Accidental Seduction by Kim Pritekel

Accidental Seduction
by Kim Pritekel

Erin Lawson looked up into the early September sky and cringed. The clouds were building at an alarming rate and she just knew the rains were going to come tumbling down, just like they’d done every afternoon that week.

“Crap,” she muttered.

“Dammit, Erin!” Shawn Lawson complained. “Hold your end!”

Erin shook herself out of her weather thoughts and returned her attention back to the couch she and her older brother were carrying into Shawn’s best friend, Lance’s new house.

“It goes against the long wall,” Lance directed, squeezing out of the small house past Erin to grab another load from the U-Haul parked in the one-car garage driveway.

Erin and Shawn got the couch situated, Erin flopping down onto it, followed by her brother, older by eleven years. “Why does Lance have so much damn shit?” Erin asked.

Shawn shook his head. “Hell if I know. I’ve known the guy for what, fifteen years?” Shawn said, resting his tired head against the back of the couch. “He’s always been a hoarder, I swear.”

Erin smirked, pulling her long ponytail around front so she could study the dark strands. “I think you’re right,” she muttered absently, picking out a piece of lint from the hair.

“Come on, guys!” Lance complained as he made his way inside carrying another box. He carefully dodged the obstacle course of boxes and furniture as he hurried past the pair. “Alex is gonna be here soon, and I promised her that I’d have all this done before she gets here!”

Erin looked at her brother. “Pussy whipped, much?”

Shawn laughed as he pushed up from the couch. “Come on.” He grabbed his sister by the hand and tugged her to her feet. “Let’s finish this so we can get the hell outta here.”

“Good,” Erin sighed. “I’ve got a date tonight.”

The trio worked diligently, the U-Haul emptying quickly. The two best friends were in the house putting various pieces of furniture together, leaving Erin to finish unloading the last few boxes from the box truck. Two boxes stacked in her arms, she carefully navigated the ridged ramp leading down to the sloped driveway from the back of the truck.

“Hi,” a woman said, nearly startling Erin nearly to the point of dropping the boxes. “Oh jeez, I’m sorry. Let me help you.”

Erin allowed the woman to take the top box before it slid to the ground. She finally got a look at the woman and nearly dropped the last remaining box she carried. The woman was a bit shorter than herself with short, sporty blonde hair and a charming smile. What caught Erin’s gaze the most however, were the greenest eyes she’d ever seen. For a moment she wondered if they were contacts, as they seemed to almost glow.

“I’m Alex,” the blonde introduced, not bothering to extend a hand, as Erin’s hands were full of box.

“Erin.”

“Shawn’s sister, right?” Alex asked, leading the way towards the house.

“Yep.”

As they walked to the house, Erin couldn’t help but notice Alex’s tight little ass, which was encased in tight little shorts. Her blue-eyed gaze slowly moved up to see the tank top Alex was wearing, her arms and shoulders tanned and strong. Again though, Erin’s eyes traveled back down to that great ass.

“Baby!” Shawn exclaimed, running out of the house and grabbing the box from Alex’s hands. “Hi.” He grabbed her in a deep kiss, Alex’s hands pushing against his shoulders.

“Lance,” she muttered, embarrassed by her boyfriend’s public display.

“I’m sorry. I just missed you,” he cooed, one of his hands resting on the very ass that had so thoroughly caught Erin’s attention. “I’ve got the bed put together.”

Erin was stunned. In all the years she’d known Lance, and all the girlfriends he’d had in that time, she’d never seen him go quite as stir crazy as he was over Alexandra Wayland. And, stranger than that, despite the fact that Lance hung out at Erin and Shawn’s place all the time – the house that was right next door to the one Lance had just bought – they’d yet to meet her: until today. Lance claimed he wanted to keep her all to himself for awhile, which Erin wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but okay.

Alex pushed away from Lance, sending an apologetic smile over her shoulder at Erin. “Let’s just get things moved in, okay?” she told her boyfriend, trying to keep her irritation and embarrassment under wraps.

Within an hour, everything was carried in and the boxes were carried to their respective rooms, left for Lance and Alex to unpack later. All four stood in the center of the living room, Lance with an almost possessive arm around Alex’s waist.

“Guess we finally got it done, huh?” Shawn said, clapping his hands together.

“Dude,” Erin said, looking at Lance. “You have more shit than anybody I’ve ever known.”

“Yeah, go fuck yourself, Erin,” Lance growled good-naturedly. He’d always seen Shawn’s little sister as his own, considering he’d known her since she was 4 years old.

“Nightly, big guy. Nightly.”

The room erupted into laughter, other than Alex, who wasn’t quite sure what to make of the dynamics between the three friends. She had heard often about Shawn and Erin Lawson, but had never met them and had never seen the interaction with them and Lance. It was lewd, though sometimes funny, and certainly extremely close. She couldn’t help but feel a bit like a third wheel.

“So where’s the pizza and beer you promised us?” Shawn asked his buddy, dark brow raised in challenge.

“Pizza and beer?” Lance asked, baffled.

“Yeah. I remember you mentioning something about that, too,” Erin joined in, her and Shawn easily hiding their smiles.

Lance glanced over at his girlfriend, who simply shrugged. “Uh, okay.”

“Cool. You jack asses go get the beer and Alex and I will go get the pizza,” Erin announced, reaching across and grabbing Alex’s hand and tugging her over to her. “See you guys back here in forty-five.”

Alex was tugged out of the house behind a very determined Erin, a woman she’d met barely an hour before. Once her hand was dropped, she fell behind Erin’s much longer stride. She quickly caught up, wondering why they were walking to the house next door.

“Um, Erin?”

“Yes Alex?” Erin asked, taking her keys out of the pocket of her baggy shorts.

“Where are we going?”

Erin stopped abruptly, Alex nearly running into her. “To get pizza.” She clicked the alarm remote on her key chain, her Honda chirping to life.

“Oh.” Alex felt like an idiot as she climbed into the front passenger seat. “I saw the other house and,” she waved her own words. “I feel like a dork.”

“Nah,” Erin consoled, “No worries. Me and Shawn are your neighbors! Aren’t you excited?” Erin inserted her key into the ignition, deafening rock music filling the car. “Shit!” She clicked the volume down to 0, giving Alex a sheepish grin.

“Like loud music, do you?” Alex drawled, tugging her seatbelt into place.

“Sometimes.” Erin pulled away from the curb and got them on the road.

“And, as for the neighbor thing, I don’t live with Lance.”

Erin looked over at her passenger, surprised. “You’re not moving in with him?”

Alex smirked and glanced out the window at the passing scenery. “No.”

Erin studied her passenger for a moment before returning her attention back to the road. Moments later she pulled into the parking lot of Papa John’s Pizza. She cut the engine and turned to her passenger. “Is this okay?”

“Yeah.”

The two got out of the car and walked into the store, the wonderful fragrance of pizza hitting them in the face upon entry. Erin led the way up to the ordering counter, looking up at the lit menu board above the drink station.

“What’s your poison, Alex?” she asked, looking down at the blonde.

Alex chewed on her bottom lip as she studied the options. “Well, I know Lance likes mushrooms but I can’t stand them.”

Erin wrinkled her nose. “Fungus is gross.”

Alex looked at Erin. “Thank you! I’ve been saying that for years, but nobody will listen to me. Why don’t we just get plain old pepperoni? Everyone loves pepperoni.”

Erin nodded. “Fair enough.” Erin ordered the two large pizzas and herself a Coke, Alex turning down the offer. Coke in hand, she followed Alex to a table where they could sit and wait for their pizzas. Erin twisted off the cap of her drink and studied Alex.

“What?” Alex asked, feeling somewhat uncomfortable under the intense gaze of this strange woman she’d just met that day.

Erin shook her head. In truth, she was just genuinely enjoying the view. She had a current girlfriend: well, that was way too strong of a word. Mel was more of a fun buddy, perhaps. Somebody to have fun with in or out of the bedroom. But Alex, well… Alex was a work of art and Erin had no damn idea how Lance had gotten his hands on someone like her. After all, Lance, though not a bad looking guy, was annoying, stupid, had bad hygiene habits – oh wait, that was most men. Okay, still, how on earth had he gotten her?!

“Erin, you’re staring at me and it’s making me really uncomfortable,” Alex said quietly, fighting the urge to squirm in her chair.

Erin shook herself out of it. “Sorry. So, how did you and dumbass end up together, anyway?”

“Dumbass?”

“Yeah. That’s my term of endearment for my brother and Lance, who is essentially another big brother,” Erin explained, taking a swig of her Coke. She held the bottle across the table in offer. “You sure?”

“Uh, yes. I’m sure. Thank you. And, why do you call them that? How long have you known Lance?”

“Because they are dumbasses mainly. Shit, I’ve known Lance since I was like 4 years old. He kinda helped Shawn look out for me.” She smirked. “Not so sure how good a job they did.” She saw Alex open her mouth to speak and could see a million questions in her eyes, so decided to stop her before she could begin. “What do you do? How did you meet Lance?” she asked again.

“I am an X-Ray technician and I met Lance on a blind date. Some friends set us up,” Alex explained, sitting back in her chair and resting her hands in her lap.

“Do those friends have another of you to set me up with?” Erin asked, brow raised.

Alex stared at Erin for a moment, stunned at Erin’s boldness, which she voiced. “You certainly are bold, aren’t you?”

Erin shrugged. “There are worst things to be.”

Alex studied her for a moment then burst into laughter, right as their order was called out as finished and ready to be picked up. Alex pushed up from her chair, shaking her head. “You’re a piece of work, Erin.”

Back at the house, the guys had arrived back with beer and Jack Daniels before the women, and had already gotten started. As Erin and Alex made their way up the walkway to the front door, they could already hear the guys laughing and taunting each other. Erin tossed Alex a glance.

“Oh goody.”

Alex smiled and pushed open the front door. Sure enough, Shawn and Lance were sitting on the couch and love seat respectively, Shawn with a beer bottle to his lips, Lance’s bottle held on his knee.

“Hey!” Lance exclaimed, popping up from the couch and hurrying over to Alex. Beer bottle in hand, he grabbed the petit blonde and pulled her against him, taking her mouth in a demanding kiss.

Erin felt irritated for some reason, as she brushed by the couple, fighting the urge to elbow Lance in the kidney in passing. She set the pizza boxes on the kitchen counter. “Dinner!” she hollered, though it was unnecessary, as her brother was hot on her heels and Lance and Alex weren’t far behind.

Erin loaded her plate with slices of fragrant pizza then grabbed two bottles of Coors from Erin’s fridge. She didn’t notice Alex’s surprised gaze. Flopping down on the couch, Erin put her feet up on the coffee table, crossed at the ankles and began to dig in. Within a few moments, Shawn sat next to me.

“You okay, sport?” he asked, sipping from his beer, plate of pizza balanced on his thigh.

“Yup,” I responded, not bothering to look at him as I twisted the cap off my first Bud and took a long swig. I could feel his eyes on me, but I ignored him, just like I ignored the love birds who camped out across from us on the loveseat.

I knew I was being somewhat of a petulant child, but dammit all, I was jealous! It was crazy, it was nuts it was insane and completely ridiculous. Throughout the years, both Lance and Shawn had had beautiful women, great cars, great weed, whatever. In all that time, I’d never been jealous of either of them nor of what they had. But, for some reason with Alex, I was gritting my teeth and would do anything to sitting next to her as Lance was, feeding her a piece of pepperoni off my pizza and in general cooing like a 4 year old. I’d never seen Lance like that with any woman, and though I’d known Alex for exactly a single afternoon, I totally got why.

As dinner progressed, so did the guys’ drinking. I was on my third beer, and admittedly was beginning to feel a bit of a buzz starting. I noticed Alex was still on her first, though Lance and Shawn both gave her shit about being a “light weight”.

“Beer sucks, guys,” Alex defended.

“Yeah, that’s because you like that girly, fru-fru shit,” Lance admonished.

“What’s wrong with that?” she asked, her attention caught by Shawn’s laughter at Lance’s words, as well as the two guys hit a high high-five.

Erin watched the interplay and rolled her eyes, finishing off her third beer and tossing the beer onto the floor with the other three empty bottles. “Who wants another one?” she asked, getting to her feet and stepping over outstretched legs and empty beer bottles and plates.

“Get me one,” Shawn said.

“Yeah, get Alex one, too,” Lance called out.

“I don’t want another one, Lance.”

“She doesn’t want another one, Lance,” Erin called from the kitchen as she pulled open the fridge door.

“Bring her another one anyway!” Lance called.

Alex looked over at her boyfriend, who she could tell was well on his way to serious inebriation. In the time they’d been dating, she’d never seen him so drunk, nor had she seen him get so aggressive and obnoxious.

Erin returned a few moments later with an armful of beer, save for Alex. She met Alex’s gaze after not handing her a beer, with a wink. She got a smile in return.

“What about Alex?” Lance asked. “That was fucking rude, Erin.”

“Lance, drop it, man,” Shawn said, giving his friend a warning glance.

“No. Goddamnit, I said I wanted Erin to get another beer for my goddamn girlfriend and she fucking ignores me!” He got to his feet, nearly tripping over his own coffee table in the process.

“And your goddamn girlfriend said she didn’t want another one, so knock it off,” Shawn growled, prepared to push up from the couch.

“Guys, stop,” Alex said. She set her unfinished beer aside and stood. “This isn’t necessary.”

“Where are you going?” Lance boomed.

Alex looked up at her boyfriend, the irritation clearly written all over her face. “You’re drunk Lance, and I don’t want to be around it.” She stepped past him and headed to the door, grabbing her purse from the end table. “Thank you all for dinner, but I’m heading home.”

Everyone watched her leave, a mixed bag of expressions on their faces. “Nice going, dumbass,” Shawn said.

“Fuck this. I’m getting her back.” Lance headed for the door but was stopped by a hand on his chest.

“Leave her alone, man,” Shawn said, eyeing his friend. “She’s right: you’re drunk. You become a real asshole when you’re drunk, so leave her alone for tonight.”

While the guys talked, Erin hurried out the front door. “Hey!” she called to Alex, who was already at her car. She jogged over to the blonde. “You okay?” she asked the obviously shaken Alex.

Alex crossed her arms over her chest, glancing up at Lance’s house before staring down at the street under her feet. “I’ll live. He’s just not usually like that.”

Erin shrugged her shoulders. “He has his moments. Sounds like he’s been on his best behavior with you.”

Alex’s head shot up. “Are you bad mouthing my boyfriend, Erin?”

“No,” Erin said calmly. “I’ve known the guy for fifteen years, and I know he can be an ass sometimes.”

Alex sighed, nodding. “Yeah.”

“Look, I can see that you’re still upset and I really don’t want you driving home after that beer; it’s obvious you are a light weight.”

Alex smiled. “Yes, that I am. Not a big drinker at all.”

“Well,” Erin said, walking around the car to Alex’s side. She grabbed Alex’s hand and tugged her away from the car and towards Erin’s house. Once she was sure Alex was with her, she dropped her hand, though reluctantly. “If you’re gonna stay in this crowd, I’d recommend you learn how to live with it, and definitely Lance.”

“Where are we going, Erin?” Alex asked, stepping up onto the front porch of a small, two-story house that had already been identified as Erin and Shawn’s house.

“My place,” Erin stated simply, unlocking the front door and holding it open for Alex. “Head on up the stairs.”

Alex looked around the small living room, which essentially matched the size and shape of Lance’s. The furniture, like the house, was old and well-worn but also well-kept, which was surprising, considering what she’d gleaned from the siblings who lived there. She saw the staircase and headed for it, just as Erin had directed.

“Last door at the end of the hall,” Erin said, following behind Alex.

The door was closed, so Alex turned the knob and pushed the door open. It was the master bedroom, though it was absolutely huge! It seemed as though the wall between two rooms had been knocked down, turning the room into a combination sleeping space and living space. In the room that the door opened up to was obviously the living space, with a couch and easy chair, as well as a large, flat-screened TV and a couple bookshelves filled with what looked to be music books and vinyl records.

As Alex stepped further in, she noted a small, dorm-style fridge under the window, but what caught her eye the most were the various musical instruments – from guitars to keyboards to a violin – that were either hung on the walls or sat neatly in stands on the floor. She noted the sleeping space, which was the other bedroom, with a large, comfortable-looking bed and all the trappings of a bedroom. Like the downstairs area, the space was neat and clean.

She turned to face Erin, who was leaning against the closed door of the room, arms crossed over her chest as she watched Alex. “This is a really neat space.”

“Thank you. I spend most of my time in here. The upstairs is pretty much my domain, other than the kitchen, downstairs basically belongs to Shawn.” Erin pushed off the door and walked over to the small fridge. “Sit down,” she offered. “Want anything to drink?”

Alex sat on the couch, legs together and hands I her lap, a bit nervous. She continued to look around, studying the instruments. “Do you play all of these?”

“Sure do,” Erin said, grabbing a bottle of water for herself and one for Alex, even though the blonde hadn’t answered her offer. “Here.” She was glad Alex took the water, then sat down in the easy chair, flopping a long let over one of the arms. She studied the woman who sat across from her.

“Thank you,” Alex said, twisting off the cap of the bottled water. She took a long sip, studying Erin as she did. Setting the re-capped bottle aside, Alex crossed one leg over the other. “Why did you bring me up here, Erin?”

Erin smirked. “Because I think you’re fascinating, Alex.”

“I hardly consider myself fascinating,” Alex laughed, though a little nervously. “I’m a simple girl who works at a hospital taking X-Rays all day. Pretty simple Simon, really.”

“I bet you look cute as hell in those scrubs. Do you wear the ones with little ducks and shit on them?”

“Are you hitting on me, Erin?”

“What, can’t a girl tell another girl that she’s hot as hell? That she’s got the cutest ass ever?”

Alex burst into laughter. “Okay, I know you had quite a few beers tonight, so I’ll forgive your boldness.” She sipped from her water. “You know you don’t stand a chance in hell with me, right?”

Erin sighed, flopping an arm lazily over the back of the chair she lounged in. “I believe in dreaming,” she teased.

Alex smiled and shook her head. “Well, dream on, lady. I’m taken, and I don’t play for your side, unfortunately.”

Erin sighed dramatically. “You’re far too sexy to be straight.”

“You are too much. What, are you saying straight girls should be ugly?” Alex challenged.

“Well, anybody who settles for a big, sweaty, disgusting piece of sausage, yeah,” Erin said, her voice far more serious than her actual thoughts.

“So, you’re saying your brother is nothing more than a big, sweaty, disgusting piece of sausage?”

Erin drained her bottle of water and nodded. “I’ve told him that to his face.”

“How come you hate men so much?” Alex asked, just this side of offended for men.

“I don’t hate men. I just hate their big, sweaty disgusting piece of sausage,” Erin said simply.

Alex pushed up from the couch. “This is ridiculous, Erin. I’m leaving.” She turned to head to the door, but for some reason, she didn’t want to leave. Instead, she walked over to the violin that hung on the wall in a special holder. “Tell me you don’t play the violin?”

“I don’t play the violin,’ Erin said dryly. She smirked at the glare that earned her. “it’s one of my favorite instruments.” She watched as Alex walked over to it. “I thought you were leaving?”

“Don’t piss me off anymore or I will,” Alex chided, a brow raised in challenge and a twinkle in her eye.

Erin also stood, hands tucked into the back pockets of her shorts as she watched Alex gently and carefully touch the wooden instrument. “Man, you’ve got some serious fire in you, woman.”

Alex chuckled. “May I?” she asked, indicating the violin. At Erin’s nod, she carefully removed the instrument from its holdings and looked it over. “This has always been my favorite instrument. To me, there’s nothing more beautiful than a single, solo violin.” She looked up at Erin, who was walking over to her. “It’s kind of like a distant train whistle at night: lonely and mysterious.”

“That’s a beautiful way to put it, and I couldn’t agree more,” Erin said. She stood a few feet away from Alex, watching as the blonde handed the violin to her. “Want me to play you something?”

“Please?”

“Sure.”

Alex was surprised to see all the instruments that littered Erin’s room, though once she realized she was a musician, the guitars – both acoustic and electric – didn’t necessarily surprise her, given the heavy metal she had playing in her car. But, when she’d spotted the violin on the wall, something inside Alex was suddenly intrigued. Such an elegant instrument, and an instrument that had always touched Alex in the deepest parts of her soul.

Now, a she watched Erin retrieve the bow from the case against the wall, she was curious as to what she was going to hear. Would Erin be any good? Would she play some crazy, whacked out piece?

“What would you like to hear?” Erin asked, unknowingly interrupting Alex’s thoughts.

Alex shrugged, stepping away from Erin to give her room to play. “Whatever. I love music, but honestly don’t know it well enough to know what any pieces are called. I just know whether I do or don’t like something when I hear it.”

“Okay.” Erin stroked the instrument lovingly as she thought about the piece she wanted to play. suddenly, she got an evil glint in her eye and brought the instrument up and into place. Her movements were quick and concise as she played the solo from Charlie Daniels’ Devil Went Down to Georgia.

Alex was absolutely delighted, a grin spreading across her face as her toe began to tap along, her head bobbing to the music. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. When Erin finished with a flourish, Alex clapped, her blood pumping with excitement. “That was awesome!’

Erin grinned, taking an exaggerated bow. “Thank you,” she said, somewhat out of breath. “Doubted me, didn’cha?”

Alex rolled her eyes. “What else ya got?”

Erin studied Alex for a moment, chewing on her bottom lip as she made a decision. “Alright, I’m going to play you something that I composed myself. If you laugh,” she warned, pointing the bow at Alex, “I’ll skin you alive.”

“Fine. I won’t laugh,” Alex promised. She crossed her arms over her chest and waited. She could see a change come over Erin, and suddenly the goofy, fun-loving woman she’d come to know Erin as disappeared. In her place was a serious and, she wasn’t sure quite how to put it: deep person, emerged. If Alex didn’t know any better, she’d think that Erin had just stepped out on a concert hall stage, replete with tux and tails.

Erin closed her eyes as she began to play, the music flowing from her heart into her fingertips. The notes were clear and leapt out from the violin, reaching out in a sad and touching melody that had Erin moving with the music.

Erin’s fingers played across the fingerboard, producing a sound that reached inside Alex and touched her deeply. Soon, a lone tear was running slowly down her cheek, followed by a second. Alex couldn’t take her eyes off Erin and her violin, and the seeming connection the two had. She brought up a hand and wiped at her tears, only for more to follow. Somehow in that piece of music she felt everything that was inside Erin. She felt a loneliness and sadness that she, herself could relate to.

Erin forgot about the world around her, forgot where she was and even forgot the woman who stood mere feet away, listening. In her mind she was floating above it all, above her life, above those in her life and above all that was missing. Her fingers moved freely, her body swaying with the sounds she was producing.

When the piece was finished, Erin was brought swiftly back to her room when she heard a soft sob followed a released breath. She opened her eyes and found herself looking into tear-filled green eyes.

“My god, Erin,” Alex whispered, feeling stupid as she wiped the tears from her face. “That was incredible.”

Erin smiled, and though she wanted to tease Alex for her emotional reaction – more out of insecurity than because she truly thought it was silly – she just didn’t have the heart to. “Thanks,” was all she could say. She lowered the violin and bow, taking a deep breath. She’d never let anyone hear her compositions before, not even Shawn. “Glad you liked.” She shrugged nonchalantly as she replaced the violin and bow. “It’s just something I’ve been working on for awhile.”

Alex took a moment, then gave Erin the sweetest of smiles. “You surprise me, Erin.” She gathered up her unfinished bottle of water and purse. “Something tells me there’s far more to you than meets the eye.” She walked up to Erin and squeezed her arm. “I need to get home, but thank you for that and thank you for getting my mind off of Lance’s bullshit. I really appreciate it.”

“Sure,” Erin said, wanting nothing more than to keep Alex in her room, play more music for her and learn more about her. “Are you okay to drive?”

“Yes, I’m fine.” Alex walked to the door, and with one final look, was gone.

Erin sighed and sat heavily on the arm of her easy chair. “Shit.”

*****

The next morning, Erin sat at the kitchen table digging into a bowl of Fruit Loops when Shawn stumbled up from his dungeoness bedroom and living quarters. He looked like hell, with bloodshot eyes and hair all over the place. He needed a shave and a shower.

“You stink, bro,” Erin muttered around a mouthful of cereal.

Shawn grunted and headed for the fridge and the ingredients to make a pot of coffee. “Where did you take off to last night?”

“Nowhere. I was here the entire time.” Erin finished the last of her cereal then rinsed the bowl out in the sink, putting it and the spoon in the dishwasher.

“With Alex? Did you bring Alex here, too?” Shawn asked, filling the glass carafe, which he held up in invitation to his baby sister. At her nod, he filled it enough for the both of them.

“Yep. Fucked her brains out, too.” Erin laughed at her brother’s look. “Jesus, man, I’m kidding! You looked at me like you suspected that’s what I’d done.”

“Well, what did you do?” he growled, knowing full well his sister’s penchant for beautiful woman, and the fact that she usually got her way with them.

“We talked a bit and I played her some music,” Erin explained, a bit sheepish.

“Oh, Erin,” Shawn groaned, burying his face in his hands.

“What? This isn’t Natalie, so knock it off.”

Shawn stared at her for a long time then finally nodded and turned back to the coffee maker. “You’re right, it’s not. Sorry.”

Erin stared at her brother’s back for a long time, hurt. “Shawn, that was a long time ago. Why can’t you just let it go?”

“It was two years ago, and it’s hard to forget that your little sister stole your girlfriend, Erin.” He leaned against the counter, tattoo-covered arms crossed over his bare chest. “It just makes me nervous. With you, it’s always the music. They run to you, legs spread and I don’t get why.”

Erin couldn’t be proud of this fact, as she knew she’d hurt her brother deeply with the Natalie incident. “I’m sorry, Shawn. I love you and you know I’d never do anything to hurt you on purpose. Or Lance, for that matter.” She smirked. “I actually did him a favor last night.”

“How do you figure? What, did you piss off Alex so bad that she wants nothing to do with you?” Shawn asked, grabbing two mugs from the cabinet above the microwave. “Grab the creamer from the fridge. Get the French vanilla one, not that nasty chocolate crap.”

Erin did as she was asked, setting the bottle down on the counter by the coffee maker. “He was acting like an ass last night; he always does when he’s had too much to drink. If Alex had stayed there much longer, she probably would have ended up slapping him and breaking up with him.”

Shawn sighed, pouring the two mugs of coffee. He knew damn well that his sister was probably right. “She is pretty hot though, isn’t she?” he asked with the same charming smile that Erin possessed: it was a Lawson family trait.

“She’s gorgeous,” Erin muttered, accepting the filled mug. She added some sugar and cream then sat at the kitchen table again.

“You like her, don’t you?” Shawn asked, sitting across from her, his blue eyes, also a Lawson family trait, bored into her. “Don’t you?”

Erin played with her mug for a moment then finally nodded. “Yeah. Not even real sure why. She’s not my type at all.”

Shawn barked out laughter. “Bullshit! She’s female, gorgeous and unavailable. She’s exactly your type.”

Erin was hurt and wanted to lash out. “You know, Shawn, if a woman is happy and satisfied in a relationship, nothing and nobody can make her look elsewhere. She can’t be stolen.”

Shawn slammed back from the table, nearly dumping his coffee in the process. “Fuck you, Erin.”

Erin watched as her brother and only family, disappeared down into his cave. With a heavy sigh, she also stood from the table and headed upstairs to get ready for work.

Once tucked safely in her rooms, Erin headed immediately for the bathroom and a shower, stripping on the short journey from her bedroom door to the bathroom. Naked, she got the water running to her preferred temperature and then slid past the plastic curtain. As she rinsed her hair for shampooing, she thought about the argument she’d just had with her brother, who she loved above anyone in the world.

Shawn was eleven years older than she was, and at the tender age of 18, he’d been given full custody of his baby sister as their father had been put in prison for child molestation and their mother was a useless drunk, neither of which the Lawson siblings had seen in more than ten years, and neither saw it as a huge loss. Shawn had struggled to keep him and his baby sister above water, but had succeeded, and in so doing, the siblings had become far more than mere brother and sister: they had become each other’s only family and best friend.

When Erin was 15, she discovered the love of her life, and that was women. From all that she and Shawn had been through in their short lives, there was no time for childish games or for being a teenager: nope, Erin had gone from child to adult pretty much overnight, and with her height and inherent beauty, she had been able to pretty much write her own ticket with whomever she pleased, and had done so.

Then there was Shawn. It was likely there was only one woman he’d ever truly loved, and that was Natalie. Natalie Brown had come into their lives four years ago, and she and Shawn had been an instant pair. Natalie was fun, warm and incredibly beautiful and unavailable: exactly Erin’s type, just as Shawn had said.

Erin hadn’t meant to “steal” her away, nor anything else. She and Natalie had become good friends, as Natalie was closer to Erin’s age than Shawn’s. They both enjoyed many of the same things, including music. Erin had written songs for Natalie, unbeknownst to Shawn at the time, and eventually, the two women had slept together. It had been an accidental seduction, and one which Erin greatly regretted. Though over time her brother had forgiven her, their relationship seemed to never be quite the same.

Then there was Lance. Boyhood friends with Shawn, he had been every bit as much of a big brother to Erin as Shawn, himself had. In fact, during the turbulent Natalie days, Erin had stayed with Lance in the piece-of-shit apartment he’d had across town, before he’d bought the house next door.

Then there was Alex. Undeniably attracted to her, Erin thought about her actions of bringing the blonde to her place the night before. Erin washed her body as she thought about her actions, and perhaps any subconscious motives behind them. Yes, she had wanted to get Alex out of the that situation, just as she’d explained to Shawn moments before. She knew how Lance could be, and knew her friend had lost more than one woman in his life due to his drinking.

“Don’t lie, Erin,” she whispered as she began to lather shaving gel on her armpit. “You wanted her to yourself.”

Finishing up her shower, Erin dried herself off and, naked, continued getting ready. She brushed out the long strands of her hair, looking at her reflection in the mirror above the sink. Her bright blue eyes stared back at her, their depths filled with confusion and guilt. She let out a heavy sigh and got dressed; the shop needed her, as it was highly unlikely Shawn would be showing up anytime soon that day.

*****

Six couples: Shawn and his girlfriend, Lisa, Erin and Mel and Lance and Alex, sat around the large dining room table Lance had, cards, poker chips and drinks scattered along the smooth table surface.

“Nice job, baby,” Melanie purred to Erin, placing a quick kiss on her cheek, even as her hand rubbed Erin’s thigh under the table.

Erin grinned like a Cheshire cat at Lance, who sat across from her. She could feel Alex’s eyes on her, but she ignored her, pretty much as she’d been doing all night. “What’cha got, big guy?”

Lance looked down at the full house Erin had just tossed to the table. With an irritated sigh, he tossed his own cards to the table, revealing two pair, ten high. “Bitch.”

Erin grinned and scooped up the chips in the middle of the table, carefully adding them to the stacks she already had before her. “Ante up, gang.”

“I don’t have anything left, you pain in the ass!” Shawn complained, reaching his arm out to rest along the back of Lisa’s chair.

Lisa tossed in a few chips. “I think I’ve got enough to go one more round.”

“Babe?” Erin said, turning to Mel, who also tossed in a couple chips. Erin looked at Lance. “You got the big ones to go one more round against me?”

Lance glared, but tossed in two of his profoundly dwindled stack of chips.

Finally, Erin turned her gaze to Alex. ‘You gonna play?”

Alex didn’t say a word, just tossed in her chips, her gaze locked on Erin’s in silent challenge. Alex was the only player at the table whose stack of chips almost rivaled Erin’s. Almost.

“Dealer, deal ’em,” Erin said to Shawn, who had begun to shuffle the cards. Erin was held by Alex’s gaze, unable to look away. In the green depths of Alex’s eyes, Erin could see questions.

Earlier, when everyone had arrived at Lance’s house with their respective girlfriends in tow, Erin had greeted everyone with a hug or teasing word, and had only given Alex an acknowledging nod. Erin looked away.

As Shawn dealt the cards, he watched the silent interaction between the two and then quickly looked at Lance, who was oblivious. Dread crept up Shawn’s spine. He had noticed his sister’s distanced behavior towards Alex, but he’d also noticed that Alex wasn’t taking it entirely sitting down.

As the game continued, one by one people were folding or were out of the game altogether, out of chips from the two card sharks that sat diagonally from each other at the oval-shaped table.

“Fuck it,” Lance growled, pushing back from the table as he played his final losing hand, this time losing the last of his chips to his own girlfriend. “Anyone else want another drink?”

“Lance, you promised,” Alex said.

“I know, I know,” Lance muttered, irritation marking his voice at his loss at cards. Usually he was a hell of a lot better player than this. He grabbed himself a beer and drinks for the few others that had asked, including Erin.

“Your deal, Erin,” Alex said, setting the deck in front of the younger woman.

Erin took the cards, immediately dropping her gaze from Alex’s, which was far too easy to get caught up in. Erin shuffled the cards quickly and thoroughly, her hand a blur as she dealt cards to her brother, Alex and herself. She set the spent deck aside and collected her own cards, Mel leaning into her to look over her shoulder at her hand.

“Good hand, baby,” Mel commented.

Erin tossed her a smile, but in truth, she was irritated by Mel’s clinginess tonight. She just wanted to play and have a good time, and not play touchy feely all the damn time! She stopped her own thought process, surprised at it. Since when was she not in the mood for a gorgeous woman to hang all over her? She looked across the table only to meet Alex’s gaze, the blonde’s eyes quickly dropping to her own hand, which she was arranging. Erin noted the almost possessive arm Lance had strung across the back of her chair.

“Three,” Shawn said, knocking Erin out of her reverie.

“Two,” Alex said quietly.

Erin doled out the cards, giving herself two cards as well. The three players sat in silent contemplation, not even disturbed when Lance pushed away from the table again, grabbing his beer and heading into the living room, where he turned on the TV and found a game.

“What’s with him?” Erin asked Shawn, who shrugged.

“He doesn’t like to lose,” Alex ventured.

Erin smirked. “I raise you losers by four.” She plucked four chips from one of her many stacks and placed

“Aw man, Erin,” Shawn whined. “That’s all I got!”

Erin grinned. “In it to win it or lose it to booze it. You’re choice, big bro.” She met his gaze, hers filled with challenge, his filled with playful irritation.

“You’re a shit,” Shawn muttered, tossing in the last of his chips.

“So you’ve been saying for almost twenty years.” Erin turned her gaze on Alex. “You in or out, Alex?”

Alex didn’t say a word, simply tossed in four chips, then tossed in four more.

“Shit. I’m out.” Shawn threw his cards down and pushed away from the table, Lisa following as they joined Lance in the living room.

“Come on, baby,” Mel said, grabbing Erin’s chin in her hand and bringing Erin’s head around to face her. She delivered a deep, passionate kiss. “For luck,” she murmured against Erin’s surprised lips, then glanced across at Alex, challenge in her dark eyes.

Recovering from the unexpected kiss, Erin looked over at Alex. She tossed in the extra ante, then five more. She met Alex’s surprised gaze, slightly cocking her head to the side, wondering what Alex would do.

Alex chewed on her bottom lip for a moment as she studied her cards, then studied Erin’s face, as though trying to read through the expressionless mask the younger woman wore. “I’ll meet you and raise you six.”

Erin broke out into a smile. “Damn woman, you got a pair on you.” She couldn’t help it as her gaze fell to Alex’s full breasts, which were shown off well in the cap-sleeve tee she wore.

Alex smirked at the move, but then waited patiently. When she saw that Erin wasn’t going to raise the bid after she’d tossed in the extra ante, she met Erin’s gaze. “Show me what you got.”

“You first,” Erin countered.

“Alright. I’m woman enough.”

Erin burst into laughter at Alex’s bravado. She watched as Alex lay her hand down on the table, one card at a time. Her own bravado fell when she saw spade after spade come into play. “Royal flush,” she muttered.

“Read ’em and weep,” Alex said, her voice deceptively soft.

Erin tossed her four of a kind to the table, sighing in defeat. “Good game.”

“Why, thank you.” Alex collected her winnings, happily stacking the chips on her already-impressive piles, now substantially larger than Erin’s.

“Who won?” Shawn asked, walking up to the table.

“Her,” Erin grunted as she stretched in her chair.

“Finally!” Shawn crowed. “‘Bout damn time somebody beat your ass.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Erin muttered, pushing away from the table. She met Alex’s smug gaze. “Next time, you’re mine.”

Alex brought up a hand, held still over the table. “Controlled fear.”

Erin couldn’t help herself as she chuckled. She turned to her Mel. “Come on, let’s get you home. I got to open early tomorrow.”

Everyone gathered in the living room to say their goodbyes. Erin made the rounds of hugs, finally getting to Alex. They stood toe to toe, Alex looking up at Erin expectantly. Feeling obligated – and in truth, she wanted to – she took Alex in a quick, but tight hug.

“Nice game,” Alex said softly. “We should team up: we’d wipe the floor with the rest of them.”

Erin grinned. “Isn’t that the truth.” She stepped away from Alex, noting Lance’s eyes on them. “See you around.”

*****

Three weeks later, Erin was at the music shop/recording studio that she and Shawn had opened up two years before. It was a cold day, as mid-October swept into the area, bringing autumn along with it. Halloween was in two weeks, and that was traditionally the marker for the truly crappy weather to start, though it was crappy weather that Erin loved. She was a snow bunny from day one.

Business was slow, the beginning of the school year rush finished. From August through September they were slammed, as all the local kids were looking to buy or rent instruments for their school band. Luckily, the small recording studio they had helped to save their butt and often. Local artists, and even some from a couple states over, would come in and record demos as well as full albums. Erin had to talk Shawn into that little addition, and rubbed it in often that she was right.

At the moment, she was working on inventory while the store was empty. She made her way around the store with her clipboard, marking down quantities of on-floor stock, then she’d move to the stock room after closing time.

“So, in the middle of your fiddling, why didn’t you tell me you owned a music store?”

Erin was surprised by the sudden voice in her store, and ever more surprised to see that the voice belonged to Alex. “Hey. You didn’t ask.”

Alex rolled her eyes. “Cute.” She looked around, reaching out to run her fingers over the smooth brass of a trumpet.

“I’m sorry, but you’re not allowed to touch the instruments,” Erin chided. “If you do, you have to stay after closing time and polish all of your fingerprints off.”

Alex glanced at Erin over her shoulder, trying to read the very serious-looking woman. It was only after a moment or two of a stare down that she saw the twinkle in Erin’s blue eyes. “Are you ever serious?” she asked, turning to fully face the younger woman.

Erin shrugged, setting the clipboard on the counter by the bullpen the register was in, surrounded by glass-faced cabinets that held smaller accessories such as reeds, parts for instruments and cleaning kits.

“That depends on whether there’s anything to be serious about,” she replied, walking over to Alex, who hadn’t moved from her place next to the trumpet display.

“How about being serious about my invite to the Halloween party that I’m inviting you to?”

Erin stammered mentally for an excuse. Truth was, she wanted nothing more than to go, but was trying her hardest to stay away from Alex and Lance. It hadn’t gone unnoticed from her brother or Lance, himself. When asked about it, Erin made excuses, just as she was about to do now.

“I can’t, but thank you. Melanie and I have plans.”

“Oh?” Alex asked, brow raised. “You guys got back together?”

Drat! “Look Alex, I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“Why not?” Alex was utterly baffled. Hand on hip, she looked up at Erin in confusion. “You are the most confusing woman I’ve ever met. The first time we meet, you’re all over me like white on rice, then you avoid me – so it seems, unless I’m giving myself far too much credit here – and then when we all get together a couple times to play cards, you’re distant and aloof with me, but not with anyone else: that much I know for sure.” When Erin said nothing, Alex took a slight step towards her. “Why do you dislike me so much?” she asked softly.

Now Erin felt like shit. “I don’t dislike you, Alex.”

“So why the lies and drama?”

Alex sighed, shifting her weight from one hip to the other before she decided to be honest. “The boys seem to have this little worry that I steal women from them.”

Alex didn’t mean to, but she burst into sudden laughter. “Are you serious? You can’t steal anyone from anyone.”

“Thank you!” Erin exclaimed, hand flopping to her side. “That’s what I tried to tell them.”

“Have you, though? ‘Stolen’ women from them?”

Erin looked away, feeling ashamed and foolish.

“I see,” Alex said softly. “And, they’re worried that’s what you’re trying to do with me?”

Erin let out a heavy sigh, feeling stupid. “It almost ruined my relationship with Shawn a couple years ago, and nobody wants that to happen again.”

“Okay, sooooo, is someone afraid that’s going to happen with me, or something?” Alex asked, baffled.

Erin smirked. “Shawn picked up on the fact that I wanted to take you up to my bedroom and fuck your brains out the first day I met you.”

Alex was slightly taken aback by the very base and honest response. “I see. Well, you did take me up to your room, but besides a few lewd comments, you didn’t touch me.”

Erin leaned back against the bullpen, holding herself up on her elbows as she studied the other woman. “I’ve thought a lot about why Lance kept you away from me and Shawn until recently.”

“And why’s that?” Alex asked, genuinely interested in her response.

“Because I think he was keeping you away from me.”

Alex again burst into laughter. “God, you are so full of yourself, Erin.”

“I am not!” Erin defended, though she felt like an ass, as Alex was looking at her like she was an ass.

“Well,” Alex said, keeping her amusement in check, as she didn’t necessarily want to offend Erin. “I can assure you, Shawn and Lance that you won’t be stealing me anytime soon, so you can relax and come to the party.”

Erin crossed her arms over her chest, studying Alex with a slightly cocked head. “Alright. I’ll go to your party, but don’t expect me to dress up. The only thing I do on Halloween is play Pumpkin Pick.”

Alex was taken aback. “What the hell is Pumpkin Pick?”

Erin grinned, pushing away from the counter. “Guess you’ll never know, huh?” She made it clear she was dismissing Alex as she grabbed her clipboard and returned to work.

*****

Erin slammed her hand down on the steering wheel in time with the beat of Sarah Brightman’s Deliver Me as she drove home from the shop. She neared the Starbucks by her house and decided to stop for a coffee, and to grab Shawn one, too. As she pulled into the parking lot, she was surprised to see Alex’s blond head bent over a book as she sat at a table in front of one of the massive windows.

Erin killed the engine, never taking her eyes off the blonde, and climbed out of her Honda. She pulled open the glass and metal door and entered the coffee shop, walking immediately over to Alex’s table. Sure enough, she had a book in her hands, head resting against a closed fist, and a paper cup of coffee sitting on the table next to her.

“Well, how do?” Erin asked, plopping down in the other chair of the two-person table.

Alex’s head jerked up, surprised to have someone speak to her, let alone sit with her. She closed her book and set it on the table as she sat back in her chair. “Erin.”

“Yes, ma’am. That would be me.” Erin unwrapped her scarf from her neck, letting the two ends hang freely down the front of her heavy jacket. “What are you doing here?”

“Just killing some time,” Alex said, sipping from her coffee. “I went by Lance’s place but he’s not home yet, so I figured I’d hang here for a bit until he got home. We’re supposed to make the plan for the party next weekend.”

“Ah yes, the Halloween party,” Erin drawled. “Do you have your costume yet?”

Alex shrugged. “I figured I’d just go in my work scrubs and play a doctor or something.”

Erin looked at her, one brow raised in disapproval. “Are you serious? A hot little body like yours, and you’re going to hide it beneath baggy scrubs?”

Alex smirked, amused. “Erin, I know what I got and don’t necessarily feel the need to show it off to the masses.”

“No, but you could show me,” Erin said with an exaggerated grin.

Alex threw her head back and laughed, seeing the mischief in Erin’s eyes. “You’re so bad. Alright then, what are you going as?”

“Me? Ah hell, I’m too cool to dress up for some old people party,” Erin waved off.

“Old people party? How old do you think I am, Erin?” Alex asked seriously, sitting up straight and keeping her face expressionless so Erin could look her over.

Erin took her sweet time, making a show of sweeping her gaze from Alex’s face to her breasts – totally unseen within Alex’s heavy sweater – and back up to her face. “Eh, 30?”

“Thirty?!” Alex exclaimed, insulted. “I’m 25!” She saw Erin’s wide grin and knew she’d just been played. “God!” she exclaimed, exasperated. “You are so damn infuriating sometimes, Erin. You know what I wish?”

“That you could kiss me?”

“No, that you would be serious for longer than five minutes.” Alex was truly irritated, her green eyes aglow. “You may fool people that you are this confident, cocky hot chick who can get whatever and whoever she wants, but I’m going to tell you something: I see through that. What I see is a woman who certainly is beautiful – and definitely knows it – but who isn’t comfortable in that beauty. You think you have to toss around jokes and innuendos constantly because you don’t think people will be able to get through to the real you that way. Well, I’ve got news for you, woman,” Alex said, waggling a finger at her. “I see you and I see the games you try and play, and honestly, I think it’s bullshit.”

Erin could only stare at Alex’s unexpected outburst, stunned and somewhat hurt.

“I don’t want this bullshit wall you put up for everyone else, including the women you fuck. Yes, I saw how you were with that Melanie girl, and unfortunately, she was eating it up.” She pushed back from the table, gathering up her book and coffee and coat, which hung on the back of her chair. “I’ve got enough bullshit in my life, Erin, including with Lance, so I don’t want it from you.”

Erin watched her walk away, struck dumb and nailed to the spot. Finally, she shook herself out of it and ran after Alex. “Hey!” she called, just as Alex was unlocking her car door. “Wait up!”

Alex, already feeling bad about her outburst, unlocked her door, but didn’t open it. She turned to Erin, who was walking up to her. “Wow,” she said quietly. “Wow, I’m sorry.”

“Where did all that come from?”

Alex turned away, reaching up to brush some bangs out of her eyes, blown into her face from the cold wind that was picking up. “I’m really sorry. Guess I’ve just had a really shitty week.”

“Um, yeah. I’m kinda getting that.”

Alex was silent for a moment then turned to Erin. “Do you want to go costume shopping with me?”

Erin was taken aback by the sudden request, but nodded. “Alright.” She hitched a thumb over at her Honda. “My car or yours?”

Alex chewed on her bottom lip, looking back and forth between the two cars. “Yours has better tires, let’s take yours.” She locked her car back up and walked over to the Honda, sliding in the passenger seat after Erin unlocked it for her.

Sliding in behind the wheel, Erin glanced over at her passenger, who was sliding her seatbelt into place. She studied her profile, mind working as she tried to figure the woman out. People over the years had said that Erin was complex and hard to penetrate, but she’d never seen anything like Alex.

Alex felt the heavy stare upon her. She met Erin’s gaze. “What?”

Erin shook her head and turned her focus to starting the engine. “I’m trying to figure you out.”

Alex smiled. “There’s not much to figure out, Erin. Pretty straightforward, what you see is what you get.”

Erin chuckled. “Oh, not so sure about that.” She placed her arm along the back of Alex’s seat as she turned in her seat to see what was behind her as she backed out of the parking space.

Alex felt slightly uncomfortable with the close proximity of Erin as she backed up, but managed to not shrink away. Instead, she allowed herself to get absorbed in the music that came out of the speakers in Erin’s car. Dark blonde brows drawn, she asked, “Who is this?”

“Sarah Brightman,” Erin said absently, getting them merged onto the street in front of Starbucks. “Ever heard her before?” She glanced over at her companion when silence was her response. Alex had her eyes closed and was seemingly listening. Not wanting to disturb her, Erin turned back to the road. She did, however turn the volume up as He Doesn’t See Me began.

Alex absorbed the music and lyrics, but what got to her was the voice. By closing her eyes, she could shut out everything around her and concentrate on it. Pictures began to form in her mind as she listened, her emotions growing heavy in her chest and throat. She was shocked to feel a tear suddenly sneak out and roll lazily down her cheek.

“You okay?” Erin asked softly, reaching out to turn down the music.

Alex nodded, laughing at herself as she wiped the tear away. “I’m sorry; her voice just really got to me.” She sniffled, feeling like an idiot. “You must think I’m pretty stupid about now. An emotional wreck.”

“An emotional wreck today, yes. Stupid, not hardly,” Erin assured. “I first heard Sarah’s voice on my 17th birthday, and never forgot it.” Erin’s voice was soft, almost reverent. “To this day, almost three years later, I can be in the worst mood possible, I mean really pissed off about just about anything, and I hear her voice,” she snapped her fingers. “Gone. I’m fine again.” She smiled over at Alex, who was listening intently. “I saw her in concert only once.”

“Really?” Alex asked, eyes wide.

Erin nodded. “Best fucking concert of my life. And that’s even over Alice Cooper!’

Alex chuckled. “Somehow, I don’t think that would be hard.” She smiled at Erin’s glare. “No, but seriously, I can really see why she would make you react that way emotionally. Hell, I listened to that song for maybe a minute and a half and I was already affected.” She looked long and hard at Erin. “See? This is who you really are, Erin. The side that I like; the violinist.”

“Well, now,” Erin said a finger waggling in the air, “I can’t very well drag my violin with me everyone now, can I?”

Alex laughed. “No, but you can drag around that sensitive side.”

Erin was quiet for a long moment, pulling up to a red traffic light, flicking on her turn signal. A turn to the left would put them in the mall’s parking lot. “It’s not that easy, Alex.”

Alex nodded but said nothing.

Erin pulled into a space outside of Border’s Bookstore, figuring they could walk through there to get to the main part of the mall, as the Holiday Shoppe wasn’t far from the bookstore. The two walked in silence to the store, moving around a group of laughing, obnoxious teens who refused to give way to anybody.

Erin growled and Alex laughed. “Why are you growling? You’re not all that far off from their age.”

Erin glared at Alex as they stepped into the holiday store, all decked out for Halloween. “I am not that obnoxious.”

“Hmm,” Alex scoffed, making a show of walking ahead of Erin into the store.

Erin rolled her eyes but followed.

The store was a large one, leaning towards whatever holiday was around the corner, thus its title of Holiday Shoppe. The great thing about the store was, no matter how close it was to any given holiday, they never ran out of anything. For instance, Halloween was a week away, and most stores were nearly sold out of costumes, makeup and certainly fake blood. Not the Holiday Shoppe: fresh loads of everything came in round the clock until the mall closed, the day of the holiday or the day before.

Erin trailed behind Alex, hands clasped behind her back as she checked out the three full walls of makeup kits and individual containers of certain colors or techniques. An entire wall was dedicated to various types of fake blood: gel, liquid, powdered and flavored, just to mention a few. She broke away from Alex to check out that wall, awed by the array of selection.

“Are you planning on being something gruesome or dead?” Alex asked, coming up behind Erin and looking at the wall over her shoulder.

Erin grinned and glanced back over at her… “Are we friends?” she asked. When she saw Alex’s baffled expression, she expounded upon the strange non-sequitur. “You know, are we friends or am I just the friend of your boyfriend?”

Alex blinked a few times then responded. “Well, I guess we’re friends. Acquaintances at the very least.”

Erin turned to face her, her grin still in place. “Do you do your most hallowed Halloween costume shopping with mere acquaintances?” she asked with a raised brow. “And besides that, do you dissect acquaintance’s psyches at Starbucks?”

Alex buried her face in her hands for a moment with a groan. “I said I was sorry about that.”

Erin crossed her arms over her chest, a smirk on her face. “I’m just curious to see how many times I can make you apologize in one day.”

Alex rolled her eyes, exasperated. “Don’t you stop?”

Erin shook her head slowly from side to side. “Nope.”

“Fine. If you’re going to be a pain in the ass, at least be a useful one.” She grabbed Erin’s hand, forcing her arms to unfold and drug her to another part of the store. “Pick one.”

Erin looked at the wall of packaged costumes that she’d been drug to. She scanned the wall, noting the devils, headless horseman, plethora of various nun costumes and of course, the Grim Reaper. But, what caught her eye was a cute little nurse’s costume that didn’t feature body-hiding scrubs, but rather a short little white dress and neckline that plunged far enough to make any patient smile. A white nurses cap was included as well as a plastic thermometer and stethoscope.

Erin grinned as she walked to the packaged outfit. “Helllooooo, nurse!”

Alex joined her. “How did I know you’d pick the sluttiest costume they had?”

“Hey, I could have picked out the French maid costume,” Erin defended, handing Alex the package. “And, this way you can keep with your medical theme.”

“Oh, goodie,” Alex grumbled, flipping the package over to look at the individual pictures of each part of the costume, her eye ever returning to the low neckline.

“Come on, live a little. I promise I’ll only oggle you fifty times during the party.”

Alex threw her head back and laughed. “Fine. It’s a deal.” She handed the package back to Erin. “If you want to see me in it, you can pay for it.” And with that, she walked away, leaving a stunned Erin behind.

Erin jogged to catch up with Alex, who was walking up to the front of the store with quick purpose. She paid for the costume and accepted the clear plastic bag then joined Alex out in the wide hallway. When she reached her, she saw that Alex was on her cell phone, so stood obediently close, but gave Alex a bit of breathing and speaking room.

“Well, I’m sorry Lance. You weren’t home, so I met up with Erin and we’re at the mall… Yes, your Erin. What other Erin do I know?” Alex ran a hand through her hair, her irritation clear to anyone who passed by. She walked over to the railing that would look down over the food court on the lower level. “Lance, this isn’t a big deal, certainly not the big deal you’re making it out to be…. We’re here buying costumes for the party.”

Erin, who was already leaning against the railing, glanced over to see if her friend was okay. She knew that Lance could be a real shit, and figured he was in one of his moods. Seemed he was in one of his moods a lot, lately. Alex met her gaze and rolled her eyes with an apologetic shrug.

“What time do you want me back at your place? Are you even there, yet?” Alex looked stunned. “Lance, you’re not even home yet, yet you’re pissed that I’m not there? What do you want me to do: sit on the front porch like a good little girl and wait for daddy to come home?”

Erin covered her mouth to hide her laughter at that. Alex grinned at her before returning her focus back to the conversation.

“I don’t know. We may grab a bite to eat or something…. Look Lance, I think you’re in a pissy mood tonight, and that’s fine. I’m just going to head home after we’re done here, okay?” Alex held the phone out from her ear, Lance’s voice easily heard yelling on the other end.

Angry, Erin snatched the phone away from Alex and brought it to her own ear. “Hey asshole, this is Erin. What the fuck is the matter with you?”

“Erin? What the fuck are you doing? Put my goddamn girlfriend back on the phone!” Lance demanded.

“Dude, you’re being a real douchebag right now. There is no way in hell I’m putting Alex back on this phone to take this shit from you. You need to calm down and regroup.”

“Who are you to give me relationship advice, Alex?” Lance asked angrily. “When’s the last time you made one last?”

“Been awhile, but I guarantee you I never treated her like you’re treating Alex right now. She was sitting at the Starbucks on 5th Street waiting for your ass to show up at home. I bumped into her, so we decided to be productive and get shit for the party. Is that okay with you, He-Man?”

Lance sighed, knowing full well he was being an asshole. “Alright. Put Alex back on the phone.”

“Are you going to play nice?” Erin asked, meeting Alex’s questioning gaze.

“Yes, I’ll play nice.”

“Good boy.” Erin handed the phone back to Alex. “He promises to be nice.”

Alex was amused, and grateful as she took the phone back from Erin and pressed it to her ear. “Hey. Are you feeling better?”

Erin took a few steps away, watching a group of high school boys head into the Holiday Shoppe. She was glad to help out, as she knew Lance and his shit well, but at the same time, it made her heart hurt. She’d only ever had one serious girlfriend, and ironically, she’d cheated on Erin and had left her bereft and heartbroken. Now, as she listened to the quiet conversation between Alex and her boyfriend on the other end of the line, she felt wistful. A glance over her shoulder showed her Alex’s back, as Alex had turned, looking out over the diners in the food court. She watched as slim fingers stroked the smooth metal surface of the railing and as one booted foot crossed first over one then the other crossed back.

With a heavy sigh, Erin looked away.

“God, he can be such an asshole sometimes,” Alex sighed, walking back over to Erin, her phone tucked securely back in her pocket. She was clueless as to the chaotic thoughts and emotions that had just been surging through Erin. “Ready?”

Erin nodded, shifting the bag Alex’s costume was in to her other hand. “Yeah, Lance can be difficult, I know. I love the guy, but…”

“You know, I don’t expect you to play bellboy, too.”

Confused, Erin followed Alex’s gaze down to the bag she held. She grinned, tossing out her previous thoughts of relationships and women. It wasn’t worth the brain fuel to burn. “Nah, I got it. If I’m gonna be slave to a beautiful woman, I may as well go all out.” Where she had expected Alex to roll her eyes and make some sort of snide comment, instead she got a sweet smile, which she couldn’t help but return.

Twenty minutes later, the two sat at a table for four in front of Burger King in the food court. Each had her own dinner, neither from Burger King. Erin was busy adding sauce to her beef ‘n cheddar from Arby’s while Alex added soy sauce to her beef fried rice and opened the sweet and sour sauce for her egg rolls.

“You mentioned at Starbucks that you’ve got a little stress going with Lance,” Erin began, not sure why she was even bringing it up. “What’s up?” She dipped a curly fry in the special sauce and tossed it into her mouth. “Everything okay?”

Alex shrugged a shoulder, dipping an egg roll into the little plastic container of sweet and sour. She crunched into it and chewed thoughtfully. “Yes and no.” She met Erin’s gaze for a long moment. “I’ll trust you, Erin. I know you and Lance are good friends, but I’ll trust you.”

“Scouts honor, nothing leaves this table,” Erin promised, holding up two fingers pressed together.

Alex sipped from her Coke to swallow down her food. “Well,” she sighed, unwrapping her plastic fork from the sealed bag it was in and pushed her rice around with the soy sauce. “I don’t know what’s been going on with him, but he’s gotten really… what’s the word? Possessive, I guess. He wasn’t like that.” Her brows knitted together in frustration. “I don’t get it.”

“Well,” Erin said, finishing the bite of her sandwich that was in her mouth, then drinking it down with some Dr Pepper. “The fact that he didn’t even introduce you to Shawn tells me that he really, really likes you. Dare I say it? I think Lance loves you, Alex.” She shook her head. “I’ve never seen that before. I’m not sure it’s happened before.”

Alex studied Erin for a long moment. “So, are you saying that he doesn’t know how to behave like a human being just because he may love me?”

Erin shrugged, knowing it sounded stupid. “I think he’s figuring all this out as he goes, and he’s afraid he’ll lose you in the process.”

“That, Erin, he is doing a pretty damn good job of. I’m telling you,” she said, pointing her fork at Erin for emphasis, “if he doesn’t get hold of this ridiculous possessive jealousy of anything and everything, I’m gonna blow, and it won’t be pretty when it happens.”

“Do you want me to talk to him?” Erin asked. “Kick him around a bit, maybe?”

Alex smiled down at her food and shook her head. “No. This isn’t your dragon to slay.” She sat back in her chair with a heavy sigh. “I’ll have to find a way to deal with it, but I’ll tell you this: I refuse to move in with him until we get all this figured out.”

“Have you ever lived with anyone before?” Erin asked, for some reason wanting to get off the subject of Alex and Lance.

“Once, briefly,” Alex said around a spoonful of beef fried rice. “We were in college, and it lasted all of about three months.” She grinned, swallowing her food down. “I wasn’t very nice back then.”

“What do you mean?” Erin asked, just before taking a huge bite of her sandwich and chewing ruthlessly.

Alex shrugged. sipping from her Coke. “He came home one day and found all my stuff gone. I skipped classes that day to move out.”

“Why? Was he a dick?”

“No, not really. I just wasn’t happy and had made a huge mistake by moving in.”

“Did you ever talk to him about it?”

Alex shook her head. “Nope. Thus the ‘not a very nice person’ part. I was a complete coward; never saw him again.” She dipped her egg roll into Erin’s little container of Arby’s special sauce, grinning at Erin’s swatting hand. “What about you?”

Erin shook her head. “Nope. I’ve never even gotten to that point where I’d want to live with someone. It’s bad enough living with Shawn.”

Alex studied her for a long moment, her head cocked slightly and green eyes focused on Erin’s. “I think you’d be fun to live with.”

Erin just looked at her dumbly, mouth even hanging open.

Alex laughed, reaching across the table and using two fingers to push up on Erin’s chin. “You’re a fun person, I think it would be a hoot.”

“What, do you think I’m a party girl every night in my bedrooms? I hold slumber parties and juggle and entertain, telling dirty jokes and hold burping contests?” Erin asked, amused.

“Sure, why not.”

Erin chuckled, popping the last of her sandwich into her mouth. “You’d be truly surprised at just how boring I am at home. I walk around either naked or in a ratty old pair of running shorts and tank top most the time, and I either sit and contemplate life, read books or compose music.”

“I still think you’d be fun,” Alex pursued, finishing up her own meal.

“What about you? What are you like at home? Do you dress from chin to toe, covering any and every part of you, just in case the neighbors might be watching?” Erin asked, chin raised in challenge.

Alex laughed out loud at the image that brought. “No, I do not, thank you very much. God, I’m not a friggin’ nun, Erin!”

Erin grinned, her gaze falling to Alex’s full breasts, hidden behind the sweater she wore. “No you’re not, thank you Jesus.”

*****

Erin sat at her keyboard dressed in ratty old running shorts and a sweatshirt, the house too cold for a tank top tonight. She jotted a few notes down on the pages tilted up on her music stand, then returned her attention back to the keys, pencil cradled between her teeth. She was interrupted by a light tapping on her closed bedroom door.

“Come in,” she shouted around the pencil.

The door opened and Shawn stepped inside, two mugs of coffee in his hands. “It’s colder than a witch’s tit out there, so figured you’d want this.”

Erin removed the pencil from between her teeth and moaned in grateful pleasure as she accepted the mug. “Thank you.”

Shawn plopped down in the easy chair. “I even put a shot of Bailey’s in there.”

“Yummmm,” Erin purred, first blowing on then sipping her coffee. “Damn, this really hits the spot, thanks Shawn.”

“Not a problem.” He picked at the arm of the chair, not looking at her. “I have to admit, I do have a slightly ulterior motive for plying you with spiked coffee.”

Erin chuckled, turning on the bench to face her brother’s profile. “What do you want? Tell me you’re not wanting me to work a double again tomorrow so you can go off prancing with Lisa?”

Shawn grinned, still not looking at his sister. “No.” He met her gaze. “I want info.” He paused, chewing on his lower lip and stroking the goatee he’d begun to let grow. “Alex.”

Erin rolled her eyes and slammed her fist on the bench she sat on. “Damn it, Shawn! I’ve been good! I’ve behaved-”

“Alex and Lance, dumbass. Not Alex and you.”

Erin gave him a sheepish look then looked away, sipping her coffee. “Sorry.”

“Have you noticed anything between the two of them? Like, not good stuff between them.”

“Why?” she asked, wanting to hear Shawn’s side before she filled him in on what happened at the mall three days before.

“I was over there the other day, and so was Alex, and man, Lance was in the pissiest mood I think I’ve ever seen him in-”

“Do you think he loves her?” Erin interrupted.

“Yeah, I do. I think he’s struggling with it. I think he’s doing something stupid, like treating her like shit to test to see if she’ll run away, just like his mom did from his dad.”

“I’ve seen it, too. She talked to me a bit about it,” Erin confided, pushing up from the bench of her keyboard and flopping down on the couch across from Shawn.

“She did?”

“Yep. We went costume shopping at the mall the other day, and he called mad as hell. He was yelling at her through the phone, so I took the phone away from her and tore him a new asshole.”

Shawn sighed heavily, his heavy brows drawn into a troubled expression. “I just know he’s gonna blow this, Erin.”

Erin hurried across the joined, snow-covered lawns and trotted up to the front door of Lance’s new house. She banged on the heavy wood of the door with a gloved hand, hoping Lance would open up soon. She knew that he was home from his truck parked in the driveway, and it was cold as hell as a winter storm blew in.

“Hey,” he said, pulling open the door. “Come on in before your tits freeze off.”

Erin hurried inside, groaning as the heat in the house hit her full force. Unlike most men, Lance loved to keep his place hot. She followed Lance into the kitchen where he was heating himself up a TV dinner in the microwave.

“Hungry?” he asked.

“No, thanks. Look Lance, I need to talk to you about something.”

“Shoot,” he said, opening the door to the small, beeping appliance. He cursed when the hot steam swirled out from under the flimsy cardboard cover over the tray of his dinner and burned his fingers. “Fuckers hot.”

“That’s usually why the instruction suggest leaving the tray to stand for a couple minutes,” Erin offered dryly.

Lance grinned. “Yeah, well I’m hungry after a long day at work. Sit down kid, take a load off.” He grabbed himself a bottle of beer and one for Erin out of the fridge, setting chilled brown glass before her.

Erin popped the cap off the beer, but didn’t bother drinking, instead playing with the cold bottle in even colder fingers. “I want to know something,” she began.

Lance carried his tray of food to the table, dropping it onto the wood surface with another curse. He sat and carefully pulled back the cardboard cover, using a fork to mix the lump of mashed potatoes with the gravy, then cut into the Salisbury steak. “‘K,” he said stabbing a piece of meat and shoving it into his mouth.

Taking a sip of the cold beer for courage, I looked him dead in the eye. “Why are you fucking up the best thing that’s ever happened to you?”

Lance stopped chewing for a minute, stunned brown eyes meeting my own. “What?” He quickly swallowed down his food with a swig of beer. “What?”

“Alex. Shawn and I have both noticed it. You’re pushing her away, Lance.”

Lance sat back in his chair, wanting to be angry with Erin, but knowing he had no right. He sighed, returning his attention back to his dinner, mixing the corn with the mashed potatoes and gravy. “I feel like she’s slipping away from me, Erin,” he muttered, shoveling a large forkful into his mouth and chewing thoughtfully.

Erin waited, wanting to hear his side of it.

“I feel like, like,” he let out a loud breath and sipped his beer. “I feel like she could leave at any moment, like what we have is tenuous, you know?” He stabbed another piece of meat angrily. “I feel like she’s not really mine, like we’re balancing on the edge of something, and at any second one of us will fall over, and it won’t be together.”

Erin was stunned to hear the quiet words come out of Lance’s mouth. “So, you’re trying to hold onto her.”

Lance didn’t respond for a long moment and then finally he nodded. “I don’t wanna lose her.”

“Have you talked to her about any of this?”

Lance shook his head. “Nah. She’d probably think I was some queer Dr. Phil-lovin’ guy or something.”

Erin rolled her eyes. “God men are so stupid and insecure,” she muttered, then returned her gaze to him. “If you don’t talk to her, you’re going to lose her: plain and simple.” Erin took a long swallow of the beer, her gaze never leaving Lance.

“Ah hell,” he growled, slamming a fist into the table. “I hate this touchy feely shit!”

Erin grinned. “Welcome to the wide world of women, Lance. It’s a bitch.”

Part 2
Later that night, Erin again sat her keyboard, trying to iron out the kinks in the composition she’d been working on off and on for a month. It wasn’t coming together, and it was royally pissing her off. She tucked the ever-present pencil behind and ear and let her fingers fly across the keys, testing out what she’d written tonight. Easily hearing an issue, she snagged the pencil and quickly flipped it around in nimble fingers, erasing a couple notes and then flipping the pencil around again to scribble new ones in their place.

Fingers back on the keys, Erin was just about to play the piece again when she heard something outside. Stretching her neck to see out the window, she couldn’t see anything beyond her own car parked out front and the tail end of Lance’s truck parked in his driveway.

Curious, Erin pushed away from the instrument and walked over to the window near her bed, which was on the side of the house that faced Lance’s house. Looking down, she was able to see two figures standing on the front porch of his house, and it appeared that they were yelling at each other.

“Shit.”

Grabbing her jacket, Erin shrugged into it as she pounded down the stairs and to the front door, a blast of cold, snowy air hitting her in the face as she pulled it open and stepped out onto the front porch.

“Who the fuck are you trying to impress, huh?” Lance yelled, slamming a fist into the railing of the porch. “You wanna dress like a slut?!”

“That’s not what I’m doing, Lance and you know it!” Alex fired back.

“You’re not wearing that tomorrow night, and that’s final!”

“You don’t own me, Lance. When are you going to get that through that thick skull of yours, huh?”

Lance shoved Alex, which was Erin’s cue. “Hey!” she raged, vaulting the railing of the porch and running across the connected yards as quickly as six inches of snow would allow. “What the hell do you think you’re doing, man?” she demanded.

Lance glared at her. “Stay out of this, Erin!”

“Not when you’re shoving her.” Erin flew up the stairs and in between the two, pushing in front of Alex in a protective stance. “What are you doing?” she asked again, voice low and dangerous. Erin could see the confused rage on Lance’s face and wondered if even he knew what he was doing.

With a growl of frustration, Lance stormed into the house, slamming the front door in his wake.

Erin was shaken by the incident and turned to face an equally shaken Alex. “Are you okay?” Alex, tugged her trench coat tighter around her trembling body, giving Erin a weak nod of her head. Erin pulled Alex into a hug, cradling her blonde head against her shoulder. “Come on,” she said softly, pulling out of the hug and taking Alex’s trembling hand in her own. “Let’s get you warmed up.”

Erin held the door to her bedroom open for Alex to pass through, then closed it with a soft click. She watched as the other woman walked into the room, still hugging her jacket around herself.

“Can I get you anything? Water? Coffee? Anything?”

Alex shook her head as she turned to face Erin. “No, thank you.” She studied Erin for a moment, a slow smile spreading across her lips. “Do you often run around in boxers, untied tennis shoes and a winter coat?”

Erin looked down at herself and grinned. “Only when I’m saving damsels in distress.”

Alex nodded, taking a deep breath and looking around the room. She noticed the scooted out bench in front of the large keyboard, as well as the pencil that was set in front of sheet music.

“Are you going to tell me what happened, Alex?” Erin asked softly, walking further into the room and shrugging out of her jacket then kicking off the snow-encrusted shoes.

Alex sighed and opened her jacket, revealing her scantily-clad body, dressed in the nurse’s Halloween costume.

Erin’s eyes nearly bulged out of her eye sockets at the sight before she managed to roll her tongue back up into her mouth and gain of bit of consideration. She knew Alex had an incredible body, but seeing her muscular legs in that short dress, and the way her cleavage filled the bust made her mouth water. “I see. He wasn’t thrilled?” she managed, her voice almost normal.

“No. He accused me of trying to seduce the other people at the party,” she explained, her voice sounding tired and resigned.

“You mean the party that hasn’t even happened yet?” Erin clarified sarcastically, flopping down in the easy chair.

“The one that I’m not entirely certain we’ll be having. Or at least, that I’ll be attending.”

Erin felt like absolute crap. She sat forward, bare feet on the floor and knees spread with an elbow resting on each. She stared down between her dangling hands and let out a heavy sigh. “God, I’m so sorry, Alex,” she whispered. “It’s all my fault for picking out that costume.” She finally got the courage to look up and meet Alex’s gaze as the blonde knelt down in front of her. “I’m so sorry.”

Alex took Erin in a comforting hug, brushing her fingers through Erin’s thick hair. “It’s not your fault,” she said softly. “I’m a big girl and could have said no. Besides,” she sighed, “Lance completely overreacted, and that’s nobody’s fault but his own.” She pulled back so she could look into sad blue eyes. “Okay? Please don’t take this on yourself.”

Erin nodded, knowing Alex was right, but still feeling terrible. ‘Yeah.”

“Maybe it’s for the best, I don’t know.” Alex gave Erin’s hand a final squeeze then pushed to her feet and walked the short distance to the couch where she plopped down with a heavy sigh. “Better to know these things now than before I do something stupid like move in.”

Erin studied Alex for a long moment, seeing the anger and hurt burning in those green eyes. “What are you going to do?”

Alex shook her head. “Not a clue. Leave him, I suppose. Nobody is going to treat me that way and expect me to stick around.”

The conversation was interrupted by the sound of a car door slamming and then the loud rumble of Lance’s truck engine roaring to life. A moment later tires squealed away from the curb and the truck roared off into the night.

Alex sighed then focused on Erin. “What were you doing before you had to come rescue me?”

“I was working on my new piece,” Erin said, nodding towards the keyboard. “And no, you can’t hear it because it’s not done yet.”

Alex pouted for a moment, but when she saw Erin wasn’t going to budge she flopped her hands down dramatically on the couch on either side of her. “Fine.”

Erin grinned.

“So, what should we do?” Alex asked, getting to her feet and walking restlessly to the window to look out at the winter wonderland beyond. She suddenly turned to look at Erin, who’s neck was stretched to look over at her. “What was that game you said you play every Halloween?”

“Pumpkin Pick?” Erin asked, scooting to the edge of her chair so she could look over at Alex easier.

“Yeah, that’s it.” Alex walked back over to the couch, Erin following her every move. “Let’s play Pumpkin Pick.”

Erin raised a brow but pushed up from the chair. “Okay, you asked for it.” She walked to the closed bedroom door. “Be right back.”

Left alone, Alex walked over to the keyboard, glancing at the sheet music there, no clue as to what it said, then ran her fingers lightly across the keys before making her way back over to the window. She sighed as she looked out, burying her hands in the deep pockets of her coat. She couldn’t see her car from that angle, but knew it was down there, parked along the curb in front of Lance’s house. For a moment she considered running down to it and grabbing the backpack out of the back seat that held a pair of scrubs. She felt horribly underdressed and silly in the nurse’s costume.

“Back,” Erin announced, closing her bedroom door behind her.

Alex turned around, surprised to see what Erin was holding up in both hands, like a proud hunter bringing back her quarry. Held by the neck was a full bottle of tequila in her right hand and a full bottle of cherry vodka in her left.

Erin set the bottles down on the small coffee table that sat between the couch and easy chair, then went to the small fridge and pulled out lime slices that were in sealed in a zip-loc baggie, along with two shot glasses that sat atop the fridge. She set those down on the coffee table, then went back to the fridge to grab a glass and chrome container of salt, adding it to the collection.

“Um, Erin?” Alex asked, walking back over to the couch.

“Yes Alex?”Erin asked, making her way to the bedroom portion of the space and grabbing a plastic jack-o-lantern, such as is used for trick-or-treating. She set it on the table next to everything else.

“Pumpkin Pick?” Alex asked, sitting.

“Pumpkin Pick,” Erin confirmed. She chuckled. “Take your coat off, stay awhile.”

“No, I think I’ll leave it on, thank you. I’m a wee under dressed at the moment.”

Erin chuckled. “Okay, here’s how the game is played. In that pumpkin are little folded pieces of paper that have some sort of directive written on them. I have to warn you,” she said, holding up a finger for emphasis, “some are pretty naughty. I generally play this with close friends and/or girlfriends. But, for our purposes here, if you come across one that makes you uncomfortable, just set it aside and pick a new one, ‘k?”

Alex nodded. “Okay.” She was nervous, but was willing to play along.

“Do you want to start or do you want me to?” Erin asked. She was just as nervous, but also curious to see how Alex would react to the game she and an ex-girlfriend had devised a few years before. She grinned at Alex, who tugged her coat just a bit tighter around her. “Do you want to borrow something to wear, Alex?”

Alex contemplated the offer for a moment, but then shook her head. “No, I’m okay. And, you start.”

“Alright.” Erin grabbed the orange pale and looked away as she reached in, stirring the pot of folded papers around a few times before she finally latched onto one. Setting the pumpkin back down on the table, she sat back in the chair and unfolded the paper. An easy grin spread over her face. “Take a shot, Alex,” she ordered, tossing the little paper onto the table.

Disbelieving, Alex snatched the paper up: Ask a member of the group to take a shot. Sighing, she tossed the paper back down and glanced over at the two bottle of strong alcohol. “I’ll take the cherry vodka. I had no idea they even made flavored vodka.”

“Oh yes,” Erin said, unscrewing the cap and pouring the clear liquid into one of the shot glasses. “They make it in grape, vanilla, apple, raspberry-”

“Okay, okay, I got it,” Alex laughed, accepting the glass in nervous fingers. She studied the clear liquid for a moment, able to smell the cherry scented fire. “Bottoms up,” she murmured, then threw back the shot, grimacing at the strong taste that even cherry flavoring couldn’t hide.

“Yeah!” Erin clapped. “Nice one.” She scooted the pumpkin over to Alex. “Your turn. And remember, if it’s something you don’t think you can or want to do, pick again.”

Alex nodded, a shiver passing through her as the strong alcohol did. She reached into the sea of tiny folded papers and drew one out, unfolding it and reading its contents allowed. “Ask a member of the group to stand up and sing the National Anthem.” She grinned over at Erin. “Sing for me, Seymour!”

Erin sighed, always hating that one. “Okay.” She got to her feet and cleared her throat. “You know what, I’ll do one better.” She hurried over to the wall and grabbed her violin and bow, quickly fiddling a version of the song that had Alex laughing and clapping. After it was over, Erin bowed dramatically then put the instrument away. She sat down and picked a paper. “Aw, damn,” she sighed. “Forgot there’s a lot of these in here.”

Erin tossed the paper to the table then poured herself a shot of tequila in the other shot glass. She raised it in salute then tossed it back, shaking her head with a loud cry of victory as it slid down into her belly.

Alex laughed, whooping at the action. She was already beginning to feel relaxed from her own shot taken moments before. “My turn.” She reached into the bucket and drew out a paper. “Okay. Oh! She looked over at Erin with a wicked grin. “Tell me a deep, dark secret.”

“Do you want a serious one or a fun one?” Erin asked, flopping an arm lazily over the back of the chair.

Alex chewed on her bottom lip for a moment as she contemplated her choices. “Well, I’m always after you to be serious, so give me a serious one.”

“Okay. My father raped me when I was 6 years old, and now he’s in prison,” Erin answered easily.

Alex couldn’t speak, instant tears springing to her eyes. “Are you serious?” she whispered.

“As a heart attack.” Erin leaned forward, reaching across the distance to take one of Alex’s hands in her own. “Hey, it’s okay. It happened a long time ago.” She gave her an encouraging smile. “I’m okay.”

Alex nodded, but still couldn’t take her eyes off Erin, slowly shaking her head in disbelief. “Wow.” She gave Erin’s hand a squeeze then carefully slid hers out from its grasp. “Guess I should be careful what I ask for, huh?”

Erin smiled but said nothing. She didn’t want things to get heavy, so she quickly chose from the orange bucket. She groaned at the paper she got, eyeing Alex for a moment as she tried to decide what to do. She knew she could toss it aside and choose again, but damn, she didn’t want to.

Able to read the dilemma on Erin’s face, Alex felt nervous fingers tickle her spine. “What?”

Deciding what the hell, Erin lowered herself to her hands and knees and slowly crawled over to Alex. “I’ve been instructed to take a shot,” she explained.

“And what does that have to do with me?” Alex asked, sitting up a bit as Erin settled herself in front of, and slightly between Alex’s knees.

“Well, it would seem I have to do a body shot,” Erin explained. She reached behind her to grab the bottle of tequila, her shot glass, the bag of lime wedges and the salt.

Alex had heard of body shots but had never done one, and wasn’t entirely sure what it entailed. “Okay. Again I ask, what does that have to do with me?”

Erin met her gaze. “You’re the body.” She laughed when she saw Alex’s audible swallow. “Relax. I promise it won’t hurt.”

Erin lifted herself to her knees and reached for the edges of Alex’s coat. She stopped when Alex flinched and met Alex’s nervous gaze, trying to convey to her with her own that everything would be fine. After a long moment, Alex relaxed enough to where Erin felt she could pushed Alex’s jacket off her shoulders without Alex either freaking out or Erin getting smacked.

“Have you ever taken a tequila shot before?” Erin asked softly. At Alex’s nod, Erin began to explain, even as she gently pushed the jacket off Alex’s shoulders, though she didn’t make her take the jacket completely off, nor did Alex make a move to. “What’s going to happen is this: I pick a part of your exposed skin to lick and pour the salt on, just as you’d lick your wrist with salt on it before you drink a normal shot. You, my dear get to hold the shot glass.”

“Okay.” Alex brought up a hand, expecting Erin to hand it to her.

Erin grinned and slowly shook her head. “Not there.” Her gaze fell to Alex’s abundant cleavage.

Alex’s eyes popped open wide in shock.
“Thus ‘body’ shot. Then, you’ll have two choices for the lime wedge,” Erin continued. “You can either hold the wedge fruit-side out between your teeth, or you can squirt the juice into your mouth and I, well,” she shrugged with a shit-eating grin, “I suck it from your mouth. Your choice.”

Alex was surprised when she felt a sharp wave of heat hit her lower belly, along with billions of little nervous butterflies batting at her rib cage. “Um, I think I’ll hold the lime wedge between my teeth.”

Erin figured that’s what she’d choose, but still couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. “Alright,” she said, filling the shot glass with tequila. She held it up for Alex to take. “I’ll let you do the honors.” She sensed that too much teasing would not be good.

Alex took the glass and tucked it into the ample cleave that the costume created, her cheeks flushing at the cool smoothness that was trapped within her flesh. “I cannot believe I’m letting you do this,” she grumbled.

Erin chuckled. “It’s all in fun, Alex.”

Erin removed one of the lime wedges from the baggie and handed it to Alex, who took it and held it in her hand, not wanting to chance tasting the sour flavor before it was time. Next, Erin grabbed the salt shaker and wiggled it in front of Alex.

“Um,” Alex whispered, fear clenching her gut. “Where are you going to put that?”

Erin raised up higher on her knees, placing a hand on one of Alex’s knees and gently nudging her leg out, the other following suit. Erin moved completely between Alex’s legs until she was flush with the front of the couch. She met Alex’s nervous gaze, her own kind and understanding and losing the fire that she felt deep in her belly.

“It’s okay, Alex,” she said softly. “It’s just a fun game, that’s all.”

Alex nodded and let out a breath.

Erin placed her hands on the couch on either side of Alex’s hips for balance then leaned up toward Alex’s neck. Alex’s head instinctually leaned a bit to the side. Erin got in close, closing her eyes as she quietly inhaled Alex’s scent, able to smell the faint whispers of perfume put on that morning, as well as Alex’s own natural fragrance. She opened her mouth and ran her tongue up the side of Alex’s neck, just above the juncture of where shoulder and neck meet. She quickly sprinkled salt onto the moistened area, then brought her mouth back to the salty flesh, taking her time to make sure she got every single granule of salt.

Alex’s eyes slid shut at the sensation, a surprising warmth running through her body. Sooner than she would want to admit, Erin was gone. Her eyes opened to see the intensity of Erin’s looking directly into her own. Alex gasped slightly when Erin’s mouth closed in around the rim of the glass that was tucked into Alex’s cleavage. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting Erin to do: perhaps grab it with her fingers.

Erin watched as Alex’s breasts heaved slightly with what she assumed were nervous breaths. As she neared the shot glass, she could definitely smell the strong liquor, but she could again also smell the light perfume and the smell of Alex. Pushing all of that out of her mind, she grasped the rim of the glass with her lips, making sure she had a firm grasp before lifting the small glass out of its fleshy hiding place and throwing her head back, careful to not throw the glass behind her with the movement.

Erin always hated this part, as the liquid fire swept at breakneck speed down her throat; the trick was always to not choke. Once the liquid was down, she grimaced at the feeling and nasty taste, hoping that Alex would be ready with the lime.

Alex watched in fascination as Erin tossed back the shot just using her mouth, and quickly brought the lime wedge up to her lips, almost putting it in fruit-side in in her haste. Managing to get it clamped between her teeth, she watched as Erin came towards her, looking for the world as though she were about to kiss Alex.

Erin cheated a bit and brought up a hand to cup around the warmth, and somewhat stickiness of Alex’s neck, holding her still as she latched onto the fruit that was held between Alex’s teeth and lips. She suckled the lime as a newborn babe suckles her mother’s breast, trying to suck every ounce of juice out of the wedge.

Once it was sucked and shriveled to the skin, she backed away from Alex, breathing heavily from the lack of air she got while sucking so close to Alex’s own mouth. She wiped excess juice, tequila and salt from her lips and chin, meeting Alex’s eyes as Alex removed the lime wedge from her teeth and tossed it to the table. She also wiped her lips and chin.

Alex saw a fire and intensity in Erin’s gaze that scared her, so she quickly looked away, still a bit shaken from the events of the past few minutes. She took several deep breaths, trying to get her body to relax and calm.

“That, Alex, is a body shot,” Erin said at length, her sudden voice like a shot popped in the stillness of the aftermath.

“So I see,” Alex chuckled nervously. She slowly tugged the jacket back up onto her shoulders, though didn’t pull it closed, as it had been before. “My turn, I suppose.”

Extremely nervous for what she’d get from the bucket, Alex reached in and stirred the pot a few times before pulling out a paper. She read it, then, with large eyes, quickly refolded it and tossed it back into the pot picking again. She did this two more times before she finally found one she was willing to do.

“Okay,” she breathed, eyeing Erin. “Paybacks.”

Erin swallowed reflexively, but nodded. “Hit me.”

Alex sat back casually against the couch cushion, even though her heart was still pounding in her chest. Eyes on Erin, she crossed one muscular leg over the other, casually swinging her foot back and forth. “You get to do a strip tease for me down to your underwear.”

Erin groaned, eyes falling shut. “Damn.” She’d tossed that one in there three years ago because the woman she’d been with at the time had actually been a stripper. “Alright.” She knew there was no way to deny the request from the paper, so she let out a heavy breath and pushed up from the chair. “Music or no music?”

Alex shrugged, a smug look on her face. “What gets your heart pumping?”

“Besides doing a body shot in your cleavage?” Erin taunted. She grinned at the deep blush that crept up Alex’s cheeks. Don’t try and play with the master of flirt, she mused to herself.

Erin walked over to her iPod and scanned the thousands of song titles she had stored in the tiny device. Grinning at her selection, she cradled the iPod in the docking station with powerful speakers and hit play. George Michael’s I Want Your Sex began to play.

Alex chuckled and shook her head. “Gee, how appropriate.”

“I thought so,” Erin purred as she allowed her body to get into the beat.

She never took her eyes off Alex as she danced with fluid sexuality to the center of the room where the couch and easy chair was, easily pushing the coffee table aside to give her room to do a show.

“You may want to re-think this, Alex,” she purred, her hips easily catching the sexy beat of the song.

“Why’s that?” Alex asked.

“Because,” Erin whispered, moving towards Alex and uncrossing her legs before lowering herself onto Alex’s lap, giving her a teasingly brief lap dance. “You’re gonna like it too much.”

Alex gave her a challenging grin and shook her head, determined to prove Erin wrong.

Erin laughed and pushed off Alex’s lap, returning to the space she’d created and really began to move. She slid her hands down the front of her body, over full breasts and down over a flat stomach until she reached the hem of her t-shirt. Eyes pinning Alex to the spot, she lifted the hem of the tee only to bring it down again, her hips moving the entire time. She would pull the shirt up a bit more, exposing the lines of a toned stomach before the shirt was down again.

Alex watched, unable to help herself as she got into the beat of the song, leaning slightly forward in her seat, curious to see what Erin would do.

Erin turned her back to Alex, treating her to a very nice ass moving to the music. She pulled the shirt completely off, though kept her back to Alex, giving her a sexy glance over her shoulder. Turning back around to face the blonde, she kept her shirt in front of her breasts, shooting Alex a coy look, which made Alex laugh. She had to admit, she was enjoying the show!

Erin mouthed the words of the song, I want your sex… I want your love… as she tossed the shirt aside, raising her arms over her head as her entire body became a moving, living, breathing orgasmic vision. She slithered over to Alex, once again lowering herself to Alex’s lap, though never fully put her body weight on her.

Alex was a little taken aback as suddenly Erin’s bra-clad breasts were very much in her face, and she had to admit, they were beautiful. Her hands were taken in Erin’s and placed on Erin’s writhing hips.

Erin leaned forward, singing the lyrics into Alex’s ear. “Sexy baby, sexy body, keeps me guessing…”

Alex’s heart was racing. She forced her gaze away from the plentiful cleavage up to Erin’s face. Her tongue poked out as she swiped it across her lower lip, admittedly feeling the heat from Erin’s body and her extremely sensual dance.

Erin could feel her sex throbbing at the close proximity, especially when she was half-naked. She moved away from Alex again and finished her provocative dance with a flourish as the song came to an end.

Alex cat whistled and clapped, trying desperately to ignore her body’s reaction to what she’d just witnessed and been made part of. “You’re not finished, though,” she chastised, indicated the boxers Erin wore.

Erin raised a brow. “Baby, these are my undies,” she purred, using a thumb to tug down on the red and black checkered material at her hip, pulling them down just far enough to reveal everything just above the line of her carefully trimmed pubic hair. “I wasn’t exactly expecting company tonight.”

Blushing deeply, Alex nodded and looked away. “Okay. Well um, that was fun.”

“It was, wasn’t it?” Erin grinned, grabbing her t-shirt and putting it back on as she walked over to her iPod and turning it and the docking station off. She grabbed the half-full bottle of water from the table near her keyboard that she’d been drinking earlier, and downed it before returning to her chair. She grabbed the plastic pumpkin and plucked a paper out of it. “Let’s see if I can get one that’s a little less physically tiring,” she teased. She read the paper and smirked. “Forgot about that one.” She had a winner on the second one. “Ah, here we go.” Placing the pumpkin back on the table that she’d pulled back into place, Erin swung a leg over the arm of the chair and looked over at Alex. “Give me your biggest dream in life.”

Relieved at the simplicity of the request, Alex gave it real thought. “In truth, I want what probably most people want: I want a nice house with someone I love to share it with. I want the dog, car payments, all of it.”

Erin smiled, tossing the paper to the table top. “That’s a nice dream, Alex.”

“What about you? What do you want for your future, Erin?”

“Is this your turn?” Erin asked, brow raised.

“No, it’s my curiosity.”

Erin chuckled. “Alright, I’ll answer. In truth, I want the same things, though I have no clue of the details. All I know is I want to settle down with someone – eventually,” she emphasized, “and be happy.”

Alex let out a wistful sigh and reached for the pumpkin. She drew out a paper and read it, rolling her eyes. “How many of these are there?” she asked, tossing the paper across the table.

Erin read it and chuckled. “What, to take a shot? Several. This is, after all, a drinking game.”

“I see.” Alex slid off the couch and to her knees on the floor next to the table. She looked at both bottles of alcohol, trying to decide which to choose.

“Oh, and a little rule I forgot to tell you: from here on out they have to be body shots.”

Alex’s head whipped up, eyes wide in surprise. She narrowed them and growled at the teasing grin she saw on Erin’s face. “You think so, huh?”

Though Erin had been totally teasing, and she knew Alex knew that, she wanted to see what Alex would do.

“I am determined to beat you at your own game, you know,” Alex purred, grabbing the bottle of Tequila, shot glass and bag of lime wedges before she crawled over to the chair where Erin sat. Setting her goods on the floor at Erin’s feet, she reached over and grabbed the salt shaker as well.

“What game is that?” Erin asked, her heart skipping a beat as she looked into the determined fire within Alex’s eyes.

“Your game to shock me, knock me off balance and who knows what else,” Alex said as she grabbed Erin’s leg that hung over the arm of the chair, forcing Erin to sit with both feet on the floor.

Erin met her gaze, a smug smile on her face as, though Alex was surprising her for sure, she wasn’t about to call Check Mate quite yet. She would let Alex do all the work to set up her move and see how it all played out.

Seeming to sense this, Alex pushed up onto her knees and shrugged out of her jacket, tossing it back to the couch before turning back to Erin. She looked at Erin’s t-shirt then into Erin’s eyes. “I can’t very well set this up while you have your t-shirt on, now can I?”

Erin actually gulped as Alex grabbed the hem of the shirt and pulled roughly up, forcing the shirt up and over Erin’s head. She shook her hair free of the garment then returned her gaze back to Alex and what she was up to.

Alex did her level best to keep her eyes to herself rather than the full bra-clad breasts that were once again right in front of her face. She poured the tequila and, rather than handing it to Erin for placement, she sat up on her knees and leaned in to tuck the smooth glass between Erin’s breasts. Never having touched a woman’s breasts before other than her own, she was amazed at the softness of the warm flesh, even as she tried to touch them as little as possible.

Sitting back on her legs, she looked up at Erin from breasts to face, trying to figure out where it would be most torturous to put the salt. She spied a pronounced collarbone and decided she had her target. Keeping her cards to her chest, she grabbed the salt shaker as well as a lime wedge, handing the fruit to Erin silently.

Erin took it, but had her own devious plan in mind. “Thank you.”

Alex smiled sweetly then pushed up on her knees once more. One more glance into Erin’s eyes then she leaned forward, running her tongue along the soft, salty flesh of Erin’s collarbone. She heard a sharp intake above her followed by an almost imperceptible sigh of pleasure.

It took all of Erin’s strength to not cup the back of Alex’s head and beg her not to stop. Instead, she tried valiantly to keep her breathing under control and just roll with it. She knew Alex was making a point, torturing her to get back at the games Erin had been playing with her for weeks. It was certainly delicious torment.

Alex was slightly shaken as she sprinkled salt on the wet spot she’d made, realizing that she was enjoying what she was doing and could feel her body responding to Erin. She pushed the thought out of her mind as she brought her mouth back to Erin’s skin to lick up the salt. She wanted to touch Erin, to bring her hands into play somehow, in some way that she was terrified to even contemplate. Instead, she kept them locked onto the arms of Erin’s chair.

Once she had every granule of salt licked up, she sat back a bit and looked into heavily hooded blue eyes. She was thrilled at the effect she was having on Erin. With that joyous thought in mind, she lowered her mouth to Erin’s breasts, trying to focus solely on the shot glass so she wouldn’t choke or spill it.

Carefully, Alex took the glass between her lips, trying to use her tongue to steady it somewhat, then finally when she was ready, tilted her head back, swallowing as the liquid slid down her throat, nearly making her cough. She removed the glass from her mouth with her hand then pushed up on her knees to suck the lime. She stopped short when she saw Erin finish squeezing the last of the juice into her mouth, shooting a challenging gaze Alex’s way.

Refusing to back down, Alex gave Erin the sauciest look she could muster, even as her heart was about to pound out of her chest. She leaned in, looking Erin dead in the eye for a moment before her eyes slipped closed and she pressed her mouth against Erin’s. She had no choice but to essentially kiss her in order to get the lime juice.

Erin closed her eyes, her lips moving with Alex’s as Alex’s tongue dipped inside her mouth to scoop up the juice. Erin’s clit twitched when she heard the tiniest sigh escape Alex’s throat as the “drink” continued. It took all of Erin’s will power to not cup Alex’s face and deepen the kiss even more.

After a breathless moment, Alex pulled away, her breathing heavier than she’d have liked, and juice dribbling down her chin. She looked away as she wiped it off. After that, in all honesty, she wasn’t sure who had won that round, her or Erin.

Both women recuperated as Alex pushed up from the floor, gathering all the things she’d brought over to the chair and set it all back down on the table, then took her seat again, pushing her jacket aside. The alcohol was heating her up far too much to put it back on.

Erin, for her part was still shaken by what had just happened and desperately needed a drink. She grabbed her shot glass and the vodka and poured herself a shot, quickly tossing it back before letting out a heavy breath and retaking her seat. Without a word, she grabbed the pumpkin and drew from it, opening her fate.

“Alright, Alex. What is your favorite color and why?”

Alex was grateful for the very benign question. “I love the color green and it’s because I love my eyes; it makes them stand out more.”

“Good answer,” Erin muttered, tossing the paper onto the table and watching as Alex picked her own.

Alex stared at her paper for a long moment, chewing on her bottom lip and trying to decide if she had the guts to follow through. She knew the two shots she’d already taken were really beginning to take effect, as she was considering far more than she would have an hour ago. She glanced up to meet amused eyes.

“If I do this one, who gets to pick which body parts?” she asked, waving the paper in the air.

“Which one is it?”

Alex read from the paper. “‘The person to your right has to lick a shot from two different body parts of yours.'” Again she met amused eyes.

“I’ll let you choose, if you want,” Erin offered, her stomach flipping and clit clenching at that one.

“I’ll tell you what,” Alex said, tossing the paper to the table. “You pick one and I’ll pick one, but me first.”

“Okay.”

Alex crooked a finger at Erin as she grabbed the bottle of cherry vodka. She waited for Erin to kneel in front of her, waiting expectantly. Alex twisted off the cap from the bottle then poured a small amount of the alcohol in the palm of her left hand.

Erin watched then glanced up into Alex’s eyes before she gripped Alex’s hand in both of hers, holding it gently but firmly as she lowered her mouth to the liquid. She took her time as she licked the pocket of fluid, but didn’t stop once she had it all. Instead, she licked a trail up to Alex’s wrist where she let her tongue dance then glide back down to run along Alex’s middle finger, flicking the tip with her tongue before placing a soft kiss in the palm.

Again, Alex’s heart was set to pound out of her chest, and she couldn’t help but wonder if she’d made a huge mistake by, not only accepting this challenge, but also giving Erin some say in where she was going next.

Erin stood and held her hand out, taking the bottle of alcohol from Alex with the other. Confused, Alex took Erin’s hand and was pulled to her feet. “It’ll be easier this way,” Erin assured, backing up to her easy chair and sitting down. She tugged on Alex’s hand, indicating she wanted Alex to straddle her lap.

Not sure what Erin had up her sleeve, but her fuzzy mind and pulsing body was willing to go along with it. She hiked up the short, tight skirt of the costume enough to allow her to spread her legs, then lowered herself to Erin’s lap, their stomach’s pressed together. A small tremble shot uncontrollably through her body at the feeling and look in Erin’s eyes.

“Now what?” she asked.

Without a word, Erin brought her hands up and unbuttoned the white “uniform” a couple more buttons from the already-low neckline. She peeled back the parts just enough to reveal Alex’s bra-clad breasts. She looked up at Alex with intent, raising a brow. She knew she was pushing it, and wanted to give Alex the chance to stop this before it began. To her surprise and delight, Alex only let out a slightly shaky breath, but said nothing, nor pulled away.

Erin raised the bottle, twisting off the cap and filling the shot glass she’d grabbed from the table. Re-capping the bottle, she set it on the floor beside her chair, then with one more look at Alex, dumped half the contents down into Alex’s cleavage.

Alex gasped as the cold liquid rushed down between her breasts and into her bra. She saw the intent marked clearly in Erin’s eyes, and felt her own sex clench in response. “Lick it up,” she whispered, breathy.

Erin cupped the satin cups of Alex’s bra, holding the breasts up and slightly together before she brought her face down into the soft cleavage, her tongue immediately licking a trail between Alex’s breasts, her tongue registering the taste of the cherry vodka, which left Alex’s skin sticky.

Instinctually, Alex’s hands came up and cupped Erin’s head, holding her to her. Her eyes closed and her breathing increased as she felt Erin’s hot mouth and tongue on her flesh.

Erin felt the pressure on her head, and was more than willing to give more. She lapped at Alex’s skin, making sure she got every drop of the alcohol, and sent her tongue searching for more. She felt as though she were outside her body, unable to worry about offending Alex or taking things too far as her tongue lapped just inside the cup that held Alex’s right breast. She groaned when she felt the pebbled flesh of Alex’s areola, and just the barest hint of a rigid nipple.

Alex gasped, hugging Erin to her even tighter as a shockwave of sensation rushed through her body and landing squarely between her legs.

Erin was lost in her own lust as she nosed the bra aside as much as possible until her tongue could fully reach Alex’s nipple. She couldn’t get her lips around it, but she flicked it with her tongue, her thumb running over the hard nipple of Alex’s left breast through the material of the bra. She could feel the heat coming from between Alex’s legs, so hot it nearly burned her stomach through the thin t-shirt she wore.

Alex was just as lost, but as soon as she felt her hips begin to rock against Erin, she was brought rudely back to the world, and to what she was doing and allowing Erin to do. Quickly she pulled away, gasping for air as she tried to get her breathing under control.

“Enough,” she panted, holding Erin at bay with her hands on her shoulders. “I think you got it all.” She took a moment to gather herself before she pushed off Erin’s lap, heading back to the couch on somewhat shaky legs.

Erin was just as affected, her own heart pounding and her blood pumping to her clit, making it ache. She ran a hand through her hair, still able to taste Alex’s flesh on her tongue. She glanced over at the pumpkin, trying to remember whose turn it was. Realizing it was hers, she sat forward and grabbed the pumpkin, drawing a piece of paper out and looking at it. It took a couple tries before her eyes could focus on the words from both the alcohol she’d drank, and her deep arousal.

She chuckled when she read the question she had to ask.

“Oh god,” Alex murmured.

“It’s not that bad,” Erin assured. “Just amusing, considering… Okay, what is your favorite sexual position?” She met Alex’s eyes. “And please spare me the dick talk, ‘cuz that’s just going to gross me out.”

Alex laughed. “How am I supposed to tell you my favorite sexual position without dick talk? That’s all I know.”

“I know,” Erin grumbled. “Okay, then let’s do this. Come here and show me.”

“No!” Alex exclaimed, eyes huge.

Erin threw her head back and burst into laughter. “I was kidding! Okay, okay, seriously. Then tell me how you like to be touched. Like, what really sets off your rockets?”

“Alright. Let me think for a minute.” Alex pushed off her shoes and pulled her legs up under her on the couch. “Well, first of all, I love to kiss. God, I could spend hours kissing. But, I guess what I love most, and don’t often get, is to be touched.” She closed her eyes, imagining ghostly hands running all over her body. “Touched all over my body,” she murmured, her voice husky from her drunken arousal.

“Any particular place?” Erin asked, tempted to start taking notes.

“Other than the obvious ones, you mean?” Alex teased, hooded green eyes meeting Erin’s. “Anywhere, everywhere.” She let out a needy sigh, but quickly tampered down her desire as she leaned forward and picked a paper out of the pumpkin. She smirked. “Looks like we both have to take a shot, Erin.”

Erin scooted off the chair and to the floor next to the table, bottle of cherry vodka in hand. She set it on the table surface to give Alex that option. Alex had crawled over to the table as well, their knees mere inches apart. Erin looked at Alex, wanting so badly to push her to the floor and fuck her like she’d never been fucked.

“What?” Alex asked softly. “You look like you’re about to eat me alive.”

“Don’t tempt me,” Erin warned, filling her shot glass with the vodka and offering the bottle to Alex. When she got a nod of approval, she filled Alex’s glass. “Bottom’s up, sexy.”

Alex grabbed her glass and tapped it against Erin’s.

They threw back the alcohol, both grimacing at the taste and fire burning all the way down into their gut.

“Do you know where the term ‘rot gut’ came from?” Alex asked, flopping back to sit on the floor, her back against the front of the couch.

Erin shook her head, staying where she was. “Where?”

“In the eighteen hundreds the medical schools weren’t given cadavers to study, so they’d send out body snatchers to the cemeteries to steal bodies, which was illegal. To hide the bodies, sometimes they’d put them in barrels of whiskey. People actually drank the whiskey, no idea there was a corpse in with it.”

Erin scrunched up her face. “Gross!”

Alex giggled. “I know. Can you imagine?”

“No.” Erin picked out of the pumpkin. “Ugh, no way,” she muttered tossing the paper to the table. “Another shot,” she explained with a glance to Alex. Picking again, she grinned. “Ha! Back to you.” She showed Alex the paper, SKIP A TURN written in bold black letters.

Alex groaned but picked out of the pumpkin. She read the paper, gasping at what it said to do. She felt her curiosity and clit twitch in equal measure. Letting out a shaky breath, she looked up at Erin.

“Do you have a stopwatch?” she asked.

Erin looked at her, confused. “What for?”

Alex crawled over to Erin, who had scooted back against the front of the chair, still sitting on the floor. She handed Erin the paper as she settled in on Erin’s right side.

Erin read the paper and nearly came. “Oh god,” she whimpered. She grabbed her cell phone from the table top and switched through the settings until she got to the stopwatch feature. “Thirty seconds?” she asked.

Alex nodded, glancing down at Erin’s boxers, knowing she had no underwear on underneath them, and also knowing that she had to put her hand down Erin’s pants for thirty long seconds. She looked up to meet Erin’s gaze. “Ready?” she whispered.

Erin nodded, unfolding her legs and subconsciously spreading them a bit. “Thirty seconds.” She hit the START key and the seconds began to tick away.

Alex slipped her fingers beneath the waistband of Erin’s boxers, immediately able to feel the immense moist heat before she even reached the trimmed hair between Erin’s legs. She gasped as she continued to slide in, her hand coming into contact with the unbelievable wetness there. Never in her life had she ever touched another woman like she was doing now, but she had to admit it was unbelievably sensual and so very … different.

Erin’s eyes slid closed, her self control in full throttle, as she wanted to thrust her hips against Alex’s touch. She felt those tentative fingers slide down over her sex, cupping her.

“You are so wet,” Alex breathed, unable to help herself as she moved her hand a bit, her middle finger falling into the swollen, wet folds and into the molten heat of Erin’s sex. She ran that finger slowly up and down through the wetness, able to feel Erin’s rock hard clit and then down to the teasing trap of Erin’s opening.

“Fuck,” Erin moaned, her legs falling open a bit more.

Alex was completely caught up in the slickness between Erin’s legs and the heat that radiated between them, and in truth, had for weeks. She leaned in close to Erin’s ear. “If you could do anything right now, what would you do?” she whispered.

“I’d fuck your pussy so hard you’d never think about dick again,” Erin whimpered.

Alex grabbed Erin’s face and forced it towards her, taking Erin’s mouth in a hard kiss, her fingers continuing their work down Erin’s boxers. She had no idea what she was doing, but Erin seemed to like it, so she kept it up, turning her hand so she could concentrate on Erin’s clit with two of her fingers.

Erin’s kiss was savage, her tongue plundering Alex’s mouth. She was breathing so hard as her orgasm began that she had to break away from the kiss. “Fuck, I’m gonna come!” she cried, her body exploding, covering Alex’s hand with hot juices.

Alex groaned in sympathy, her own clit twitching uncontrollably, desperate for attention. “Fuck me, Erin,” she whimpered, pulling Erin back into the kiss. “Fuck my pussy. I need you to make me come so bad…”

Erin quickly recovered from her powerful experience, pushing Alex to the floor and following suit. She took Alex’s mouth in a passionate kiss, sucking her tongue into her own mouth before her own tongue was sucked into Alex’s.

She blindly shoved at the skirt of the costume, a ripping sound sounding the room. She didn’t care, as she was desperate to get to Alex. Finally, as they continued kissing, her fingers found their way up the skirt and inside Alex’s completely saturated panties. She thrust two fingers inside and began to pound into her.

“Fuck!” Alex cried, her legs spread as wide as they’d go with the damn skirt on. She clawed at Erin’s back, her hips thrusting up to meet Erin’s every move. It didn’t take long before her body convulsed around Erin, leaving Alex speechless with the intensity of her orgasm.

They both laid there for a long moment, panting into each other’s mouth as their world slowly returned to them. Erin recovered first, pulling her fingers out of Alex with a wet sound. She braced herself on her elbows and looked down at Alex’s beautiful, flushed face. She wanted her so bad it hurt.

“I want to kiss and lick your whole body,” she whispered, leaning down and taking Alex’s mouth in a slow, sensual kiss, her hands brushing blonde hair out of Alex’s face. She pulled away from the kiss, her hand running down Alex’s body to her thigh. She reached around underneath and gently pulling Alex’s thigh up, pressing down against Alex with her hips. “I want to taste your pussy,” she whispered against Alex’s lips. I want to lick you and fuck you with my tongue.”

Alex whimpered at the words, her hands running down Erin’s back and into the waistband of her boxers, hands cupping Erin’s ass. “I want you, Erin,” she moaned.

Suddenly, Erin pushed up from Alex and held her hand down to her. Alex took it and was helped to her feet then led into the bedroom part of Erin’s room. Once there, Erin took Alex into her arms and initiated one of the most passionate kisses Alex had ever participated in.

As the kiss continued, Erin brought her hands up and finished unbuttoning the white costume dress, the garment falling to the floor around Alex’s bare feet. She stepped out of it and kicked it aside.

Erin broke away from the kiss and looked down at Alex’s body, a body she’d dreamed and fantasized about for months. She ran her hands down Alex’s sides and over her hips, coming back up over a muscled stomach and finally to full breasts in their vodka-stained bra. She reached around Alex and unclasped it, watching with avid eyes as it fell away, revealing one of the most beautiful sights Erin had ever seen. She couldn’t help but marvel at what a complete idiot Lance was.

Leaning in to kiss Alex’s silky neck, Erin ran her fingers down Alex’s naked back and into her panties, pushing them down with the continued momentum. She heard Alex moan softly at the wet kisses and then groan as one of Erin’s hands slid up and cupped a breast.

Alex’s own hands went on the move, pushing down Erin’s boxers then work up under her t-shirt, pushing Erin’s bra up over her breasts and cupping them. She delighted in the small growl that earned her, one of Erin’s hands finding Alex’s ass and pulling Alex’s hips into Erin’s.

Suddenly, Erin broke from Alex’s neck and pulled away, just enough to pull her shirt over her head and toss her unclasped bra to the ground. She walked Alex backwards to the bed until Alex fell onto the mattress, back peddling until she was able to lay down with her head on the pillow, Erin following.

“Do you have any idea how bad I’ve wanted to fuck you?” Erin asked, pushing Alex’s legs apart and settling her hips between them. They both moaned as she rested her naked body atop Alex’s, their breasts pressing together.

“I think I have an idea,” Alex grinned, raising her knees and wrapping her legs around Erin’s hips.

“Mm, I don’t know,” Erin murmured against Alex’s neck, sucking the skin into her mouth before letting it go, only to lave it with a hot tongue. “Spread your legs for me, baby,” she whispered against the skin, groaning approval when she felt Alex obey. “Open them wide.” She spread her own legs a big, adjusted herself against Alex. “You feel my pussy against yours?” she whispered, her words shaky from her intense arousal as she moved her hips a bit.

Alex let out a loud moan, her hands finding purchase on Erin’s ass. “Oh my god,” she whimpered.

“Jesus, we’re both so wet,” Erin marveled, able to hear their slick juices sloshing together with every slow move.

“Feels so good,” Alex blew out. She had never felt anything like it; it took her breath away.

Erin rose to her hands, rubbing harder against Alex, though trying to keep the surface area only to their clits. “Shit!” she exclaimed, the pleasure building as she continued to move, the bed squeaking with her slow thrusts. She lowered her upper body just enough so her breasts would brush against Alex’s, their hard nipples touching. That alone sent a shock wave of pleasure through her body, add to it the wonderful little whimpers and mewling sounds Alex was making, Erin was ready to burst.

Alex’s head fell useless to the side, her breathing turning into constant panting as she got closer. “Erin,” she cried, grabbing painful handfuls of Erin’s ass as she came with a loud groan.

Erin didn’t even noticed the pain as she looked into Alex’s face as she climaxed, which sent her over the edge, her face buried in Alex’s neck, her loud cries muffled. She grinded herself into Alex, milking as much pleasure as she could until finally she collapsed on top of Alex, her chest heaving with the excitement and exertion.

Alex wrapped her arms around Erin’s back, holding her close. Her sex convulsed several times, coaxing soft whimpers out of her each time.

*****

Shawn and Lisa exchanged a quick kiss once he killed the engine of his truck, parked at the curb behind Erin’s. They climbed out of the car and joined hands as they made their way up the walkway to the house. Shawn noticed Alex’s car parked at the curb in front of Lance’s house.

“I wonder if they made up,” Lisa wondered aloud, as Lance had already called Shawn to tell him what had happened.

Shawn said nothing, as he had a feeling Alex wasn’t even there.

*****

Erin was about to move off Alex, but Alex stopped her. “Stay,” she said softly. “I love the way you feel against me, so soft.”

Erin was quite happy where she was, she just hadn’t wanted to be too heavy on Alex, even as she held her weight on her forearms. She looked down into Alex’s beautiful face, fingers lightly stroking the delicate feature and soft, blonde hair. “You are truly the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” she murmured, her eyes eating up the visual feast before her.

Alex smiled and blushed slightly. “Thank you.” She ran her hands up and down the full length of Erin’s back. “When did you get so charming?”

“Well,” Erin murmured, laying a playful trail of kisses along Alex’s jaw. “If a dog swallowed a diamond, eventually he’ll shit it out, and then, if you dig through the shit, you’ll find that diamond.”

Alex stared at her for a moment, bemused. “Are you comparing yourself to the dog, the shit or the diamond?”

Erin laughed against the skin of Alex’s throat. “Maybe all the above.”

Alex smiled, bringing a hand up to bury itself in Erin’s hair as she continued to kiss along Alex’s neck. She sighed into the pleasurable sensations, especially as the kisses began to go from playful to slow and wet.

Erin made a slow trail of kisses and licks down along Alex’s throat, her tongue dipping at the hollow, then moved on to pay homage to her shoulders and collarbones. “You are exquisite,” she murmured against the side of a rounded breast. “I could touch you forever…”

Alex whimpered softly at the words and then as her nipple was taken into the hot warmth of Erin’s mouth. “Erin,” Alex breathed, her body heating up yet again.

Erin took her time, her mouth suckling one breast while her hand worshipped the other. In all the dozens and dozens of women Erin had ever been with, she’d never had the need to go so slow, to explore and please like she did with Alex. It literally had become a mission to give her as much pleasure as she possibly could, as though something inside her would break if she didn’t.

Erin’s mouth moved to the other breast, meanwhile her hand running down over the smooth skin of Alex’s side, caressing the softness, not only for Alex’s benefit, but also – and mostly – for Erin’s. Alex’s softness seemed to hold all the secrets of the world, and she was desperate to attain that knowledge. She could feel renewed wetness on her stomach as she slowly loved her body further down Alex’s.

There wasn’t a single square inch of the front of Alex’s body that she didn’t sample and caress. Finally, she reached the juncture where Alex’s hip met her thigh. She paid just as much homage to Alex’s thighs as she did everywhere else. She smiled into the flesh as she felt Alex really beginning to squirm. Quiet whimpers and pleas escaped from above Erin as she ran her tongue down along the bend of Alex’s leg, the scent of Alex’s need making her nearly dizzy with her own need to pleasure and taste.

Alex’s fingers dug into the sheet beneath her body, her hips moving of their own accord, as her sex was in desperate need of attention. She moaned when she felt Erin’s breath nearing where she needed her the most. “Baby, please,” she begged, thrusting herself blindly towards Erin. “Please.”

Erin couldn’t hold back anymore. She spread Alex open to her with her fingers, using her arms to hold Alex’s thighs wide apart. She ran her tongue up from Alex’s opening to her clit then back down again. She reveled in the breathy cry that produced. Wanting to hear that sound again, she repeated her action, though this time when she reached Alex’s entrance again, she slid her tongue inside, flicking at Alex’s walls before she began a steady slow fucking with her tongue.

Alex cried out, her hands shooting down to Erin’s head, holding her in place. The gentle rhythm of Erin’s tongue was driving her crazy. She arched her back as she opened her legs wider. Erin had gotten her so worked up with her sensual exploration of her body that Alex wasn’t entirely sure how long she’d last.

As Erin continue her slow fucking, she brought a hand up, covering Alex’s extended clit with Alex’s own slick wetness and began to massage it in firm circles. Erin smiled at the litany of moans and curses she heard coming from Alex’s lips, and knew she was close. In one move, she took her fingers away from Alex’s clit, replacing them with her tongue. She sucked the hard flesh into her mouth and sucked as she batted at it with her tongue. Within moments, Alex’s body stiffened and a loud, primal cry escaped her throat, her entire body convulsing as she came in Erin’s mouth.

Alex was so still, Erin worried for a moment that she’d lost consciousness. She kissed her way back up Alex’s body, lovingly caressing her face. “Baby, are you okay?” she whispered softly.

Alex nodded, seeming to get herself back. She blinked her eyes open several times, finally focusing on Erin’s concerned face. “That was unreal,” she whispered, her heart only now beginning to return to some semblance of its normal cadence. She brought her arms up and hugged Erin to her. “Jesus.”

Deeply satisfied, Erin held Alex to her for a long moment. Finally, she rolled over onto her back and pulled Alex with her, pulling the blankets of the unmade bed up to cover them. Alex immediately cuddled up against her, her head resting on Erin’s shoulder.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted,” Erin murmured, running her hand up and down Alex’s back.

Alex sighed, sated and content. “Yeah,” she agreed, her voice sleepy.

Hours later, Erin woke to lips on hers and gentle fingers running through her hair. She opened her eyes, the pre-dawn cold permeating the room. She looked into Alex’s face, which hovered above her own. She was disappointed to see Alex had her bra on.

“I should go,” Alex said once she realized Erin was awake. “I don’t think it would be too good for Lance to see my car still here when he gets home.”

Erin nodded, knowing full well that Alex was right, but she didn’t want her to leave. She returned the soft kiss Alex gave her. “Let me give you something to wear.”

Erin and Alex climbed off the bed and Erin went to her dresser. She grabbed Alex a pair of warm sweat pants and a heavy sweatshirt. She watched as Alex quickly dressed. “So what now?”

Alex didn’t answer for a long moment but then she faced Erin, shaking her head. “I don’t know, to be honest. I know that after last night, I have no desire to go back to Lance.”

Erin wasn’t sure if she meant Lance’s actions or their time together. She decided it didn’t matter. She stood, cold and naked and watched as Alex walked up to her, wrapping her in a lingering embrace.

“I need some time to think, Erin,” Alex murmured into Erin’s neck. “I also don’t want to hurt Lance or your friendship with him.”

Erin nodded; though she may not like it, she completely understood. She cupped Alex’s face and brought her in for a slow, deep kiss, wanting Alex to understand how she felt about her in the only way she knew how, as she had no right to put it in words. Alex returned the kiss, and seemed to be saying the same thing. After the kiss broke, they hugged again and then Alex pulled away.

“You better get back into bed before you get sick,” she said, playfully slapping Erin on her ass.

Erin nodded with a smile. “Drive safe, okay?”

“I will.”

Erin watched Alex disappear into the darkness that was the rest of her bedroom, but could hear her gather up her things, and finally leave.

*****

As the morning sun crept over the cold day, Erin was already up, showered and dressed. She’d only managed a few more hours sleep after Alex had left. Tired of lying in bed, she’d decided to get up. Her hangover wasn’t horrible, luckily, so she figured it best to get into the shop early to finish with the inventory. She’d been there exactly twenty minutes when her cell phone rang.

When she saw her brother’s name pop up in the I.D. window, her stomach dropped, guilt gnawing at her. “Hey, Shawn,” she said innocently into the small phone.

“Hey. Where are you at?” he asked.

“I’m at the shop, working on inventory.”

“Oh. Okay. Well, I’ll be in a little later.”

“Okey doke. See you then.”

Erin clapped her phone shut and set it on the counter next to the cash register as she scribbled some notes for a product they needed to order in. She was surprised, and somewhat startled, to hear a tapping on the glass of the locked front door to the still-closed store. Her surprise grew when she saw that it was Alex who was doing the knocking.

Hurrying around the counter, Erin unlocked the door and let Alex in before locking it behind her. Alex was freshly showered and dressed in her work scrubs. “How is it that in baggy ass scrubs you still look hot as hell?” Erin accused.

Alex grinned. “Just lucky, I guess. I drove by your house but your car was gone, so I took a chance you’d be here.”

“And so I am.” She took Alex’s hand and tugged her through the showroom and into the back office.

Alex allowed herself to be heaved up to sit on the edge of the large desk, Erin standing between her spread legs. She knew it was a mistake, but couldn’t help it. She set the folded sweats and sweatshirt on the desk next to her.

“So, what do I owe this highly unexpected pleasure?” Erin asked, her hands resting on Alex’s hips. She was fighting within herself to not just clear the desktop with an arm and fuck Alex on the spot.

“I brought your clothes back to you and I think we should talk,” Alex said, her hands running up and down Erin’s forearms.

“Oh yeah? What should we talk about?” Erin asked, her gaze traveling over Alex’s face, down her neck and down into the ‘v’ neckline of her scrubs top, revealed in the opening of her winter coat. She could just barely see a hint of cleavage.

Amused, Alex grabbed Erin’s chin and forced her head up, their eyes meeting. “Do you know what I think?”

A slow, sexy grin spread across Erin’s face. “That I should undress you right now and eat you out?”

Alex stared at her for a moment before breaking into laughter. “God, you’re so infuriating!” Even so, she found herself completely drawn into Erin’s charm. Her hands slid up Erin’s, over her shoulders and finally into her hair, pulling her down for a kiss.

Erin leaned into Alex, her hands cupping her ass and pulling their bodies closer together. She deepened the kiss, her blood set to boil. As the kiss heated up even more, she pushed the heavy jacket from Alex’s shoulders, Alex letting one arm go at a time to slide out of the sleeves. Moaning into the kiss, Erin cupped one of Alex’s breasts through her shirt and bra, squeezing lightly and rubbing her thumb over the nipple until it hardened.

Alex hissed at the sensation, breaking away from the kiss as her head fell back. She hugged Erin’s head to her as a hot mouth found her neck. “God, why can’t I resist you?” she whimpered.

Erin had no answer as she continued to fondle Alex and nip at her neck. “I want you so bad,” she whispered, finding Alex’s mouth again. “I think about you night and day,” she whispered against Alex’s lips. “God, baby… I can’t get enough of you.”

‘Erin,” Alex whimpered, her heart softening with each word, each kiss and each touch. “God, I need to get to work, but I don’t want to leave.”

Erin pulled back just enough to look into Alex’s face. “Call off. I’ll leave the shop to Shawn today and we can go somewhere.” She initiated another slow kiss. “We can make love all day,” she whispered against Alex’s lips. “Have us a Halloween to remember.”

Alex smiled at the words and was so completely tempted. “God Erin, I just don’t know. It’s wrong what we’re doing.”

“I know.” Erin’s hands slipped around to Alex’s back, sliding up under the thin material of the scrubs top. She reveled in the heat of Alex’s bare skin upon her fingertips. “But it feels so damn right.”

“What will Lance or your brother say?” Alex asked, her breathing uneven and her heart racing.

“I don’t care.”

“We have to care, baby,” Alex murmured, placing a soft kiss on Erin’s kiss. Even as she said the words and felt them to be true, she wrapped her legs around Erin’s hips, using them to hold Erin as close to her as possible.

“Come away with me,” Erin pleaded in a whisper. “Spend the day with me.”

Alex brought a hand up and caressed the side of Erin’s face as she looked into her eyes. She was about to agree when suddenly the office door was slammed open and Shawn stepped inside.

“I knew it,” he growled, eyes angry.

Alex and Erin both jumped, Erin pulling out from between Alex’s legs, but stayed protectively in front of her.

“I fucking knew it! Erin, how could you do this? Again?!”

“Go,” Erin said to Alex, turning to the blonde, who hopped off the desk and onto shaky legs. “Go and let me deal with this.”

Shawn turned away as Alex quickly breezed by him, a soft sob the only sound from her as she hurried out of the office and then out of the store.

Erin watched Alex go, glad that she wouldn’t have to witness the likely fallout that was to come. Once Alex was safely out of the store, Erin turned her focus to her brother, who refused to meet her gaze.

“How long has this been going on?” he asked, voice low and dangerous.

“Last night was the first time.”

“Don’t lie to me, Erin!” Shawn boomed, her eyes filled with angry fire as he pinned his sister to the spot.

“I’m not lying to you,” Erin defended, her own voice rising. “It just happened, okay?”

“No, it’s not okay. How the hell do you this is going to make Lance feel?”

Now Erin’s own ire began to rise. “Lance. You’re worried about Lance?” She got in Shawn’s face. “Did Lance tell you how he treated her last night? How I had to go out there and get between them as he shoved her around?”

Shawn stared down at his sister surprised, though unwilling to show it, as he was still beyond angry with Erin. “He admitted they had a fight,” he said coldly, “but that doesn’t give you the goddamn right to fuck her, Erin!”

“It just happened, Shawn, and she was planning on leaving Lance after what he did last night.”

“Yes, but did Lance know that? Had she actually talked to him? Confronted him?” Shawn accused.

“Shawn, Alex could have gotten Lance arrested last night if she’d wanted to. He’s been a monster to her and you know it!”

Shawn turned away, running a hand through his hair. He knew damn well what Erin was saying was true, and he also knew that he was allowing his own emotions and feelings of what had happened two years ago interfere with his emotions. Taking several deep breaths to calm down, he turned back to Erin.

“What does this mean, Erin?” he asked, his voice sounding tired. “Are you guys an item now or was it just a conquest?”

Erin flopped back into the desk chair, letting out a tired sigh. “I really like this girl, Shawn. I’d even go so far as to say I’m in love with her, which is nuts, considering I barely know her.” She shook her head, images of the night before haunting her. “There’s something there. If I had my way, I’d ask her to friggin’ marry me.”

Shawn leaned back against the wall, arms crossed over his chest as he listened. He had to admit that he was surprised by his sister: to his knowledge, she’d never loved any of the women she was with, maybe only liked them a lot. Even so, he could see it in her eyes. “You’re serious.”

“Very.”

Shawn studied her for a long moment, then tucked his thumbs into the front pockets of his jeans. “I don’t like what you did, but it’s not my place to tell Lance; it’s Alex’s.” With that, Shawn left the office and the store.

The store had closed early for the day, which Erin was glad about. The last thing she wanted to do was to be stuck there. It was Halloween night, and the town had pretty much died and shut down by 5 p.m. as everyone went home to get ready for trick-or-treating or parties.

Erin drove around for a long time, not ready to go home, yet. In truth, she wasn’t sure if she’d be confronted by Lance or Shawn, and she didn’t want to go back into her empty bedroom, Alex’s memory and smell still rife. That thought was interrupted by the chirping of her cell phone. The I.D. window indicated that it was a restricted number. Erin almost let the call go, but decided to answer it.

“Hello?”

“Hey, Erin.”

Erin felt her day go from cold to warm, just from the sound of Alex’s voice. “Hey you.”

“Listen, I’m not going to stay on long, but I need to tell you something.”

Erin pulled into the empty parking lot of a Re/Max office. “Are you okay?” she asked, able to hear a heaviness in Alex’s voice. She sounded like she’d been crying.

“I talked with Lance today and I let him know that we’re finished,” she said softly.

Erin felt her heart expand in her chest and hope rise. “Probably for the best.”

“Yes. Erin, I didn’t tell him about us, about last night. I didn’t think it was right to hurt him anymore than he already is. He made his bed as far as my leaving him, but he didn’t deserve to be cheated on.”

Erin felt her hopes crash into a million little pieces. “I want to try and make this work with you, Alex. I mean, I know you just got out of the relationship with Lance, but I really want-”

“No.” Alex was quiet for a moment, a soft, muffled sniffle. “No,” she whispered again. “I’ve already caused enough problems for you, Erin. I don’t want to come between you and your family.”

“You’re not, Alex. Me and Shawn talked-”

“And I need time to think,” Alex interrupted, her voice slightly stronger. “After everything that’s happened, I really need to think about some things, and I have to do that alone, Erin. Please understand.”

Erin was surprised to feel a tear begin to roll down her cheek. “Please don’t walk out of my life, Alex,” she whispered.

It was obvious Alex was crying softly on the other end of the line. “I have to. Please understand.”

“Let me come over, Alex. Let’s talk about this-”

“No!” Alex exclaimed. “No. I won’t be able to resist you dammit, and right now I have to.” She was quiet for a long moment, just the sound of her soft crying to tear Erin’s heart out. “I want you to know that last night was the most beautiful and amazing moment of my life, Erin. I’ll never forget it or you.”

Erin understood this was a final goodbye. She swiped at her eyes only for more tears to fall. “Neither will I,” Erin whispered.

“Goodbye, Erin,” Alex said softly.

Erin squeezed her eyes tightly shut as the tears really came. She covered her mouth so Alex wouldn’t hear on the other end of the line. “Goodbye,” she finally managed to whisper.

 

The End… ?

Continued in Accidental Fall 

Notes:

Erin Lawson – uber X, 19
Alexandra “Alex” Wayland – uber G, 24
Shawn Lawson – Erin’s brother
Lance Dicks – Alex’s bf, Shawn’s bff

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