s not like Kris to be unsympathetic.

“Don’t you think we should talk about it?” I ask and he sighs as he returns his gaze to the road. “He is your friend and you do have to see him all the time. I think you’re making a huge mistake.” I know he’ll object and I don’t even listen to his argument as he does. Part of me, the little part of my heart that’s still beating wants him to argue, but the rest of me...well, it just doesn’t believe in fairytale happy endings and or that a man as handsome and as good as he is could possibly want to make any kind of sacrifice for a person like me. “I’m homeless,” I add quietly, and Kris stops, mid argument, even mid-word and stares at me, open mouthed. “I am,” I insist with a shrug. “When you think about it, I’ve really been squatting at Max’s and then if I move in with you I’m really doing the same thing...”

“Don’t...juste s’il vous plaît ne dis pas des choses comme ça.”  I open my mouth to object, to tell him I don’t understand but as we come to a red light, he puts the car in park and turns to face me, reaching for my other hand. “This isn’t just some...some guy thing, some fight over a girl and now that I’ve won...,” I try to pull my hand away, to tell him that I’m not a pawn in his game of chess but he holds my hands even harder. So hard I can feel the bones in my hands disintegrating. “I’ve been thinking of you...of us being together.... J’ai fait un rêve...I want to make a life with you Rebecca. That’s all I want. So if I say that I want you to live with me, I’m saying that you are my home and.... And I hope you feel the same about me.” 

“Mother and son are resting,” Johnny grins as he comes out of the room, beaming, cigars bursting from his pockets. Everyone goes to congratulate him, everyone but me. Well me and, I guess, Tanger and Becks. I stand apart, the fun completely gone from the occasion for me.

“What’s up?” Tabby asks, one eye on her husband and the cigar that Johnny’s sticking in his mouth and one eye on me. “Where did you disappear to?”

“Did you know that Becky’s mom was here?” I ask, watching Jordan trying to take a cigar away from Trina, who threatens to ram his where the son doesn’t shine if he touches hers’ again. Tabby shakes her head and her brow furrows as she tilts her head to look at me again.


“She wanted to see her. I didn’t even know she was sick. She never said anything,” I shrug, wanting to laugh as Flower sticks two cigars up his nose and makes a barking sound. I guess he thinks walruses make seal noises. Maybe they do. “He did though. He knew. She told him but she didn’t tell me.”

“Tanger?” Tabby guesses without my having to tell her and when I nod, she closes her eyes and shakes her head. “I’m sorry Max. I should have known....”

“You knew?” I feel like I should be angry, but sort of like how Becky didn’t cry I can’t manage to stir up any indignation at the thought that somehow I’ve ended up being the last to know that my girlfriend...or at least the woman I thought was my girlfriend has been seeing my best friend.
“Well...let’s just say that I knew that Kris had feelings for her but...I wasn’t sure she felt the same.” I feel Tabby’s hand on my arm and I know it’s supposed to be comforting but it just makes me realize how alone I am and so I push her hand away, gently.  “Max...?” she looks at me, her eyes narrowed, her mouth pursed and it’s that look she gives Sid sometimes when she thinks he’s keeping something from her, which is usually no more than he has some photo shoot that means he’s going to miss dinner or something, nothing like this.

“I went home to find her...her sister came looking for her...her mom died,” I explain. Maybe because I think I have to or maybe to delay the inevitable.

“Oh that’s so sad. Is Becky o....” Tabby’s voice drops away and then I feel her hands on my arms as she tries to get me to look at her. I don’t want to look at her. I don’t want to look at anyone. I’m the fucking super stud who just found his girlfriend in bed with another man. How can I look at anyone again? “Max! What’s going on? You just said you didn’t even know the woman was sick so...?” she gives me a little shake but I still can’t look at her. I guess I think she’ll laugh even though I know Tabby’s better than that, that she won’t see it as my failing. She’ll probably even be totally on my side but I still don’t want to say it.

“They were in bed together when I got home.” I have to look at her, to see if she knows who I mean and I can tell by how wide her eyes get that she does. “They were in my bed. They did it...in my bed.”

“Oh...oh fuck Max.” I feel her arms around me and it feels like a mom hugging me, like she’s kissing the boo boo better, only I keep thinking it should hurt worse, but all I feel is...empty. 

The room is empty, or almost empty. The bed has been stripped and there are two orderlies taking her mother away on a gurney, under a sheet. I stop them but though she tries, once, twice, Rebecca can’t make herself lift the sheet.

“You don’t have to,” I tell her, putting my hands on her shoulders and drawing her back against the safety of my body. She’s stiff, like a board and it’s a struggle to pull her against me, but I do it anyway.

“I need to know,” she whispers and I watch her hand go out for a third time, shaking the last leaf in fall during a wind storm. It seems to take five minutes but she finally raises the sheet and looks down at her mother’s drawn, pale face. Her eyes are closed and the only thing that hints that she’s not just sleeping, is her blue lips. “Ding, dong the witch is dead.”

The orderly looks up, scandalized. His eyes are wide and his mouth hangs open but Becky just grins at him and then drops the sheet.

“You can take her now. She’s in whatever corner of hell is reserved for sad creatures like her.” Maybe I’m a little shocked too but I keep my opinions to myself. She wasn’t my mother. I didn’t have to grow up with her. We watch them wheel the gurney away and then Becky breathes a long, heavy sigh of relief. “I can’t promise I won’t be like her,” she says quietly, almost under her breath as she leans into me, feeling relaxed for maybe the very first time.
“You’re already nothing like her, mon ange,” I tell her, brushing her temple with my lips. “You’re you, you’re Rebecca, la femme que j’aime.”

“Was that...that was your mother?” We both turn to see a young nurse standing nearby, a handful of photos in one hand and a stuffed bear in the other. Rebecca nods and turns her gaze back to the hallway, from which the orderlies and her mother’s body have disappeared. “You were here before, right? But...you were with...,” she looks at me and then looks quickly away. It’s a mannerism I recognize. It means she recognizes me but is trying for cool. “You were with someone else.”

“I was,” Rebecca says coolly, reaching up to lay her fingers against mine where they’re still on my shoulder.

“And that was...it was Max Talbot...right?” the girl says, looking up at me from beneath her lashes and a curly red bangs. She blushes bright red beneath a myriad of freckles that cover her nose and round cheeks.

“Mmm,” Becky replies dispassionately. “And this is Kristopher Letang and you are?”

“Oh I’m no one,” the nurse blushes even more deeply and looks away. “I just...well I’m a fan,” she admits, looking up at me and I nearly open my mouth to ask her if she’s seriously going to ask for an autograph when she knows damn well Rebecca’s mother has just been wheeled away. “I’m so sorry for your loss,” she adds quickly, regaining some of her composure and straightening her shoulders. “And these were your mother’s,” she adds, holding the bear and the photos out. Becky starts to refuse, but I hold the hand out that she isn’t holding and take the items. She might want them later. “I met Max once,” she says, mostly to me, and in the sort of tone that says she doesn’t want to be considered one of those girls who giggles and wiggles. “You guys were here for a charity visit or something but he took all this time with this little girl with leukemia and...I just thought he was amazing. I just...I thought if he was here, again, I could tell him. I didn’t get the chance earlier.”

“He’s upstairs,” Rebecca says before I get the chance, “in maternity. One of our friends...one of his friends just had a kid,” she adds, and when I look down she’s wearing the barest hint of a smile. “You should tell him, really. I think he’d really appreciate that.”