The Dylan Morgan Show – Season 2 by Jenny Frame

d morgan2

The Dylan Morgan Show – Season 2
By Jenny Frame
Summary: After being kidnapped by her ex partner. Emily Taylor is praying she will be rescued before Toni can do any lasting damage. Will Dylan, Jackson and the police reach her in time?

Episode1
The first thing Emily became aware of was the pain in her wrists. Her eyes fluttered open, and the room spun round. She groaned as the contents of her stomach threatened to rebel.

Wh . . .what is going on? Emily felt her hands and feet were bound tight, and she was lying on her side as her hands were bound behind her back.

The last thing I remember is . . . Emily fought hard to remember.

Molly! My god . . .the school. I remember . . .there was a shot . . .my baby! Please god! Please say Jackson got her out. I remember standing by the police van . . .everyone rushed into the school. I can’t remember. No . . .someone grabbed me from behind, held something to my mouth and then . . .nothing.

Once her vision settled she looked around the room as much as her condition would allow. She seemed to be in a small bedroom with wooden walls. Maybe it’s a cabin?

It didn’t look like a rundown shack though. There seemed to be pictures on the wall, cushions on the arm chair, and on her bedside table was a checkered cloth with a vase of wild flowers sitting on it.

There was something odd about it all. It was as if it had been thrown together by someone who had no idea about keeping a house, or it was the decor of an eighty year old woman.

“Oh god my head!” Whatever chemical had knocked her out was now making her head pound.

Emily tried to move around, testing the strength of her bonds, but they were on tight and unmoving.

Suddenly she heard footsteps coming towards the door, and her heart began to race. Emily would be able to, finally, find out who had ripped her from her family.

The door creaked open. “Hi my baby boo.”

****

The Morgan residence was a hive of activity. Mark and Patrick had set up a command centre in Dylan’s office, coordinating the hunt for Emily and waiting for any ransom demand, Lynn was trying to sort out the media frenzy on her cell phone in another corner.

“Here drink this.” Rosie handed Jackson a cup of coffee. She had been trying to make herself useful by making drinks and snacks for everyone.

“Thanks.”

“Did you get through to her?” They both looked over to the couch where Dylan sat staring into space, Molly, who had eventually cried herself to sleep, attached like a limpet round her neck.

Jackson sighed and shook her head. “No. She won’t talk. She’s lost somehow. I just don’t know what to do, how to help her. She wouldn’t even talk to Lynn.”

The young artist rubbed the centre of Jackson’s back, longing to give her comfort.

“You’re doing what you can; just being here is helping her. You’re being a good friend.”

After Dylan had read the email, she ran frantically for the first available vehicle. She had no leads or any idea of where to go, but her heart and her mind screamed for her to act.

It had taken Jackson, Mark, Patrick and two other officers to wrestle her from the front seat of the vehicle. Eventually after kicking and screaming, she went limp, having expelled all of her energy. She had not said a word since, only shaking her head when Rosie offered to take Molly.

“Maybe.” Jackson turned and gave Rosie a weak smile. “Thanks for staying. It helps . . .a lot.”

Rosie met Jackson eyes with a steady gaze. “There’s nowhere I’d rather be. You are all my friends.”

She wanted to say so much more than she did, but could only say silently to herself. I want to be where you are. I care . . .I love you.

Rosie cleared her throat and said. “I honestly think Molly would be better off in her bed, rather than being all uncomfortable on the couch. Dylan needs a break too, maybe we could get her to eat something?”

“I think she’s in some sort of shock, but let’s try again. Come on.”

They walked over to where Dylan was sitting, and Jackson said “Dylan?” Getting no response she knelt down beside her “Hey boss? I think you need a break. Rosie’s made you something to eat, why don’t you let her take Molly for you?”

Dylan continued to stare straight ahead but shook her head. Jackson stood and shrugged her shoulders at Rosie.

The young woman followed Dylan’s gaze forward and realized she wasn’t blindly staring ahead at all.

“Jackson look.” Rosie pointed to a framed picture on the bookshelf. It was a picture of Emily and Dylan with little Molly up on her shoulders. The picture had caught them laughing and clearly enjoying themselves at some sort of park.

“What can we do?” Jackson asked Rosie.

“Let me try something” She walked over and picked up the picture. Jackson watched Dylan’s eyes follow Rosie as she brought the frame over to the couch and sat down.

“This is beautiful Dylan, Where was the picture taken?”

She was met with silence, but just as Rosie was set to give up Dylan said.

“Central Park Zoo. It was our first date.”

Jackson looked down at the young artist and smiled. You are incredible Rosie Henderson.

“Really? It looks as though you had been together for a long time, the way you two are looking at each other, and Molly looks to be having so much fun!”

“A photographer took it without us knowing. When it appeared in a magazine, I called and got some copies of it. I couldn’t believe how good we looked together. Like a . . .like a real family.”

Rosie took her hand as she heard Dylan’s voice break, tears threatening to spill over.

“Why don’t you put Molly to bed? I’m sure she’ll be much more comfortable there than here.”

Dylan simply nodded and stood, tenderly rubbing Molly’s back as she walked.

When Dylan disappeared down the hall, Jackson pulled Rosie up from the couch, and didn’t let go.

“How did you do that?”

Rosie looked down at their joined hands, Jackson’s thumb rubbing small circles on the back of her hand.

“I don’t know, just instinct I guess”

“It’s because you’re one of the most caring people I know hippy girl.” They were falling slowing into each other’s eyes when Mark shouted from the office.

“Jackson! We could use your help here.”

They broke away, awkwardness suddenly setting in.

“I’m coming, give me a minute.” Jackson turned back to the young woman. “Listen I . . .”

Rosie felt the need to get away. She seemed incapable of controlling herself around this powerful woman.

“Um . . .I need to go and get Dylan’s sandwiches.”

Jackson watched her run away to the kitchen and sighed, Damn! I thought I was finally getting somewhere!

“Jackson!” Mark called again.

“Coming!”

****

“Toni? What?” Emily gasped in shock, then began coughing and spluttering. Her mouth and throat were dry from lack of water.

Her blonde captor rushed to put down the tray she was holding and then poured out a glass of water from the jug on the tray.

“Hey Em, here drink this. You’ll be okay, just take little sips.”

Emily gratefully sipped water from the glass Toni held out for her.

“There you go baby boo.” Toni put the glass down and began to stroke Emily’s head.

She shook at the sound of Toni’s pet name for her.

“I’m sorry I had to make you so uncomfortable for your journey, but I had to make sure I got you here.”

Has she gone insane? How can she talk so reasonably about abducting me?

Toni continued to stroke Emily’s head. “Now, if you promise to be good, I’ll take the bindings off. It will get you nowhere if you try to run. We’re miles from anywhere and totally isolated. If you look out the windows, all you’ll see if trees for miles. For the first few days, you’ll stay in here until I’m sure you have understood you’re not going anywhere. After that you’ll be free to move around the cabin, you’ll have a lot to do! I’ve missed you’re cooking boo.”

Emily winced as the ropes around her wrists were loosened. “Why Toni?” She gasped.

“Why?” Toni smiled and laid a gentle kiss onto Emily’s reddened wrist. “Because we’re meant to be together Em. We’re soul mates, and we can finally restart our life together.”

“Molly . . .is she okay?”

Toni’s happy smiling face turned to thunder in a second. Her hand shot out and grabbed Emily around the throat.

“Don’t even mention Morgan’s bastard again! That is your old life, this is your new life. Get used to it. Understand me?”

The young woman was gasping for breath, but almost as quickly as it had started, it was over. Toni released her throat and poured her another glass of water, smiling as if nothing had happened.

“Here, sit up and drink some more. I’m sorry I had to do that, but you have to learn, and fast, that your past life is over. You’re mine again. You are Mrs. Bianchi. I love you so much, and you love me.”

Emily, now unbound and sitting up against the headboard, could see more of the room. Everything looked clean but strange in its decor. The windows had old fashioned plaid drapes, there were cushions on the armchair and a rug on the floor. Not a usual abandoned cabin.

Toni watched her look around. “I tried my best to make everything pleasant for you boo. I know I don’t have your touch but over time you can change things. I’ve been working hard to try and make this a comfortable home for us and our family.”

What family? Oh, Please Dylan. I need you!

“Oh I forgot! I got these for you.” Toni lifted the vase of wild flowers from the tray onto the side table.

“I thought these would brighten the place up for you.”

Emily looked in dismay. She’s totally insane!

“I’ll leave you to settle in. I’ll be back in a bit with some food.” Emily flinched when she leant over and kissed her on the head.

As Toni walked towards the door, Emily said, “Please Toni. I promise I won’t cause you any problems, please just tell me if Molly’s safe.”

Toni didn’t turn round but sniggered to herself. I’ve got you right where I want you boo.

“Perhaps tomorrow if you’re good, little wife.”

The door was shut and locked. Emily collapsed in floods of tears.

My baby! Please be alive Molly!

****

Dylan laid Molly in her bed gently and pulled the covers over her, making sure to put her stuffed penguin, stinky, in beside her. Ever since, Dylan had bought it for Molly at the zoo, the little girl had never slept without it and had named it after her favorite penguin in the film, Mr. Popper’s Penguins. “Sleep well my little Smurf.”

Dylan sat on the bed and looked round at the newly decorated room. Molly loved the colorful animals on the wall, especially the little monkey, hanging upside down from the tree.

Dylan brought her hands up to her face. She had never felt so helpless in all her life. Everything she had, the happy safe family life had been taken away in an instant.

At first she felt anger like she had never experienced before. She remembered the frustration of being tackled to the ground by her friends, she had been ready to rip everyone and everything in her path to shreds. Then shock had set in. To Dylan, Emily was as necessary as food, water or breathing. Dylan knew she couldn’t survive without her.

Think Morgan think! Where would Toni take her?

She got up and walked to the window, somehow trying to process all the information that her fiancée had ever told her about Toni.

There had been absolutely no trace of Toni’s get away. With all the attention on Molly held at gunpoint in the school, she was able to slip in and away from the scene undetected.

A search of Toni’s apartment had yielded nothing, and a visit to her Mother had been no help. The elderly woman was distressed and upset at what she was seeing on the news.

The police were insisting there was nothing to be done but wait for a ransom call, and monitor Toni’s credit, and bank cards, to get an idea of where they were headed.

Dylan knew that there would be no ransom demand. Toni wanted nothing more than Emily herself. What terrified Dylan the most was the thought of what would happen when Toni realized her little fantasy of happy ever after could never happen. She knew Emily would fight her every step of the way. What will Toni do then?

Once Toni knew it was a losing battle to gain her ex girlfriends affections. Dylan knew what Toni was capable of.

Dylan looked out over the brightly lit New York skyline.

Where would she take you baby girl? Where would she take you, to have you all to herself?

Dylan grabbed her head as if the extra pressure would help her think.

“Talk to me Emmie.” She replayed their conversations over and over until something Emily had said, popped up in her mind.

“Yes! I bet that’s it!”

She rushed over to her sleeping daughter, kissed her head and said, “I’m going to bring Mama home Molls. Jackson and Rosie will look after you. I won’t let Toni steal Mama from us!”

****

Mark, Patrick and Jackson were staring at the computer screen as if it would change at any moment. The analysis of Toni’s laptops and computers had come through and shown nothing that would help them.

“Nothing! She’s covered her tracks well.” Patrick said to them both.

“How can a restaurant manager cover her tracks that well? I mean she’s no computer expert.” Jackson said angrily.

Mark stood and opened his notebook. “According to her drug counselor . . .Dr Gail Davenport, she encouraged Toni to take up some interests, to help her recovery. One of them was computers apparently. In her basement, we found several different laptops and computers. According to her credit card bills, she had paid for and taken numerous online courses, some more reputable than others. She must have had an aptitude for it.”

Jackson shook her head. “So what do we do next guys? Dylan’s going to explode at any moment?”

Mark shrugged his shoulders. “We’ve sent a couple of officers over to talk to the girlfriend, to see if she’s got anything. Unless we hear anything more, I don’t know.”

“It’s 8:30 now. Why don’t we grab something to eat and call everyone in for a situation report at 9 PM?” Patrick suggested.

Just then Rosie popped her head round the door. “Jackson I can’t find Dylan. have you seen her?”

“She’s in Molly’s room, look again.” Jackson said, fully in command mode.

Who does she think she’s talking to? How did I ever think I liked her?

“Well she’s not soldier boy. I took a sandwich in to her, and she was gone.”

At that moment, a police officer pushed past Rosie.

“Sgt! Morgan’s gone . . .and she has a weapon.” The young man said sheepishly.

Patrick roared. “How the hell did she get a weapon?”

“Well I was posted outside her daughter’s bedroom, she came out and was talking to me and stuff.”

“And? Spill it officer or I’ll have your badge!”

“Em . . .we were talking about her show. She asked if she could see my gun . . .and then I asked for an autograph. She told me to get a pen from her daughter’s bedroom, when I came out she was gone.”

“Martinez you are a fucking idiot! Now we have an extremely bad tempered, angry, hurting, highly skilled fighter, trolling the streets looking for her fiancée, with a gun!”

The two officers stood to leave. “We need to track her down!”

“Let me do it, I can calm her down.” Jackson pleaded. “You two just concentrate on getting Emily back. You don’t need to be distracted by this.”

“Okay. Just get her back, and let us know what’s happening.”

“Will do.”

She ran to the front door, knowing she had only one chance.

Rosie shouted. “What’s going on?”

“Just take care of Molly!” Jackson shouted back.

“Hey! You can’t just leave!” But Jackson was gone.

****

Jackson pulled out her cell phone as she ran down the stairwell that led to the underground parking garage.

She called the doorman Maurice at the front desk. “This is Hunter, has Ms Morgan left the parking garage yet?”

Maurice looked down at his security monitor. “She’s just coming up to the security barrier Ms. Hunter.”

“Please don’t let her through it. I need to catch her before she leaves.”

“Of course Ms. Hunter.”

Jackson burst through the doors taking her out into the parking garage. She ran full out towards the black jeep at the garage exit.

As she got nearer she heard Dylan shouting at the intercom, “Maurice open this fucking barrier now!”

Jackson jumped into the passenger seat. “Dylan what the hell do you think you’re doing? Stealing a gun? What do you think you’re going to achieve?”

Dylan face red with rage. “I tell you what I am going to do, I’m going to find my girl and beat Bianchi to a bloody pulp, then shoot her between the eyes!”

“You don’t even have any clue where to go.”

“I know where they are.” Dylan said coolly.

“Dylan listen, you need to think this through calmly. If you have any leads, you have to share them with the cops.”

“I won’t let this turn into a hostage situation like it was with Molly.” Dylan turned and looked straight ahead, her voice croaked as she said “I can’t lose her.”

Jackson put a comforting hand on Dylan’s shoulder. “I know, look give me a few minutes. Park up over there and tell me what you know, I promise that I won’t tell anyone if you don’t want me to. I give you my word.”

Dylan knew what Jackson’s word meant to her, so she sighed and began to back up the car.

She turned off the engine and scrubbed her face with her hands in frustration.

“So? Tell me. You know you’re more than my employer now. You’re my friend.”

“I know, I’m sorry, I should have talked to you, but I’ve never felt so out of control. I’m scared Jackson, I’m scared of living without her.”

“You won’t have to. We’ll get her back. Tell me.”

“I was sitting there, just re running everything Emmie had told me about Toni. There was something nagging at the back of my head, somewhere she had said Toni would go, and then it hit me.”

Jackson leaned forward. “What did she say?”

“She said that when their relationship was going bad, and Toni was cheating, she started spending more time at a hunting cabin her family owned up in the Catskill mountains. Emily thought she took women there. She has to be there Jackson. It’s remote, secluded, it’s perfect to hide out.”

Jackson thought for a moment. “Hmm. maybe but it’s a massive area to search, we’ll need police co-operation to find out which cabin is hers.”

“Can’t you call your buddies in the FBI? Please Jackson let’s try this on our own. I can’t risk Emmie’s life.”

Jackson shook her head, but Dylan handed over her phone and said “Please Jackson, I’m asking you as a friend. I need to do this. If you don’t do it for me, then do it for Molly.”

“Put that away.” Jackson pulled out her own cell and pressed the speed dial. As she put it to ear, she said, “That was unfair Morgan and you know it.”

Dylan got the car started and screeched off “I could kiss you Hunter!”

Jackson scowled “Please don’t! I like my women with fewer muscles and less likely to throw me on my ass! Just drive.”

Dylan smirked. “Yes, this is Hunter. I need the location of a cabin in the Catskill mountains, under the name of Bianchi, Thanks.” Jackson hung up the cell phone.

“My contact will phone us en route. It’s going to take us at least two and a half hours to get there.”

“Thank you Jackson. I’ll never forget how you’ve helped my family.”

I’m coming to get you Emmie!

****

Emily’s heart sank as she heard the key turn in the door. She jumped back on the bed as if she hadn’t moved. Since being freed from her bonds, Emily had been trying everything to find a way out. Even though Toni had said they were miles from anywhere, she would rather take her chances out there than in here. But both the large windows in the room and in the attached bathroom were nailed shut, all she could see was the dirt road and surrounding forest.

I’m trapped! How will Dylan ever find me?

Toni opened the door and came in with what looked like some food and that unnerving smile of hers.

“Hey Em I hope you’ve settled in now. I brought you some food. You know I can’t cook, but I got some microwave meals to use, just until you’re up to cooking again.”

Emily looked down at the sad looking meal placed on the side as Toni sat herself down in the armchair.

“You must be hungry boo.”

The blonde looked up in dismay at the casual demeanor of her captor. “Why are you doing this?”

“Why? Because I love you of course! I lost you for a while but now everything can go back to normal. I’m sorry I’ve hurt you in the past. I should never have slept with those other girls. I didn’t realize how much I needed you in my life till I lost you. I promise you there will never be anyone but you in my bed. You are mine.”

The mention of being in Toni’s bed made Emily start to shake with fear. She remembered the roughness with which her former partner had taken her and how she had tried to force herself on her.

The thought of Toni forcing her to betray Dylan made the anger boil up inside her, and even though she was terrified, she felt that she had to fight Toni with every last breath.

“I will never be yours! I belong to Dylan, and I always will.”

Her captors demeanor went from relaxed and reasonable to dark and menacing in a millisecond. She leaned forward and took Emily’s hand and squeezed it firmly.

“I’ve told you once, and I’m only going to tell you once more. You are never to mention that name again. That part of your life is over. I have tried to make things pleasant for you, I’ve fixed up the cabin, made sure we have enough food and anything you could need. You are my wife, so you better start remembering that and acting like it.”

The tears were now pouring down Emily’s face, but the rage made her disregard the consequence of her words.

“Your wife? Don’t make me laugh! You didn’t take our commitment ceremony seriously. It was a way to shut me up and get drunk with your friends! It didn’t mean anything!”

“Shut the fuck up bitch!” Toni twisted her wrist back until Emily screamed out.

“I said shut up!” The pain in her wrist was soon replaced by the shock of being dragged up by her hair and thrown against the wall.

The blonde struggled in vain against her ex lovers greater strength as she pulled her head back. “I’ve been good to you, and this is the attitude I get from you? I remember why I hit you before. You aggravate me until I’ve got no choice but to teach you some respect!”

“Toni, let me go, please! You’re hurting me!” Emily cried.

“And I’ll hurt you even more unless you start acting like my wife. Now eat or don’t eat, I don’t care, just make sure your attitude has changed by the time I come to bed.”

Oh my God no! Please not that!

“You’re sleeping here?” Emily croaked.

Toni released her hold on her captive and smirked as she stroked her fingers down Emily’s cheek.

“Of course baby boo it’s our bedroom.”

Emily felt the room suddenly crushing in on her at the thought of sharing a bed with Toni.

“No!” She screamed and lashed out, putting three angry scratches across her captors cheek.

“Ah! Fucking bitch!” Toni touched her cheek and saw blood on her fingers.

Emily crumpled to the floor after Toni’s fist connected with her face. Blood poured from her nose and mouth.

Her ex lover towered over her, breathing heavily. “See! See what you’ve made me do? Why do you do that to yourself!”

She went into the bathroom and brought back a towel, throwing it down at Emily.

“Make sure you clean yourself up. I’ll be back to go to bed in a few hours. I’ve been waiting a long time for you. Don’t disappointment me boo.”

She left leaving Emily in a heap, and bloody mess.

****

“Fucking piece of shit!” Dylan shouted kicking the front tire of her Jeep.

The best money can buy and it’s laid low by a couple of fucking nails!”

They had been driving for about half an hour when one of the tires had blown. Passing motorists looked on astonished at the site of TV star Dylan Morgan beating up her car.

Jackson let the spare tire fall to the ground and then grabbed Dylan by the shoulders.

“You need to get a hold on your anger boss! Or you’ll lose your focus. Emily needs us to be in control when we get there.”

Dylan shrugged out of her friends grasp.

“Argh! I feel like I’m going fucking insane, like I’m crawling out of my skin! I just keep thinking of what that bastard is doing to her. You know what she done before.”

I have to get her under control, or this is going to turn into a disaster! Jackson thought.

She looked at the pain and anger etched on Dylan’s face. Would you be any different? Images of Rosie tied up and gagged went across Jackson’s mind and her stomach roiled.

She picked up the car jack and threw it to Dylan. “Here, let’s jack this thing up and get out of here.”

Dylan sighed and got to work. A short time later Jackson was ready to put on the wheel. She wanted to keep Dylan distracted from her thoughts, so she asked “Tell me about the first time you saw Emily.”

A soft smile appeared on the Dylan’s face.

“When she looked up at me, I felt like I’d been shot, but in a good way.” She balled her fist and thumped her chest.

“I felt it physically, Right here, like a bolt had gone right through my chest. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I heard myself say, ‘Ah! There you are. At last!’ Like I’d been waiting for her to show up my whole life. I had never seen anyone more beautiful than her. She seemed to have some sort of glow round her, not just of beauty but of goodness. I knew in that second that I would die for that woman.”

Jackson looked over at Dylan, astonished by the eloquent words of her usually down to earth employer. “Wow. That was beautiful my friend.” Having finished fixing the wheel, Jackson walked over and offered her hand to her. “Let’s go get your girl back.”

“Yes. Let’s do it.”

Outwardly, Dylan’s anger looked as if it had calmed, but it had, in fact, morphed into something much more dangerous.

I hope you’re ready for me Bianchi, cause I’m going to make you bleed for every little thing you have done to my Emmie, and once I’m done hurting you, I’m going to kill you . . .slowly!

****

Rosie walked into the kitchen to find Lynn hanging up her cell phone.

“Did you find them?”

Lynn sighed and shook her head. “Nothing. Both phones are just ringing out. They just don’t want to be found.”

“Mark and Patrick are going crazy through there as well.” Rosie said.

“I swear, when I get hold of Dylan I’m going to skin her alive!”

Rosie smiled, she realized Lynn was as close to a mother as the TV star had since she was estranged from her family.

“Sit down and I’ll get you some coffee Lynn. You’ve been on that phone for hours.”

“Thank you dear. The press are going crazy over this” Rosie brought them over two cups of coffee and sat at the kitchen table.

“At least Molly is sleeping soundly. That’s a blessing.”

Lynn sighed. “Yes It’s been a massive help having you here as well dear, especially with Dylan going off like that..”

“I’m sure she’ll be okay. She has Jackson with her, and if nothing else Jackson is level headed and calm in a crisis. She’ll make sure Dylan doesn’t do anything stupid. ” Rosie stared down into her coffee cup.

Patrick popped his head round the kitchen door. “Lynn, Rosie? We’ve had a sighting of Dylan and Jackson from a patrol car on the freeway. They were broken down so hopefully we can make up some ground if we leave now. I’ve left some officers to man the fort here. If you need anything, just ask them.”

“Thank you Patrick, I hope you bring them home safely.”

“I know they’ll all come back safe.” Rosie said as Patrick rushed off.

Lynn picked up her phone and began to redial the number she knew wouldn’t be answered. “I hope so, I can’t imagine how Dylan or that little girl through there would survive without her.”

****

Emily looked at her reflection in the small bathroom mirror. Her mouth, jaw, and eye had swollen up to twice the size and were already starting to turn a horrible color. Her wrist fared no better, she had no idea if it was broken, but it felt extremely painful to move her fingers. She threw down the bloody towel that she had used to try and clean herself up.

She could hear Toni banging about, and the sound of bottles clinking together, and so feared that her captor was drinking.

Emily looked herself in the eye and made a promise to herself and to Dylan.

“No matter what happens later honey, I will fight, fight to stop her taking what is only yours, and fight to stay alive, but if I fail you know I will have tried with everything I have. I pray to God our little girl is safe with you. Look after her. I love you goofy.”

She dragged herself back to the bed and waited in the hope that help would get to her in time.

****

“Can’t you go any faster?” Dylan had reluctantly handed over the wheel to Jackson at the last stop.

“I’m going as fast as I can. If you want to keep the cops out of this, then we can’t draw any unwanted attention.”

“How much longer?” Dylan grumbled.

Jackson looked at the clock on the dashboard. “An hour, maybe less? Remember what I told you, I agreed to this only if you follow my rules. You stay in the car while I check out the location, when I feel it’s safe, we enter, and you follow my lead, and leave that police issue gun in the car!”

Dylan was worryingly silent.

“Dylan? Yes?”

“Yes whatever.”

Dylan replied with no conviction. Just get me there Jackson. Then I’ll take care of Bianchi myself!

****

I must have fallen asleep. Thought Emily, the pain in her wrist pulling her out of her slumber. When she opened her eyes, she saw Toni laying beside her with a lecherous smile, dressed only in boxers and a t-shirt. She smelt like alcohol and there was evidence of empty beer bottles strewn around the room.

Also to her horror, she looked down to see she had been stripped down to her underwear.

“Hey Em. I almost couldn’t wait any longer. But I wouldn’t want you to sleep through our first time back together.”

Emily scrambled away as fast as her injuries would allow, and ran for the door to find it locked. Toni jumped up and stalked towards her. “Where are you going boo? Do you know how long I’ve waited for this? How long I’ve fantasized of having you in so many different ways.”

As her captor got closer, she saw her chance and grabbed one of the empty beer bottles then smashed it on the wall.

“You stay away from me Toni! I will not allow this to happen to me again!” The blonde screamed.

Toni just smiled menacingly. “You’re not going to use that Em. ” She walked up to Emily’s hand that shook as she gripped the broken bottle.

You have to survive for Dylan and Molly’s sake. Do it!

Toni pressed her chest into the ends of the bottle. “Go on then Em. I’m giving you a free shot. Go on! Hurt me!”

Emily tried to summon all her strength to push the bottle forward, but she just couldn’t.

In a flash, the larger woman batted the bottle out of Emily’s hand and pushed her up against the wall by the throat.

“No, I didn’t think so because you love me! I know you do. I’m not doing anything wrong. It’s my right, you’re my wife!”

Toni began to attack Emily’s mouth with bruising kisses and bites while squeezing her breasts painfully. Emily used both her good and injured arm to fight her captor off.

“No! Get off me! I’m not your wife. I belong Dylan! Molly and Dylan!”

Toni roared in anger, and holding the blonde by the hair, smashed her head against the wall.

“Don’t ever say those names you fucking bitch! You’re little Morgan brat is dead! Drew Simpson put a bullet in her head!”

Emily screamed and clawed at her captor in a frenzy. “No! Molly! No!”

Toni lost complete control of her anger and smashed Emily’s head against the wall so hard, blood streamed down the young woman’s face.

As the blackness enveloped Emily all she could think of was her daughter,

Dylan I love you. Molly Mama’s coming sweetie!

****

Jackson pulled over the car to the side of the road. “Okay. If my contact is correct the cabin belonging to Toni’s father, is about half a mile up this road. I want you to stay here until I go and Recon the area. Then we’ll make a plan. Okay?”

“Sure. Just hurry up!”

“Okay boss. Hang tight.”

Dylan watched Jackson disappear up the dirt road, then opened the glove compartment, where she had seen Jackson stash the police gun. She grabbed it and started to run up the road.

Knowing she had to keep out of Jackson way, she kept to the tree line at the edge of the road.

When she got up near the cabin, she saw Jackson, weapon out, making her way round to the back of the property.

If Jackson’s going in through the back, it might be just the distraction I need.

Dylan crouched low and made her way across to the porch. The only experience she had with guns was with a rifle, when she had done a target challenge at a weapons range, but hand guns were something different.

Dylan’s confidence and ego was such that she thought there was nothing she couldn’t master.

She held the gun, pointing it ahead as she crept up to the front door. Dylan looked down at the gun and thought.

How hard can it be? Come on Morgan, Emmie needs you!

Dylan heard no sounds coming from behind the door, so gingerly opened it and burst into the room leading with her gun.

She swept around the large living area looking for targets. Finding nobody she was then drawn towards a door at the other end of the room. There were no voices, but she heard a persistent dragging noise and then a creaking of a bed spring. Dylan rushed towards the door.

****

Jackson was making her way back round to the front of the cabin, having found the back windows boarded up and no feasible means of entry. As she passed a window on the side of the property, she saw Dylan make her way across the living area, gun drawn.

“Fuck Morgan! I told you to stay put!”

After quickly assessing the options, she quickly went to follow her employer.

****

Dylan kicked in the door to see the most sickening sight. Emily’s lifeless looking body stripped, battered and bruised, held in Toni’s arms on the bed. Her momentary shock and inaction gave Toni the chance to grab a knife she had at the bedside and put it to Emily’s throat.

“You! Put the gun down!” Toni shouted.

Dylan’s rage grew as her eyes searched her fiancée’s body for serious injury. As well as the cuts and bruises on her face and body, blood seeped down her face from an open head wound. The rage inside was making Dylan squeeze tighter on the trigger.

Toni’s knife pressed closer to Emily’s neck, making a small red bloody line.

“Put it down Morgan, I mean it!”

Regaining some of her control, Dylan relaxed her grip on the weapon and slowly lowered it to the ground.

“Okay. The guns down, let her go now!” Dylan tried to say calmly.

Toni’s eyes darted around wildly, trying to think her way out of this situation.

“No! Emily’s mine . . .Why can’t you leave us alone!”

Toni’s agitated state was worrying Dylan, the knife in her hand was shaking and making an ever deeper cut Emily’s delicate throat.

What do I do? How do I get us out of this? Think! Then it came to her. She had to do what she does best.

Anyone who had observed Dylan at that moment would have seen her whole body physically change as she put on her game face. Dylan’s shoulders dropped as she let the tension held in her body go. She became taller by standing more upright, and a look of icy calm appeared on her face.

“Toni? Can I call you Toni? I understand how you feel Emily has been stolen from you.”

Toni looked at her suspiciously. “I had no idea of her past with you when I met her.”

Dylan knelt down at the side of the bed, trying her best to appear calm while look at her unconscious fiancée.

“Stay back!”

“I’m not going to hurt you or try and take Emily from you. I realize now, how much she means to you. All I’m concerned with is my child. You know Molly is mine don’t you?”

“Yeah! You can keep her. She’s all Morgan, she has nothing of my Emily in her!”

You are so wrong, Molly is the best of both of us! Thought Dylan angrily.

That’s all I want, my daughter. I’ll leave you in peace if you let me get Emily some medical attention.”

“I don’t believe a word you say! Leave now! I can take care of Emily.”

Dylan was fast losing control of the situation. She stood and backed up a few steps trying to give Toni some breathing room.

“Okay, okay just take a minute and keep cool.” Dylan was increasingly worried about the flow of blood from Emily’s head, and her masked nearly slipped, when she saw bruising on her fiancée’s breasts.

She stared hard at Toni. I’m going to kill you. Dylan knew that Jackson would be close, and she would get her opportunity. All she needed to do was keep Toni talking and play for time.

“We need to think about this Toni. I came on my own, but the cops are going to be following me, we need to come up with a plan to get you and Emily out of this, if you want Emily, you need to be free from any unwanted attention.”

Toni was breathing hard, panic coursing through her body, “I didn’t mean to hurt her. I had to!”

“I’m sure you didn’t. Put down the knife and we can sort this out like adults.”

Hurry the fuck up Jackson! Dylan’s mind screamed.

Then the room became a blur as everything seemed to happen at once. Jackson burst into the room and aimed a shot at Toni’s arm. The knife dropped from her hand as she grasped her injured arm and howled in pain.

Dylan seized the opportunity and jumped through the air, to wrestle Toni to the ground.

“I’m going to kill you, you fucking piece of shit!” Toni screamed in pain as she twisted and turned trying to break free.

Dylan’s mixed martial training kicked in as she subdued her opponent in an unbreakable ground hold. Dylan’s powerful legs were able to hold the weaker injured Toni, leaving her arms free throw deadly pouches onto Toni’s rapidly bloodying face.

Jackson looked on at Dylan’s murderous rage. She understood the need for retribution and punishment, she knew she would feel the same uncontrolled rage if she found Rosie’s bloody and lifeless body, but she was supposed to be the level headed one. Jackson couldn’t let Dylan do something that she would regret, and they had to get Emily some medical help.

“Dylan that’s enough! I’ve got Toni covered!”

Dylan couldn’t hear her. All she saw in her mind was Emily’s battered body. Jackson knew she had to do something and quick, Toni was battered to death. Taking the chance that Toni was battered to the point where she wouldn’t pose much threat, she lowered her weapon put Dylan in a choke hold, trying to drag her off her opponent.

As Dylan struggled Jackson shouted, “Enough Dylan, you need to see to Emily! I have Toni under control!”

“No! I’m going to kill her!” Dylan roared.

“No! Emily needs help! She is more important, she needs you!”

Jackson’s words finally started to permeate through her brain. Emily, Emily needs you!

Suddenly all the fight left Dylan’s body. “Let me go to her!”

Jackson released her, and she scrambled over to her fiancée’s limp body. Dylan’s hand shook with terror as she searched for a pulse. When she found one, she grasped Emily’s hand and kissed it repeatedly. “Oh thank you God! Thank you! Thank you! Don’t you leave me Emmie. We need you! Jackson we need medical help here.”

Jackson had moved Toni up against the wall. Toni cradled her arm as she coughed and spluttered the blood that flowed down her misshapen nose and from her busted mouth.

Jackson had her gun trained on Toni’s head, just daring her to make one false move.

“I called the local authorities when I saw you had come into the cabin. They won’t be long. Here, keep my gun trained on her while I find something to tie her up with.”

Dylan gave Emily’s lips the gentlest of kisses and pulled one of the bed blankets over her exposed body. “I’ll be back in a minute baby girl. Help is coming, so you hang on okay?”

Dylan took Jackson’s gun and kept it trained on Toni’s head. “I’ll just be a minute boss. I think there is some rope over there.”

Toni’s eyes fluttered open just as they all began to hear sirens coming towards the property.

I’ve lost. Morgan has beaten me! Maybe not . . .

“Morgan!” Toni rasped.

Dylan looked down at her with utter hatred. “You think you’ve won . . .but you haven’t. I’ll forever haunt your lives.” Toni gave a cruel laugh, which turned into a coughing fit.

“You have no power over us now you fucking bastard. I got here in time, I saved Emmie, once she sees a doctor, she’ll be fine, we’ll go back home and live a happy life with our daughter while you become some big, butch daddies bitch in prison!”

Toni wiped blood she had coughed up from her mouth and smiled. “You remember that time at my apartment, you asked me if remembered trying to force myself on Em when she was pregnant?”

Dylan’s grip on the gun became tighter.

“Well I do, and little precious Emily didn’t tell you the truth. I didn’t try to force myself on her, I did. I fucked her and fucked her all night while she was pregnant with your brat, and you weren’t even there to help.”

Dylan’s hand began to shake with rage. “Shut up! Shut up!”

“Don’t listen to her Dylan!” Jackson shouted. She had found Emily’s discarded restraints on the other side of the room and was making her way back over.

“No, do listen. Emily lied to you about that night, and I don’t for one second regret it like I told you, I’ve been fantasizing about having her again, and I did, You didn’t get here on time!”

“Shut up! Shut the fuck up!”

Dylan was losing control, her mind was screaming at her to shut Toni up, and Jackson could see the situation was getting out of hand.

“Give me the gun Dylan, I’m back and can keep her covered. The cops will be here any minute.” Despite Jackson’s protestations, Dylan kept a vice like grip on the gun.

Toni was enjoying torturing her rival. Although she knew she couldn’t win, she was going to leave Dylan with some lasting images and words to damage her mind and her relationship with Emily.

“All these years since that night, all I’ve had are my fantasies, but as soon as I got her back here I was able to relive them.”

“No! We got here in time!” Dylan roared.

“She’s just trying to get into your head boss. Give me the gun!’ Jackson shouted.

“You didn’t. If she wakes up she’ll tell you nothing happened, so you don’t get all upset and angry, but I had her three times. I fucked her, and she screamed in pain as I forced myself into her body. But it’s better when it hurts isn’t it Morgan? It feels good when they squirm and thrash underneath you, when they pretend they don’t want it. I know she did though. I raped her over and over again, and even though her body might heal, every time you touch her, or try to make love to her, I’ll be there in your head, in her head. Em will always be mine.”

Tears of rage were running down Dylan’s face as she struggled to control herself.

Jackson knew this was not going to end well and put her hand on Dylan’s arm trying to push the gun down.

“Put it down. She is not worth it. Think of Emily, think of Molly.”

Dylan allowed her arm to be pushed down. “Good, I’ll get her secured. Go sit with Emily.”

As Jackson prepared the restraints Toni said, “Morgan?” Dylan looked at Emmies captor, eyes filled with fury, and watched with horror as Toni lifted two fingers and sucked them deep into her mouth, and made a show of licking them.

“Hmm . . .she tastes so sweet Morgan.” Then it happened. Toni’s head lolled to the side as the bullet imbedded itself in her brain.

Dylan calmly lowered the gun and her lip curled up in a cruel smile.

“What the fuck Dylan!” Jackson shouted. She had to make a decision quickly as she heard the armed police enter the cabin.

Jackson grabbed her gun and pushed a stunned Dylan towards Emily.

The police burst into the room and shouted. “Everyone on the floor now!”

Once the room had been subdued, Mark, Patrick and the medics rushed in. Dylan was silently holding Emily’s hand, shocked at what she had just done.

“We need to assess the patient Ms Morgan. Could you step back.” When Dylan ignored them, Mark came over and pulled Dylan away. “Let them do their work buddy.

Meanwhile, Patrick was getting a report from Jackson. “I had to use my firearm when she came at me with the knife.”

Jackson knew she had to cover for her friend. Dylan was going to have a difficult enough time ahead with Emily, without having to deal with interrogation for shooting an unarmed assailant.

This was something she could do to ease the trauma, and she would gladly do it for her friends.

Luckily the knife Toni had been using was fairly close to the body, so her story should stack up.

“Okay. I’ll need a full report, but everything should be fine. How is Dylan?”

“She’s in shock, I just pray that Emily will be alright, or it might kill her.”

They both watched as Emily was wheeled from the room, tubes coming from her arms and oxygen mask over her face. Dylan followed on behind, her face like stone.

“Is it okay if I go with Dylan? I think she’ll need someone.”

“Yeah sure, I’ll square things with the local cops.”

****

Dylan and Jackson were seated in a private room, waiting on news of Emily’s condition. After the chopper had taken them to the local hospital, Emily had been whisked away to ER. Jackson had to, physically hold, Dylan back when they took Emily away. The staff had given them a private room since Dylan’s presence would cause mayhem in the public areas. The hospital was already in chaos with the press camped at the front of the building. Television news crews from around the world were broadcasting live about the extraordinary kidnap and rescue.

Jackson looked up at Dylan who had been pacing back and forth for the last hour and a half.

“Dylan sit down and take a rest. You must be exhausted.”

“Rest? How can I fucking rest when Emmie’s in there fighting for her life, and no one will tell me anything!” She slammed her wrist against the wall in frustration.

Jackson jumped up grabbed her employer by the shoulders. “Listen, Emily will be fine. I know she will. She’s a fighter and has everything to live for. You have to keep your cool and stay in control, especially when the cops question you. Okay?”

They had already gone over this, Jackson told her to explain to the police she had been at Emily’s side when the shot was fired.

“I don’t like it Jackson. It’s too much to ask of you. I can’t let you take the blame.”

“If you don’t you will have shot an unarmed woman.”

Dylan pushed away from her friend. “Yeah I did, and I would do it again. You saw what she did to Emmie.” Fresh tears ran down Dylan’s face.

“You know what she said she did . . .I . . .I’m glad I did it. Toni was a sick fuck! She deserved it!”

Jackson knew she had to talk her friend through the panic or they would all be in trouble.

“I know. I would have done the same as you, but you can’t afford this sort of trouble. If you tell the truth now, it’s going to look bad. When the cops came in, you were with Emily. It was my gun, there would be questions, and even if we could come up with some story, your reputation would be damaged. People would say there’s no smoke without fire. You’ve got this massive career and a family to look after and help heal. You hired me to protect your family, and that’s what I’m doing. Trust me, the cops will have less reason to doubt my story. But you have to hold it together okay?”

Dylan looked at Jackson. Can I do this . . .

“I just want to say, you are the best friend I have ever had. I’ll never forget what you’ve done for my family.”

Dylan held her hand out and Jackson shook it willingly, sealing their bond of trust.

The room door opened, and a doctor came in. “Hi I’m Doctor Mills, Sorry we’ve kept you waiting this long Ms Morgan.”

“How is she Doctor?”

“We’ve been trying to stabilize Emily’s condition. She has a broken arm, broken ribs and other external injuries. It seems she received repeated blows to the head, and it has given her a significant head injury.”

“Significant? What does that mean Doc?”

“Well in the short term it means we’ve got her stabilized, and now we’re going to take her to the operating room to get a closer look at her skull, we believe she may have a small crack. Once we check there are no detached skull pieces, we will induce a coma and allow her brain to try and heal itself.”

Dylan held the doctor by the shoulder. “Try? She’s going to be aright isn’t she? I mean she will wake up won’t she?” Please Emmie! Please God you’ll be okay!

“I’m afraid that will be up to Emily Ms Morgan. With a brain injury like this, we do all that we can to allow the patient’s injury to heal, then it’s up to them.”

Doctor Mills looked on in sympathy as Dylan collapsed onto the chair and sobbed into her hands. Dylan Morgan, rich, powerful, world famous, but it all meant nothing when faced with the universal pain of losing a loved one.

“Ms. Morgan, rest assured we will do everything humanly possible to bring your fiancée back to full health. We have some of the best surgeons in the country.”

Dylan managed to nod in response, and the doctor said to Jackson, “We’ll come and let you know when Emily is out of surgery.”

“Thank you Doctor.” Jackson took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“Doctor!” Dylan said as he was about to leave the room.

“Yes? You have another question?”

It made Dylan feel sick, to even ask this question, but she had to.

“Was . . .she raped? Her captor said she was.”

“There was no evidence of bruising or tearing, so at this point I would say no but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t some sort of sexual assault. It’s hard to tell in a situation like this. Really only Emily can tell us what happened.”

Dylan’s guts twisted at the thought. After the doctor left Jackson said.

“Can I do anything? Get some coffee or something?”

Dylan rubbed the tears from her eyes. “Um . . .could you call Lynn and see how Molly is? I just need a minute alone.”

“Of course. I’ll be back soon.” Oh hippy girl, I could use your help right about now!

****

The next four hours were the longest and most excruciating of Dylan Morgan’s life, but finally Emily was brought back from surgery. Dylan and Jackson were being led to the private room to see her. The Doctor had reported that everything had gone as well they could have hoped for. It was now just a waiting game. The nurse opened the hospital room door, and Jackson heard Dylan gasp at the first look of her beloved fiancée. Tubes and wires were coming from her arms, and her head was covered in a thick bandage where she had been operated on.

“I’ll Stay outside for a bit, give you some time alone. Okay?” Said Jackson.

“Thanks.” Her voice cracked with a reply.

Dylan suddenly very alone. The room silent bar the beeps from the various monitors. She walked forward towards the bed, her hand shook as she reached out to touch Emily.

“Hi baby girl . . .I . . .” She fell to her knees and broke down crying, holding Emily’s hand to her cheek.

“When you were in surgery I was thinking of all these things I wanted to say to you, but now . . .all I can think of to say now is how much I love you. I need you so much, Molly needs you so much. You have to wake up baby girl, or all we’ll be eating is cereal and pizza! The doctor says your head needs time to heal, and that’s fine. You take the time you need, but then you get those eyes of yours opened cause I can’t live without you. I never lived until I met you and Molly and I won’t live without you. I won’t!” Dylan said with an angry edge to her voice.

She kissed Emily’s hand tenderly but her heart sank in despair when she saw her fiancée’s missing engagement ring.

Toni you fucking sick bastard! You’ve nearly taken everything from me. I hope you rot in hell!

****

After giving Dylan time alone, she knocked the room door and entered the room. The sight of Emily like this made her feel angry, angry that she didn’t succeed in her job. Dylan had fallen asleep holding onto Emily’s hand. She must be exhausted.

Jackson took a seat on the other side of the bed and let her employer sleep. Half an hour later Jackson heard Dylan mumble Emily’s name in her sleep and waken with a gasp.

“Wh . . .What? Shit I must have fallen asleep. Has anything happened?”

“No. You need rest.”

Dylan stood, stretched and walked over to look out of the window.

“I’m not leaving Emily until she wakes up. I wasn’t there to protect her when she needed me, so I’m making sure I’m going to be with her now.”

“Dylan you couldn’t be with her all the time if anything it was my fault. She was taken under my watch.”

“Dylan turned to face her friend. “No! You were saving our daughter. I can never repay you for that. I just feel so helpless. Emmie’s just lying there and there’s nothing I can do for her. I want to be strong for her.”

Jackson walked over and put her hand on her shoulder. “You were and still are being strong. You found her, no one else, and you did what needed to be done.”

“Em . . .When Emmie wakes up will you tell her what I did? I’m not sure if she would understand.”

“It’s up to you what you tell her. What happened in that the cabin will go with me to my grave, so whatever you feel comfortable telling her. I just know I would have done the same if I had found the woman I love in that situation.”

“You are a good friend Jackson.”

“You would do the same. Now is there anything I can do to make things easier. What about Molly?”

Dylan scrubbed her hands over her face. “Yeah, I want Molly with me. It would make Emily feel better too. Can you get me a couple of suites at a local hotel and ask Lynn to bring Molly? We need a base until Emily can be moved home. Shit I’m going to need Lynn to handle the press here. Do you think Rosie would come and help with Molly? I know Emmie and Molly love her, I would pay all her expenses of course.”

Jackson smiled at the mention of the fiery young woman. “I’m sure should would be happy to. She loves little Molly and will be anxious to see Emily.”

“Great. That would make things easier.”

“I’ll get on it then.” As Jackson walked toward the door Dylan said,

“The woman you love? Is that Rosie?”

Jackson let out a breath and simply said. “Yes.”

“If she’s the one you want buddy, don’t waste any time messing around. Tell her how you feel and fight for her.” Dylan sat and took Emily’s limp hand. “You never know how much time you’re going to have with each other. Don’t waste it.”

Jackson nodded and left to make the arrangements Dylan asked for.

****

Jackson had been delighted at Rosie’s response when she asked the young woman to accompany Lynn and Molly to the Catskills. She was only too happy to come and help out. Pauley and a couple of other studio security people had been sent to pick up the two women and Molly. The press were not only camped outside the hospital but outside the families city apartment. They were followed all the way to the hospital, and an upset Molly was immediately taken to her Mom. After Lynn visited with Dylan and Emily, she immediately went to work trying to handle the press. The hospital was able to give her an office and help from the hospital administration staff.

Jackson and Rosie were standing side by side waiting outside Emily’s room, giving Mom and daughter time alone with Emily.

Jackson turned her head and said. “Um . . .thanks for coming to help.”

“I’m happy to. Emily is such a good friend and Dylan needs support.” What Rosie didn’t mention was that she wanted to be there to help Jackson. She knew the normally buttoned up soldier would be struggling to cope emotionally with handling the situation, and Dylan.

“What about your job at the bar? Will that be okay?”

“I’ll call when I go back to the hotel. I don’t care what the manager says, I just needed to be here with you all. What are the doctors saying?”

“She came through the operation well and they induced a coma to give her time to start healing. They say the next twenty four hours are critical, then it’s up to Emily.”

“We have to pray she wakes up.” Said Rosie.

“With brain traumas like these you have to worry about what the damage will be if she does wake up.”

“I know Emily will be fine. She knows how much Dylan and Molly need her.”

Jackson just nodded. “What about you? How are you doing with everything Jackson?”

“Me? I’m okay. It’s not me that’s hurt or hurting.” She said dismissively.

Rosie turned and leaned slightly toward Jackson. “Listen soldier boy. You forget I know how seriously you take your job, and Emily was not just any old job, I know you care about them all. Not to mention the fact that you had to shoot Toni.”

Jackson hated to lie to Rosie and so chose her words carefully. “I did what I had to do to protect Dylan and Emily, but that’s what I’m trained for. Don’t worry about me hippy girl.”

A silence fell between the two and after a minute Jackson felt Rosie’s hand clasp her own. Neither had the words or the courage to make comment on it.

****

“Mama? You wake up now pease?”

Molly sat on Emily’s bed holding her mother’s hand. Dylan had explained that Emily was sleeping so that she would get better, but Molly believed her Mama should wake up when she talked to her. It broke Dylan’s heart to see her little girl so confused and upset.

“Molls remember I told you Mamma has to sleep to feel better? We have to let her. She’s really tired.”

Molly thought for a minute, her little face showing the strain of thinking so hard, “Mom, why did the bad lady hurt Mama?”
Dylan gulped. She knew this question would be coming, as much as everyone had tried to insulate the little girl from the awful truth, she had picked up bits and pieces from the TV news. How the hell do I answer this? God I wish you could help me Emmie.

“Well the woman that took mama was very sick and thought Mama belonged to her, but she was wrong and Mom and Jackson got Mama back.”

Molly seemed to accept this explanation for now, Dylan was dreading when Molly would ask about Toni’s death.

Jackson knocked the door and interrupted them. “Sorry to bother you but the local detectives would like a word with you.”

Shit! Dylan had hoped the police questions were over. Although she did not regret for one second killing Toni, she hated lying, especially to her buddies Patrick and Mark.

“Okay. Could Rosie maybe take Molls for a drink and a snack while I’m gone?”

“Sure.” Rosie replied from behind Jackson.

Dylan lifted Molly down and gave her daughter some money from her wallet. “Hey Smurf, go and get some candy and a coke. I won’t tell your Mama.”

The little girl smiled and trotted off happily with Rosie. “They have a room down the hall.” Said Jackson. “Just remember to stay calm and stick to what we discussed earlier.”

Dylan nodded and kissed Emily softly on the hand. “I won’t be long baby.”

****

“Tell me the fucking reason I need to go over this again!” Dylan shouted as she paced up and down the small room.

Jackson looked on, worried that Dylan was so near the edge she was going to crack.

A local detective had wanted to go over Dylan and Jackson’s story, even though Patrick and Mark had given him a full report.

Detective Shaw had been like a dog with a bone since the interview began, going over every single detail.

“Shaw is this necessary? Ms Morgan has told you everything she can.”

“I’m sorry sergeant, I just wanted to double check the details. Toni Bianchi’s body had an awful lot of injuries for a quick struggle before she was killed.” Something doesn’t add up. I know Morgan is hiding something. Thought Shaw.

Dylan had heard enough. She walked over to the small table where Detective Shaw was interviewing her and slammed her hands down.

“I’ll tell you what fucking happened Detective!”

Oh Shit! Thought Jackson.

“I found my fiancée in her underwear, held on a bed at knifepoint, injuries all over her body, bruises on her breasts, her face bloody and swollen, I was angry, I wanted to kill her for what she had done, but she had a knife. I tried to talk to her, get her to put down the knife or at least stall until Jackson got there. Jackson came in, shot her in the arm and I took the opportunity to grab her and beat the living crap out of her and I would do it again. I wish I could have inflicted more pain on that sick fuck, but she kept talking, saying stuff and . . .”

“Then while Dylan was tending to Emily, Toni made a lunge for me with the knife. I had no choice but to shoot.”

Jackson looked over at Dylan, her eyes pleading with her friend to keep quiet.

“Ms Morgan? Is that how it happened?” Asked Detective Shaw.

Dylan took a breath and gathered herself. “Yeah, that’s how it happened.”

Patrick stood and said, “Well, I’m sure that’s all we need. Eh Shaw?”

The detective shut over the file he was writing in. “Yes. That’s all. Thank you for your time Ms. Morgan.” I know more happened in that cabin Morgan. Having no proof and no support from his superiors he knew he would have to accept her story for now.

Once Shaw left, Patrick said “Dylan, Mark and I are going to head back to the precinct and file our reports. If you need anything just call, anytime. Oh, the cops at the scene found this.”

Patrick handed over Emily’s engagement ring. It was dirty but undamaged. She brought it to her lips and kissed the stone.

“Thank you so much buddy. I appreciate it.”

“No problem. See you soon okay?”

Once the detectives left Dylan said “Jackson can you find Molly for me. She’ll need to go back to the hotel soon, and I’d like to spend some time with her.”

“Sure. You’re doing the right thing you know.”

“I hope so.”

****

Emily made it through the first twenty four hours. The doctors assured Dylan that she was responding well, and they hoped she would wake up given time, but as the next two days came and went, Dylan was starting to lose patience.

“There must be something else you can do? Some other treatment you can try? I can pay for anything, give her the best.” Dylan lost her patience with the doctor who had come to do her rounds.

“Ms Morgan, your fiancée is getting the best we have. We have done everything possible, and now it’s up to Emily. I’ll be back later to check up on her.”

After the doctor left Lynn said. “Dylan, they are doing their best.”

Dylan just snorted.

“I know you are frustrated, and I know it’s hard, you’ve been cooped up in this hospital ever since Emily was brought in. You need a break.”

Dylan went over to Emily’s bedside and sat, taking up her usual position holding onto her hand.

“I am not leaving Emmie. She needs me. Look at her? She’s so weak and alone. I need to be here, to talk and remind she has every reason to wake up!”

Lynn walked over and touched Dylan’s shoulder, “And what about little Molly. She needs her Mom.”

“I see her every day, she sees her Mom and her Mama.”

“Dylan she sees you frustrated and angry with the world and her Mama hooked up to machines to keep her alive!”

No one else, but Lynn would have dared say this to her, and it shook Dylan.

She pushed away from the bed, throwing the chair across the room and stomped from the room.

Well that went well! Lynn’s cell phone rang and she sighed as she saw the caller ID.

“Yes. Lynn speaking?”

“Hello? Mrs. Roberts? Have you had a chance to speak to Dylan yet?”

“Things have been a bit difficult here. I haven’t had the chance to broach the subject. Dylan is under a lot of stress at the moment.”

“I . . .my wife and I just want to help.”

“Give me another few hours. I’ll try okay?”

The caller gave an audible sigh. “Thank you Mrs. Roberts. Please try, we want to help.”

Lynn hung up the phone and thought, Oh Dylan! This might make you go off the deep end!

****

Dylan walked the corridors of the large hospital for over an hour, trying to calm down and get her head straight.

She eventually found her way into the small hospital chapel. It was a simple room with five rows of pews, separated by an aisle. At the front was a raised platform on which stood a simple alter, and behind a large crucifix.

Dylan sat despondently in the back pew and clasped her hands in prayer. She hadn’t set foot inside a chapel since Joey’s funeral and felt unaccustomed to asking anyone for anything.

“Eh . . .I’m not sure how I’m meant to do this.” Dylan’s voice cracked with emotion, and her arms fell onto the seat in front.

“I know I’m probably not your favorite person, but Emily . . .well she’s an innocent. She doesn’t deserve this, and neither does Molly. She needs her Mama. I’m asking you please, please let Emily get better and wake up. I need her so much. I can’t bring Molly up without her, please don’t let me have to live without her.”

As Dylan had been deep in prayer, she hadn’t heard the doors of the chapel quietly open, and footsteps come toward her.

“Please god, please spare Emily. I will die without her.”

“Don’t do that, Little Molly needs you.”

At the sound of another voice, Dylan jumped up turned, and shouted. “Wh . . .what are you doing here?”

“I’m here to help you.”

She couldn’t believe her eyes. The man who hadn’t given her a word or a phone call in years stood before her.

“Dad?”

Tommy Morgan looked at an open mouthed Dylan and said, “Hey champ, yes it’s me.”

Episode 2

“What the fuck are you doing here?”

“Dylan Morgan, don’t you swear in Gods house. What would your mother say?”

“I have no idea dad, I haven’t had so much as a phone call from you both in years! How did you get past security?”

Dylan was already teetering on the brink of sanity and now faced with the man who had disowned her, threatened to send her over the edge. He looked a little older but the same tall muscular male version of herself. It was almost unnerving.

“I showed the security at the door my ID and said you were my daughter. I told them to phone Mrs. Roberts to vouch for me if they needed to, but they just let me in.”

“Why would Lynn vouch for you?” Asked Dylan suspiciously.

“Your Mom and I have been calling Mrs. Roberts since we saw your partner had been kidnapped. We wanted to speak to you, to help, but she asked us to give her a little more time.”

“Help?” Dylan strutted up toward the man who had been her hero and said, “You wanted to help the daughter you haven’t even thought of in years? I don’t think so Dad. I’ll tell you exactly what you wanted, you wanted your granddaughter, you wanted Molly, not to be there for me!”

Tommy hung his head and sighed. He had expected this sort of reaction.

“That’s not true Dylan, I have thought about you constantly, and the mistakes I’ve made. We saw little Molly on the news. She is beautiful.”

“She is, and she’s mine dad. My daughter. Joey and I had an understanding.”

Tommy gave a weak smile. “Oh I know that. Pattie has been drumming that into me, Joey had confided in her about that. She looks like you champ.”

Father and daughter met each other’s eyes, Dylan searched her father’s eyes for the sincerity she was desperate to see. It had hurt so badly being cut off from her family because she loved them so much.

“Please Dylan, let me say my piece and then if you want me to go I will.”

Dylan nodded. “Get on with it then. I need to get back to my fiancée.”

“Can we take a seat?”

Dylan sighed and sat beside her father in the back pew, she refused to look at her father though, insisting on staring ahead toward the crucifix.

“It’s hard to know where to start really. Your mom said, I should start with sorry. I am truly sorry I cut you out of our lives, and I’m sorry that I stopped your Mom from contacting you. She wanted to, all the time, but I haven’t been a very good husband or father for the last few years. I’ve been an angry stubborn man.”

“Why Dad? You know it wasn’t my fault? I did my best for Joey.”

“Dylan you are a lot like me. You’re strong, you like to take responsibility for your family. We enjoy the same sorts of things, apart from the acting in front of people thing that is, we liked sports, taekwondo, and you liked helping out your Grandpa and me in the contracting business. We always connected, and I was so proud of you and everything you accomplished. I know I pushed you hard, too hard your mom says, but I wanted you to fulfill a dream that I couldn’t. I wasn’t good enough to make it to the Olympics but from when you were a little girl, I knew you were special and would achieve extraordinary things. Your brother was different.”

“What? Because he was gay?” Dylan sneered.

“Well in a way yes, but not in the way you’re thinking. Joey was different right from he was a little boy. We never shared the same interests and just didn’t connect as we did. He enjoyed his Mother’s company more, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love him. Quite the opposite, I just always knew you and I would have to protect him. You know you were always getting into fights to protect him at school?”

Dylan nodded. “Yeah he got a hard time.”

“Exactly. I was worried about him all the time. It’s a hard road for a boy to take. Even though he didn’t tell us about being . . .that way . . .”

“The word is gay dad. It’s not a dirty word.”

“I know. What I’m trying to say is that we knew deep down, and I knew that you and I would always have to look after him. He was weaker, and before you jump all over me, I don’t mean because he was gay, but as a person. Sure he was a terrific kid, but he never stuck to anything, never worked hard for anything he wanted like you did. He expected everything handed to him on a plate and lived for fun and good times. You know that you have to put in the work to get what you want from life. When he said he wanted to go to the big city like his sister, I could tell there would be trouble, I was worried he would fall into a bad crowd and destructive ways.”

Dylan listened silently knowing her father was speaking the truth.

“When he died, I felt so guilty that it was my fault. Guilty for letting him go, when I knew he wouldn’t handle that sort of life, guilty for not bringing him up better. I felt guilty because I know you tried, you did everything to try and make him better, a hell of a lot more than I could ever do, and when I saw you or thought about you, it reminded me of my failures as a father. I took my anger and guilt and blamed you. It was so wrong, but the grief of losing that boy has blinded me. For that, I am truly sorry.”

Dylan turned a look toward Tommy “Don’t you think I felt guilty? Do you not think I needed your support? It was tearing me up inside, and you shut me out! You had another kid that needed you and mom. I was there all along.”

“I’m so sorry champ. Your Mom kept on at me to see sense. I missed you so much. I didn’t know how to make the first move. Pattie told me she wasn’t having it any longer and was going to phone you, then we saw on the news about you seeing this girl and we thought we might get in the way. Please give us a chance champ. If not for my sake for your mom’s, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve found her crying for you, and I was the cause. Please.”

Dylan stood and marched up the aisle a bit and ran her fingers through her dark hair.

“How do I know this isn’t just a rouse to see your granddaughter?”

Dylan you know what kind of person I am. I’m a straight up and down kind of guy like you. I believe in doing the right thing, in looking out for your family, working hard and never breaking my word. I give you my word your mom, and I, want to be back in your life as parents and as grandparents. We want to support you through this time, and when that young lady gets better, spend time getting to know you all better than we do now.”

Tommy stood and held out her hand to Dylan. Can I trust you dad? What would Emmie say? She always thought the best of people. I know what she would say.

Dylan took her Dad’s hand and shook it firmly “Okay we’ll try.”

Tears ran down Tommy’s face, and when he opened his arms to his daughter she put up her hand and said, “One step at a time okay? We have a lot of trust to make up.”

“I promise you champ. I’m going to prove to you that you can trust me.”

“Well, if we take it slowly we’ll see. Where is Mom?”

“Out in the car waiting.”

“Okay, go and get her. I’d like to see her.”

“Sure kid. Thank you so much for giving me a chance.”

As Tommy walked off Dylan thought, I hope so Dad because I can’t take anymore.

****

Patricia Morgan looked up at her tall daughter and held her face in her hands. Tears of joy ran down her face. “I’m so sorry my darling. I should have never let your father keep us apart.”

“It was a difficult time mom. Let’s just move forward.” Dylan wiped the tears from her mother’s eyes. She was just so happy to be in the arms of the only woman, apart from Emily, who could give her comfort.

Patricia gathered herself and said, “So tell us about this young woman of yours?”

“Emily is the most incredible person, and I can’t wait to be married to her but . . .she’s awful sick. I . . .need to get back to her. Would you like to come and meet her?”

“That would be wonderful darling girl.” Dylan put her arm round her mother’s shoulder and placed a kiss to her auburn hair.

Tommy had held back allowing mother and daughter to have some time together, but Dylan inclined her head toward him and said, “Dad, would you like to meet my Emily?”

Tommy nodded and followed behind the two women, just grateful to be given a chance.

****

Dylan led her parents down to the hospital room. Lynn met them outside the door and looked shocked as to whom Dylan was with.

Dylan gave Lynn a look of mock anger and said, “I hear you have been in contact with my parents for a while?”

“Dylan, I was going to tell you. I just didn’t want to add to your burden at the moment.”

Dylan held her hands and smiled. “Don’t worry we sorted things out, although I think we have to talk about security. My dad got past them no problem. Lynn let me introduce you to my parents Tommy and Patricia.”

“It’s nice to finally meet you Lynn, and please call me Pattie.”

“Nice to meet you both.”

With the introductions complete, Dylan took her parents into the room.

Pattie gave a gasp when she saw Emily. The pictures she had seen on television had shown a young woman full of life, not this badly injured person she saw before her.

Dylan grabbed a seat for her mother and put it beside her own. “Mom, Dad, this is Emily Taylor my fiancée and soon to be your daughter in law.”

Pattie watched her daughter hold tightly onto the young woman’s hand and saw in that moment how desperately she loved her.

“Oh my darling, this must be such a difficult time for you. What do the doctors say?”

“They’ve done everything they can, she just needs to wake up now, and she will. I know it!”

Tommy, who had been quiet since entering room, came behind his daughter and put a comforting arm on her shoulder.

“Tell me you beat the crap out of that woman before she took a bullet and got the easy way out?”

Dylan turned in her seat and met her father’s eyes. “I took care of it.” Tommy knew without asking that more went on in that cabin than the press were saying, and knew that he would have done the same.

“Well done champ. I know it’s been hard but your mom and I are here to support you now, and I don’t know Emily yet but I’ve seen that little girl of yours on TV, and I’m sure she will fight with all she has to stay here with her, and you.”

“Thanks Dad.”

After a while, Tommy went in search of coffee for them all, leaving Dylan and Pattie alone.

“I’m so sorry I didn’t get through to him sooner Dylan.”

“Everyone was hurting mom, and we all know dad is stubborn.”

Pattie snorted. “Stubborn as an old goat! I always watched your show you know. I recorded it and watched it while he was at work. I want you to know I’m so proud of all you have achieved and the family you’ve made. I saw the interview you did with Emily and Molly. Emily seems to be a lovely young woman, and Molly looks like a little darling.”

“Emily is my life mom. I have never met anyone more loving, more nurturing or compassionate in my life. She is the love of my life.”

“I can’t wait to meet her properly.”

Dylan stared blankly ahead. “What if she doesn’t wake up mom?”

Pattie covered her daughters hand with her own. “Don’t even think about it. You have to have faith my darling girl. Tell me about my granddaughter, from what I’ve seen on TV, she looks just like you did when you were a little girl.”

Dylan laughed. “Emmie says she acts like me too. A little tomboy that’s into everything! But her goodness is all Emmie. She is a beautiful little girl inside and out. ”

“Your dad and I have missed out on so much.” Pattie said sadly.

“Yes mom, so had I. I missed three years out of her life. I was just trying to make up for it when this happened.”

“Where is she now?”

I think it’s time to put this family back together. Thought Dylan.

She turned to face her Mother and said, “She is back at the hotel being looked after by our friends . . . Would you like to meet her mom?”

Renewed tears flowed from Pattie’s eyes. “Oh I’d love that! So would your father.”

“Okay come back tomorrow morning. Molly will be here to visit with me. I’ll introduce you then. She needs all the family and love she can get just now.”

“Thank you Dylan. Thank you so much for giving us another chance.”

****

Jackson watched Rosie play on the floor with Molly, with a look of adoration on her face. Buoyed by Dylan’s words to her at the hospital, she was determined to win Rosie’s love. She had brought The pair back to the hotel earlier after Molly had visited with her two moms.

Rosie looked up and caught her looking, luckily before she needed to explain herself, her cell phone rang.

Jackson took the opportunity to step out the room leaving Rosie wondering what Jackson had been thinking about.

“Wosie?”

“Yes honey?”

“At my mom on da phone? She come get me?”

Rosie felt desperately sorry for the little girl. She had been put through so much for one so young, compared to other kids her age. Molly didn’t understand why her mama wouldn’t wake up and why she couldn’t stay with her mom at the hospital. There had been more than one tantrum, when it was time to leave her mom’s and she had to bring Molly back to the hotel. Rosie tried her best to be as honest as she could be.

“I’m not sure Molls. Let’s wait and see what Jackson says. When Jackson came back in the room, she looked unsure of what to say in front of the little girl.

Rosie mouthed the words. “Is it bad news?”

Jackson shook her head and said. “Molly that was your mom calling. She said she has a special surprise for you when you go to the hospital tomorrow.”

“Mama wake up?”

Jackson sighed. “No, not yet. I’m sorry Molls, but she does have some people for you to meet. Your mom wants me to bring you first thing in the morning, so you better get to bed.”

Molly looked at Rosie unconvinced. “Come on Molly, the quicker you go to sleep the quicker you can see your moms.”

“Ou read me a story?”

Rosie lifted the little girl and placed a kiss on her head. “Sure thing kiddo. Now say goodnight to Jackson.”

“Nigh nigh Dackson!” Molly puckered up her lips waiting for a kiss. Rosie chuckled at the soldiers normally unflappable demeanor, shaken up by a little girl. “Eh . . .em . . .Goodnight Molls.” Jackson stumbled over her words and gave Molly a quick kiss.

She is so sweet when she like this. When she drops that stupid I’m in command attitude. Thought Rosie.

Just as, she and Molly were entering the bedroom, Jackson said, “Rosie! Eh . . .would you like me to get some room service sent up for dinner while you put Molly to bed? Eh . . .that is if you’d like to join me for dinner?”

“Sure. That would be lovely. Go ahead and order, I’m sure you know what I like soldier boy.”

Rosie gave her a mischievous smile then disappeared inside the bedroom. Jackson gulped hard.

Oh god I want her so much!

****

After finally getting Molly, to sleep Rosie returned to the living area of the suite. She was hungry and looking forward to some food. Rosie entered the room to find the hotel staff setting up a table with food under silver platters and wine chilling in a cooler. Why have you gone to all this trouble?

Rosie stood nervously by the table as Jackson tipped the bell boy and shut the door.

Jackson caught the look of confusion on the younger woman’s face.

“I hope you like this. Sit down please.”

“I was expecting Sandwiches and soup. This looks really expensive.”

Jackson pulled out Rosie’s chair, and began to pour the wine.

“Don’t worry. I took care of it. I thought you deserved something nice. You just dropped everything and came up here, I know looking after Molly hasn’t been easy. Eh . . . I would have taken you out, but I don’t think that’s really on at the moment. Luckily this hotel has a five star restaurant.”

After pouring the wine Jackson took the silver lid off the serving dish. “I hope you like this. I don’t know too much about vegetarian food, but I thought pasta would be safe. I remembered you said you love cheesecake as well.”

Jackson are you trying to impress me?

“What are you having?”

Jackson took her seat across from Rosie. “The same as you.”

“But you love meat! Have you ever had a vegetarian meal before?”

“Well no, but I didn’t want to put you off your meal by having a massive slab of meat. I’m sure it’ll be great. Oh! I nearly forgot the salad. Here you go.”

Oh no! Don’t be sweet Jack! I can’t resist you when you’re sweet!

Rosie took her first bite of pasta. “Wow! This is delicious!”

Jackson face beamed. “Really? That’s great. I hoped it would be okay.”

An awkward silence fell over the table as both women realized this felt like a date.

“So . . .what was the phone call about?”

“Oh, Dylan’s mom and dad turned up at the hospital. They hadn’t spoken in years, but them seem to have made up because Dylan wants Molly to meet them tomorrow morning.”

“Well that’s great. Dylan needs as much support as she can get. She’s so lost without Emily.”

“Yes I know.”

They ate on in silence. What surprised Rosie was how comfortable she was just sitting here with Jackson in quiet companionship, but she wanted to know more about her.

“Tell me about your job. Must be exciting, traveling all over the world with the rich and famous?”

“I suppose you might think that. It’s just something I’m good at. I have an office in New York and the apartment, but mostly I live out of a suitcase. I can be off at a moment’s notice to the other side of the world. It’s a demanding job.”

“I guess you don’t have time to keep up with friends. Where will you work after this job is finished?”

Do you want to know if I’m staying around?

“I’ll stay as long as Dylan and Emily need me. The threat might be gone, but they are my friends now, and they are going to be inundated with attention. I want to help, and I’ll stay until they feel secure, but after that, it will be time to move on.”

Rosie dropped her fork onto her plate making a loud clatter. The thought of not seeing Jackson around made her feel physical hurt.

She stood up abruptly and said, “I’m really full, I think I’ll pass on the cheesecake and head to bed.”

Jackson stood and came round to face her quickly. “But . . .Did I say something?”

“No, of course not. I’m just tired.”

Jackson knew Rosie was upset, but didn’t know what to say to make it better. Acting purely on instinct Jackson pulled Rosie towards her and placed a tender kiss to her lips. At first Rosie’s lips were stiff and did not respond, but after the initial shock her mouth softened and allowed Jackson’s tongue to gently enter her mouth. The last time they had kissed it had been hard, passionate and raw, but this time Jackson wanted to show Rosie all the love in her heart. She pulled away leaving Rosie her eyes still closed and breathless. Jackson whispered. “I love you hippy girl.”

The young woman’s eyes opened instantly, but she remained silent.

Jackson searched Rosie’s eyes for a reaction but saw only confusion. Then her love pulled away and hurried to the bedroom.

Left alone with the remnants of their romantic meal, Jackson thought, You idiot! What did you say that for? You’ve frightened her off for good now!

On the other side of the bedroom door, Rosie stood in shock. She touched her lips were Jackson had kissed her. She loves me? Does she mean it though? You heard her, she moves around all the time. She’s going to leave you eventually. I love you too Jack. She couldn’t say the words out loud, but at last she had admitted she loved Jackson Hunter.

****

The meeting between Molly and her new grandparents could not have gone better. Just as the little girl had with Dylan, Molly embraced her new family. She spent the morning going from cuddling on her grandmas knee to playing with her grandpa, and Pattie and Tommy loved every minute of it.

“Up pease grandpa!” Molly had discovered that much like her with her Mom, she could have the rough and the tumble play she loved from her grandpa.

As usual Dylan had not moved from Emily’s side just waiting for any sign that she would wake up, Pattie who was sitting beside her daughter said. “Do you think they’re being a bit loud? Your dad could take her out for a walk if you like?”

“No Mom. I want Emmie to hear how much she has to wake up for.”

Pattie sighed. Her daughter looked ill. She was gaunt and had barely eaten. If Emily didn’t waken up soon, Pattie feared for her daughters sanity.

****

Emily became aware of noises in the darkness, just out of reach. Instinctively she knew she had to fight to open her eyes. Why, she couldn’t quite remember. The noises turned into voices.

They are waiting for you to wake up. Who?

Her whole body felt heavy as she tried to make herself move. Her eyelids seemed glued shut as she tried to open them up. It was like being in a waking dream, wanting to move and being unable.

The voices separate out. One voice was high, and one was low. The low deep voice made her feel excited, safe and warm. Then she heard it. Wake up Emmie. I love you.

She knew she had to wake up for this voice, she knew she would do anything for this voice, and so Emily put all her strength into opening her heavy eyes.

****

Jackson stood against the wall and watched Rosie sit with Dylan and Emily. Pattie and Tommy had taken Molly out for some lunch at the hospital cafeteria, they had wanted to take her out somewhere, but Jackson and Dylan had said there was no way they would get by the front door. The press and TV people were camped out permanently at the front door.

Jackson had woken Rosie and Molly early this morning and had breakfast with them, before bringing them over to the hospital. All that time, Rosie and said nothing about the night before. Nothing about the kiss or Jackson’s declaration of love. Whenever she had tried to talk to her, Rosie would talk to Molly.

Why did you even tell her that you loved her! She obviously doesn’t care. Of course, she doesn’t care, she hates everything about you. Too butch, a soldier and a million other things. Fuck sake Hunter! You keep women at bay for all of your adult life, only to tell some hippy, vegetarian yoga freak that you love her! What is wrong with you!

Suddenly Dylan jumped up.

“She moved! She moved her hand!”

Jackson rushed over and saw Emily’s fingers moving, and then the young woman began to cough and choke on the tube placed down her throat.

“Emmie! What’s wrong!” All at once the room became alive with medical personnel. The Doctor and nurses pushed passed Dylan and started to work on Emily.

“Ms Morgan. Please wait outside.”

“What’s happening? Tell me!”

The doctor was too busy to reply, and Dylan was becoming increasing frantic. She grabbed him by the scrub shirt and lifted him clear of Emily.

“Tell me what the fuck is going on!”

“Jackson do something!” Rosie cried.

Jackson pulled Dylan off the doctor and began to drag her out. “Come on boss! Calm down and let them work.”

When Dylan struggles lessened Jackson got her out into the hallway. Dylan pushed away from Jackson and thumped her fists against the wall. “What are they doing to her!”

“They are trying to help her. Just keep calm and let them.”

“She moved Jackson, I saw her move, and then she started to choke. She can’t breathe.”

Seeing Jackson floundering Rosie stopped forward and took Dylan’s hand. “Listen. Emily moved, I saw it too, but the doctors need to make sure everything’s as it should be, so you need to pull yourself together and be ready to go in and face your fiancée. I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes if she’s waiting to see you and your hauled off by security.”

Amazingly, a small smile came to Dylan’s face. “You are right. She would kick my ass big time!”

The doctor came out, and Dylan immediately apologized. “What’s happening doc? How is she?”

“She is doing well considering. Emily was starting to come round naturally, then began to choke because of the tubes. We won’t know if there is any long term damage until we do a full assessment, but she is communicating and asking for you. She will be extremely sleepy and still has a lot of healing to do and a long road ahead both physically and psychologically, but I do think she will recover. The nurses are just making her more comfortable and then you can see her.”

Dylan offered her hand. “Thank you so much doctor and I’m sorry again.”

The doctor smirked. “Don’t worry Ms Morgan, I’ve had worse. I’ll speak to you soon.”

“She’s going to be okay!” Dylan said to her two friends.

“Of course she is. You don’t think she would leave you alone for too long do you? Poor Molly would end up eating cereal for dinner.”

Dylan laughed. “You are right. Do you think you two could find Molly and my parents?”

“Sure. We’ll find them.”

“Oh and Lynn must be around here somewhere.”

“No problem.” Jackson replied.

Yes! I knew you’d come back to me Emmie!

****

Half an hour later Dylan was allowed in. She walked quietly to the side of the bed. Emily looked peaceful lying there with fewer tubes and wires coming from her. Her eyes were closed, and Dylan found herself feeling strangely nervous.

“Emmie? Are you awake?” At the sound of Dylan’s voice, Emily’s eyelids fluttered open, and her partner got to see the green eyes she had missed so much.

“H . . .ey Goofy . . .” Emily croaked.

Dylan felt such a rush of emotion at hearing her fiancée’s voice that she fell to her knees and sobbed.

“You came back to me baby girl! Thank you so much! I love you, and I’m never letting you out of my sight again. Emily used all her strength to lift her hand and stroke Dylan’s dark head.

“You think I would leave you . . .” Emily’s speech was labored and a little slurred.

“I prayed that you wouldn’t.”

Dylan watched as a thought seemed to pass through Emily’s brain and she started to panic.

“Molly! My baby! What . . .happened . . .”

“Hey, hey! Calm down Molly’s fine. She’s waiting outside to see you.”

Tears rolled down Emily’s cheeks. “She said, She said . . .”

Emily struggled to get her words out. Everything was confusing. She had to think hard about what she wanted to say. Her mind and her memory was foggy, but she didn’t forget what Toni had said about Molly.

“Take a breath and speak slowly Emmie. Who said what?”

“T . . .Toni said that Molly was dead. Drew shot her.”

Dylan felt sick at the mention of Toni’s name. Even though, she was dead, she was there, waiting in the wings. Emily would eventually have so many questions for her partner, and Dylan in turn, had so many questions to ask Emily about her time in captivity.

“Oh no baby. She’s perfectly fine. Jackson got her out without a scratch.”

“Thank God. When she said that to me, I felt like I had died inside . . .I” Emily tears came in big sobs again.

“I wish I could hold you Emmie, and I wish I had gotten to you quicker. I’m so sorry you had to go through that and hear Toni tell you those things, but I promise she can’t ever hurt you again.”

“You found me?”

Dylan nodded. “Yeah, and Jackson. I had a hunch and followed it.”

Emily looked towards the window struggling to, even discuss her former captor.

“What happened to her?”

Dylan couldn’t lie, but Emily was not ready to hear the whole truth.

“She’s dead. There was a struggle and the police arrived.” Emily simply nodded, thinking the police had shot her.

“I’m so tired Dyl. I can hardly keep my eyes open, but I want to see Molly.”

“I’ll bring her in, then you can have a sleep okay?” Dylan bent over and kissed her partner on the lips. “Be back in a minute okay? I love you baby girl.”

A few moments later an extremely quiet Molly entered the room. Emily turned her head a little and saw her little girl walk toward her, her hand bunched up at her mouth as she did when she was unsure or worried.

“It’s okay sweetie. Come see mama.”

Molly broke out into a run and threw her arms round out towards her mother.

“Careful Molly!” Dylan shouted.

“It’s okay. Give . . .me a hug.” Emily put an arm around the little girl and hugged her as tight as she could.

Molly’s bravery began to wane as she was back in her mother’s arms. Tears fell from her eyes, and she struggled to speak through the emotion of the moment.

“I miff ou mama and ou not wake up! I wanted ou to wake up mama. I ov ou.”

Dylan came to sit on the bed and rubbed Molly’s back, trying to calm her.

“I’m . . .sorry sweetie. Things will be better from now on.” Emily struggled to say. She looked up to Dylan and gave a weak smile.

“Don’t worry Molls. We’ve got mama back, and everything is going to be okay. Dylan said confidently. She could only pray that would prove true over the coming weeks and months.

****

Emily looked down at the blank page before her. Her counselor had encouraged Emily to write down her feelings, saying that to get her feelings out on paper would help clear her mind. She had put it off for weeks, but had finally acquiesced to Dylan’s continued promoting. Dylan had come home from work with a beautiful notebook she had bought and promised to keep Molly out of the way for an hour or so every evening, to give her the time. She had been staring at the page for fifteen minutes with nothing coming to mind, in frustration Emily wrote,

I don’t know what to write!!

This is supposed to be good for me, writing down my feelings. How can I write them down when my mind is such a jumble?

Every thought, every feeling whizzing around my mind so fast that I can’t catch them. Everyone wants to know how I feel. I know I feel something, I know I feel unhappy, but when I try to think hard why I feel that? All I feel is dizzy, and all I know is that everything seems black, the future the past the present. It seems like it’s raining all the time, when everyone else thinks it’s sunny.

I do know one thing though, I feel guilty. Guilty for putting Dylan and Molly through this. I know Dylan is upset. She jokes and kids around trying to make me feel better, but I know she is hurting, Dylan forgets that I can read her like a book. Funny isn’t it? I can be so in tune with her feelings and thoughts but so far away from my own. It hurts her to see me hurting, and not being able to help. Dylan thinks it was over as soon as I woke up in that hospital that I came back to her, I know I didn’t.

So, I’m unhappy. Why am I unhappy? I have recovered well physically. The physical therapist thinks I’m doing remarkably well and shouldn’t have any long term problems after my broken arm is healed, my head wound is healing nicely, but every time I look at the yellowing bruises and cut lip in the mirror, I’m back there in the cabin tied to the bed.

I have a beautiful daughter who is everything to me, although she clings to me all the time frightened I’ll disappear again. I’m getting married to my perfect woman, the woman whom I have always dreamed of. We are financially secure and know there is nothing that we will not be able to do in life, and we are moving into my dream house, I now have an extended family, with Dylan reconciling with her parents, the list goes on . . .and yet it’s still raining.

Pattie and Tommy have done more than they should to help with Molly while I have been recuperating. It was Molly’s birthday when I was in hospital, and Pattie made a cake, and they both organized presents for us, to make sure she didn’t miss out. They must wonder why their daughter got involved with someone like me.

I have the comfort of our good friends Jackson and Rosie, Jackson says she will stay on until I feel safe in the house. Something else I have to feel guilty about. Now the threat is dead, Jackson should be off safeguarding the great and the good. Instead, she is left babysitting me because I am frightened of my own shadow. I stay in our apartment twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. I feel trapped in these walls but at the same time safe in my little cocoon, safe from the terrors of the outside world beyond our front door.

I’m angry that Toni is dead and yet still haunts my thoughts and haunts my relationship with Dylan. She seems to feel guilty for that time, she doesn’t want to talk about what happened when she found me. All she wanted to know is that Toni didn’t rape me. She didn’t get the chance as much as she wanted to, but why do I still feel violated?

I’m pushing Dylan away, and that’s what terrifies me the most. She isn’t pushing in the slightest, but we haven’t been intimate since this all happened. She says she doesn’t care and just wants to hold me until I feel better, but sometimes if she’s half asleep during the night and touches me, I pull away in panic. Dylan has woken in the morning, quite a few times to find me sleeping on the couch. I try and cover up by saying I got up in the night for a snack and fell asleep, I know she doesn’t believe me. I’m hurting her and pushing her away, and at the same time pulling her towards me, smothering her. She is the only one I feel safe with. The worst was when she had to go back to work. The network had been terrific about it, but she had to go back sometime.

I panic every time she goes to work, not only because I want the safety her presence brings me but because I’m worried I’ll push her into the arms of another. Deep down I know Dylan would not betray our love, but in my mixed up jealous mind, I have her having an affair with every beautiful female guest on her show. She works with a lot of beautiful people, a lot of women who would like what I have and would give her less grief than I have. My jealously and unhappiness seem to spill into anger all the time. I shout at her for the least thing, and all I’m honestly feeling inside is pain. I’m going to push her into someone else’s arms, I’m sure of it, and it makes me feel so scared. I love her. She is my soul mate.

And still it rains . . .

****

Tommy and Pattie Morgan found their daughter and granddaughter watching TV in the family room.

“Dylan? The kitchen is all tidy now, would you like me to give Molly her bath? I thought it would give Emily more time to herself. She seems to be actually getting some writing done.”

After Emily got out of hospital Dylan, had asked her mom and dad to come stay with them for a few weeks, to help out Emily, to get to know their granddaughter and to try and work on forgiving them.

Forgiving her mom was simple, she loved Tommy dearly, and found it much easier to go along with his view on things as she found it hard to make her voice heard, but she had obviously grown some teeth since they had been apart, and Dylan loved having the care and attention of her mother back in her life. It was harder with Tommy. They were so much alike in so many ways, stubborn and pig headed among them. They had a lot to work on, but Dylan wanted to try, she didn’t want to waste the chance of Emily and Molly having a family around them, for the sake of her not being able to forgive.

“That would be great mom. Come on Molls, go with grandma and get your bath. I’ll be in for your story.”

“Otay mom. And ma, I show you my boats!”

“Come on then dear.”

After Molly had skipped out of the room with Pattie, Tommy and Dylan were left in an uncomfortable silence.

“Do you want a real drink dad?”

“Eh . . .oh sure, that would be great.”

Dylan got up to get the drinks and said, “Take a seat. You still a bourbon man?”

“Sure am kid.” Tommy sat down, and Dylan brought over the drinks.

Tommy took the drink swirled it in his glass. “Uh . . .thanks for letting your mom be so involved with Molly. She is loving having a grandchild, well we both do. It can’t have been easy having us back in your life.”

Dylan sighed and took a sip of her bourbon. “I won’t lie to you dad, we have a lot of things to work on, and trust to build up, but I honestly couldn’t have coped without both of you. Jackson and Rosie have done so much and been really supportive, but they have lives and can’t be here twenty four hours a day. The way Emmie has been, I couldn’t have gone back to work.”

Tommy clapped her on the back and said. “It’s what family is for, I know I’ve made mistakes, but we’re going to be there to support you from now on. We haven’t known Emily that long, but she seems a remarkable young woman, and she’s come through a lot.”

“She is the most wonderful and caring woman I have ever met, but she’s hurting so badly, and I don’t know what to do to help her. I feel guilty every time I go to work, she doesn’t say anything, but I know she’s happier when I’m in the house.”

“Don’t ever feel guilty for going to work and providing for your family kid. Emily will understand.”

Dylan downed the rest of her drink and immediately stood to refill it. “She’s so quiet, we used to talk all the time. When she looks at me, I can see so much going on in her head, but when I ask what’s wrong, she says nothing. She won’t go out, when I suggest going out for a walk with Molly and Jackson while I’m out, she says her head hurts.” Dylan flopped down on the couch.

“What am I supposed to do Dad? How can I make it better?”

“You do what you are doing. Take care of her and be there when she’s ready to talk. The mind is a strange thing kid. After your mom had you, she had a difficult time with post natal depression.”

Dylan looked at her dad with shock on her face. “I never knew that.”

Tommy smiled. “We’ll it’s not quite something you talk about to your kids, and back then it wasn’t talked about in public the way it is now. It was a hard time for her, and I had no idea what to do, and it seemed like I couldn’t do right for doing wrong.”

“What happened?”

“I helped as much as I could do with you, so she could have some time to herself, and just listened to her. We got through it together eventually.

When Emily’s ready to talk she will. Don’t take anything to heart that she says. It’s only the pain talking.”

“Thanks Dad.”

“Do you want us to stay longer? I can put off . . .”

“No dad it’s fine.”

Pattie and Tommy had planned to head home for a few days, Tommy badly needed to check on the dojang and Pattie had a church commitment.

“You’ve neglected work enough. Emmie has Jackson, and I think she is going to invite Rosie over.”

Tommy stood and said. “We’ll, I think I’ll go and read for a bit and wait for your mom.”

“Night dad.” Dylan took another long sip of the warm amber liquid.

Tommy looked on as his daughter drained her second drink. She’s been doing that a lot lately.

“Kid, don’t lose yourself in that stuff. They are never any answers at the bottom of a glass.”

“I know. It’s to help me relax.”

“Hmm. Goodnight then champ.”

****

Dylan walked in trepidation to the bedroom. She was never sure what mood she would find Emily in.

The light was on in the bedroom, but Emily looked as if she was sleeping.

“Emmie You awake?”

“Yes.” Came the strained one word reply.

“Oh okay, I’ll leave the light on till I get changed then.”

After a long silence Dylan said, “How did you get on with your diary?”

“I got some things down. At least I have something to show my counsellor on Monday.”

“Great!” Emily knew Dylan was trying to be overly cheerful as usual, but a little thought had started to work over in her mind today, and she couldn’t help but bring it up.

“How was work?”

“Really good. We got a lot done.”

Dylan got into bed and waited to see if Emily would come to her for comfort. She was never sure which Emily she was going to bed with these days.

Emily went into her partners arms and rested her head on Dylan’s chest.

“How was it working with Annie again?”

Annie Gates was a well known stand up comedian, who had been playing the clubs at the same time as Dylan had been. They had been work colleagues and friends, but Dylan had spoken so warmly about her that Emily began to convince herself there was something between the two women.

“Great, just like old times. Were on the same page with sketches and stuff, and work well together, so I think it’ll be a funny show.”

Dylan felt Emily stiffen in her arms, and turn away from her. What did I do or say now?

“What’s wrong baby girl?”

“Nothing I’m just more comfortable sleeping this way.”

Dylan didn’t buy it, but to save an argument just said, “Okay then. Sleep well Emmie.”

Staring at the ceiling Dylan thought. I should have had that other drink!

What Dylan couldn’t see were the tears falling silently from her fiancée’s eyes.

****

Emily found herself tied up and back in the bedroom of Toni’s cabin.

“Noo! Not again! I got away!”

Suddenly there was the voice she dreaded. “You’ll never be away from me baby boo.” Toni sat on the bed and pointed to her head. “I’m in here boo, and I’m never going away.”

“No, I love Dylan, you can’t get me!”

“Morgan? Huh! Your precious Dylan is sick of your sniveling and whining. Come and I’ll show you.”

Suddenly her restraints were gone, and they were standing in front of Dylan’s office door at the studio. Emily tried to pull away, fearful at what she would find behind the door, but Toni held her tight and said, “Here’s what your knight in shining armor has been up to at work!”

The door opened and revealed Annie gates, naked from the waist up, sat in Dylan’s lap kissing her passionately. Dylan’s hands squeezed Annie breasts, and she moaned, “Oh fuck Annie, I missed you. I can’t tell you how much I need this. Emily won’t let me touch her.”

“Shh! Don’t talk about her sexy. Just fuck me!”

“No! No!” Emily screamed.

Dylan looked up, “Emily!”

“Let me handle this Dylan.” Annie turned and smirked at Emily. “I think it’s time you go back to the diner sweetheart!”

Dylan and Annie burst out laughing, Toni joined them, and Emily clamped her hands to her ears. “Stop laughing at me! Stop! Stop”

Emily sat bolt up in bed gasping for breath. “It was a dream, It was a dream!”

Dylan was wakened by Emily’s thrashing around. She watched her fiancée bolt from the bed toward the bathroom, and then heard the sound of retching from behind the door.

“Fuck!” Dylan burst through the bathroom door to find Emily weeping uncontrollably. She gathered her fiancée in her arms and tried to soothe her. “Come on Emmie, it was just a bad dream. I’m here, and you’re safe. No one can hurt you with me around.”

“I need you Dyl, I need you, I need you.” She repeated over and over like a mantra.

“You’ve got me. I’m not going anywhere.”

“You . . .could find . . .better.’ Emily mumbled through the tears.

Dylan took her fiancée’s face in her hands, and forced Emily to look in her eyes. “Don’t you dare say that! You are the love of my life and the Mother of my child. There is no one else in this universe better for me. You’re just struggling with things at the moment, but it will get better, I promise. Tomorrow, I’m going to phone your counselor and ask how we can make things better for you. I’m not taking a back seat on this anymore. I know you find it hard to talk about what happened, but we are going to sort this out, you hear me?”

Emily nodded meekly. Dylan lifted her from the floor and carried her back to bed. Once Emily was safely tucked up in her arms, she heard her fiancée’s breathing even out into sleep. “I love you baby girl, and you are never getting rid of me.”

****

The next morning Dylan woke to the feeling of Emily’s gentle kisses on her hard abdominal muscles. She moaned softly as she felt the kisses travel up to her lips. Dylan opened her eyes slowly, her body on fire with want. “Emmie what are you doing?” She groaned.

Emily was shaking inside at the thought of intimacy so soon after her experiences with Toni, but knew if she could stay in control, she might manage to please her partner.

“I want you to make love to me honey, I want you to feel good.” Emily said, kissing her passionately on the mouth.

Dylan knew this wasn’t right, with Emily’s body and mind still struggling to recover and after the events of last night. She held her partner by the shoulders, stopping her in her tracks.

“Emmie is this a good idea? So soon?”

Emily’s face crumpled. “It’s because I look hideous isn’t it? But I promise my bruises will be gone soon, and my arm . . .” The tears started to tumble from Emily’s eyes.

Fuck Morgan! You always say the wrong thing!

“No! No baby, I don’t mean it like that. You are beautiful!” Dylan rolled them over so she could simply kiss Emily’s tears away. “I just meant after last night and everything, your maybe not ready. I want it to be right for you, for us.”

Dylan leant down to kiss her, and Emily immediately stiffened. Now here on her back with her partner over her, she felt trapped, the walls closing in on her.

Dylan pulled back to give her room to breathe. “I’m sorry, I was just going to kiss you that’s all.”

“No, I’m sorry. You shouldn’t have to deal with this, you should have a normal woman who can make love whenever you want.”

“Emmie I . . .”

Emily jumped up and put on her robe. “No, you don’t need to say anything, I promise I will work extra hard with my counselor and get better for you honey. I’ll go and get your protein shake ready while you get ready to work out.”

Before Dylan got a chance to say anything, Emily was off and out of the room, leaving Dylan dumbfounded.

“What the hell just happened? And why does she think I’m desperate for sex all of a sudden?”

****

Later, while Dylan worked out with Jackson, Emily was in the kitchen with her mother in law to be, cooking breakfast. Emily watched Pattie fix Molly some juice. She had thought she would feel some resentment toward Dylan’s mom and dad, after how they had hurt her, but they had been terrific with Molly and herself, trying to do everything they could to help. She liked Pattie, she cared for Dylan and was being a fantastic grandma. Tommy was so much like Dylan in both body and personality, and Molly treated him much as she did her mom, like her play buddy.

After her horrific dream last night and the incident this morning, she felt this incredible urge to do everything she could to be the perfect partner, making Dylan never want to leave her.

Emily was determined to make things right, whether she felt mentally well or not.

“Emily? Emily?” Pattie asked, trying to get her attention.

“Oh sorry. I was lost there.”

“Are you sure your alright dear? Dylan said you had a difficult night. If you want some more rest, I could handle breakfast for you.”

“No, no I’m okay. I want to have everything just right for Dylan before she goes to work. She doesn’t like it if she thinks I’m upset. Would you mind doing the bacon and eggs though? It’s a little difficult with this cast on.”

Pattie looked at her quizzically. “Of course dear. You just tell me what needs doing, and I’ll do it.”

Something is not right with you young Emily. Yesterday you are shutting everyone out, and now you are playing the perfect little housewife.

****

“Ugh! Take it easy Dylan! You’re going to mess up my good looks.” Jackson said after her body was smashed onto the mat for the third time.

They had been training for an hour using weights and were finishing with a quick sparring session. In all they’re time training together, Jackson had never felt Dylan be as aggressive as she was this morning.

“I’m sorry buddy, I got carried away. Here let me help you up.”

Jackson took her friends hand and was pulled to her feet. “You have a rough night with Emily?”

Dylan nodded sadly.

Jackson put her hand on Dylan’s shoulder. “Let’s take a break and get some water. Come on, talk to me.”

Dylan slumped down onto the bench at the side of the mats and took a long drink. “So? Talk to me my friend.”

“We’ll, she was just quiet last night, like she has been. You know she won’t talk about stuff? I don’t think she’s talking much to her councilor either. I don’t think she feels comfortable with him. She did start to write her diary like he asked, but that was only after I continually asked her too. It seemed to make her worse, she woke up from a terrible nightmare. She was screaming and crying, I . . .didn’t know what to do, and then she bolted to the bathroom and was sick. I just held her, it was all I could do. She won’t tell me what it was about, but I can guess it was about the cabin, she was terrified.”

Jackson felt terrible that there wasn’t more she could do for her friends. It was heartbreaking to see Dylan, a normally tough, strong woman, emotionally overwhelmed. Dylan jumped up and walked to the window, trying not to show Jackson the tears that were forming in her eyes.

“How is she this morning?” Asked Jackson.

Dylan having got herself under control turned round to face her friend. “That’s the strange thing. After that horrific night she woke up . . .eh . . ..kissing me and wanting to make love. I mean you’ve seen her injuries and state of mind she’s in? It wouldn’t be right. She’s not ready yet, and I don’t want her to do it for the wrong reasons, especially after what Toni tried to do to her.”

“Maybe she wants to feel like things are going back to normal?”

“Maybe, but when I said I didn’t think it was a good idea, she burst into tears thinking I didn’t find her attractive anymore. It seems like I can’t say anything right.”

“Is she okay now?”

“No, I don’t think so, but she pretending she is. It’s as if she’s trying to please me, being overly attentive. Normally she will see to Molly and get the breakfast going but on top of that she’s been rushing about getting me everything I normally get for myself. As soon as I go to get something, she’s either done it or handing it to me. It’s a bit freaky.” Dylan took a long drink from her water.

“Sounds as if she’s insecure, frightened that you’ll get fed up waiting for her to get better.”

“She’s got to know I would never leave her! She’s my life.”

“I know that, but didn’t the doctors say that she could suffer with some emotional outbursts for a time? Because of her injury? And imagine how bad she feels not only at the traumatic event she went through, but also you both had to cancel the wedding. It meant everything to her and now it seems forever away I’m sure.”

“Yeah I guess so.” Dylan said hopelessly.

Jackson thought carefully. Should I bring this up?

” Em . . .listen, If you think this other counselor isn’t working then I have a suggestion.”

Jackson looked incredibly uncomfortable, and Dylan wondered what on earth she was going to suggest. “What is it?”

“We’ll . . .um . . .this is extremely embarrassing. I’ve never told anyone this, and I wouldn’t like it repeated.”

“Buddy, you have my word.” Jackson knew what Dylan’s word meant to her.

“Well, when my sister was killed in action, I was in a pretty bad way. I . . .was put on medical leave because I wasn’t coping too well, you know, mentally. My unit commander put me in touch with this councilor who had helped him in the past. She’s called . . ..Rain . . .”

“Rain? You, Jackson Hunter went to a counselor called Rain?” Dylan didn’t want to make too much fun of Jackson since she was opening up to her, but felt a gentle ribbing was in order.

“Yeah, yeah, just don’t tell Rosie whatever you do, I’ll never hear the end of it!”

“Okay, I won’t. Tell me about her.”

“She’s different. A bit of a maverick. Not like any psychotherapist I’ve ever come across. She looks at things in a different way and truly helped me.”

“I’ll try and talk to Emmie about it thanks. Listen, I appreciate you staying on like this. I know it’s not much fun at the moment, and Emily won’t even go out . . .”

Jackson stood and offered a hand to her friend. “Don’t worry about it. I want to help, you guys are my friends. I’m sure Emily will pick up soon, and anyway I’m getting through some neglected paperwork while I’m using your office. Go to work and everything will be fine here.”

Dylan let herself be pulled to her feet. “Thanks buddy. It’s a weight off my mind knowing your here.”

****

Later, after having a breakfast together Dylan’s mom and dad left for home, leaving Molly and Emily alone. Jackson had spent the morning doing paperwork leaving Emily to play with Molly. They had been painting at the kitchen table, Molly taking much delight in making some Christmas pictures with her ever present penguin stinky close beside her. Dylan only had another week of shows until she was off for the Christmas shutdown, but the thought of it was making Emily depressed.

It was supposed to be so perfect. Our wedding to look forward to, then our first family Christmas. Thought Emily. Instead, I’m making everyone miserable.

She looked over to the cupboard that held her backing supplies. I should be getting the food planned and organized.

But as she flexed her hand, the pain in her wrist brought a flashback to her mind. She jumped up and grasped the back of the chair, feeling dizzy.

“Ou Otay mama?” Molly was worried for her mama all the time. Although she had no idea what her mother had gone through, she knew someone had stolen her mother, and she had come back to them upset and hurt.

“Of course sweetie. Just stood up too fast. I’ll just get a glass of water.”

Emily’s hand shook as she opened a bottle of water from the fridge. Emily looked down at her worried little girls face and put on her best smile. “Mama’s fine sweetie.”

Molly seemed to accept this and went back to her picture. A few minutes later Emily heard, “Hi Mom! Hi Mom! Dat my Mom stinky.” Molly said proudly to her little friend.

Emily smiled, she heard this a lot when Dylan was on TV, usually an advert for the show on a talk show she had been on. She looked up at the TV on the kitchen wall to see what the advert was for. It had been a lifestyle magazine show she had on in the background, but it seemed to have moved on to a celebrity gossip show.

Video of Dylan moved onto pictures of her with Emily while the host said, After rescuing her fiancée in dramatic fashion, you would think life would go back to normal for the couple and their child, but reports from sources close to the couple say otherwise. It is believed that Emily Taylor is suffering severe emotional trauma and has cancelled their wedding. Relations between the TV star and her fiancée seem to have broken down, and Dylan is finding solace in the arms of her old friend, Annie Gates. The pair met on the comedy circuit before they made it big and are rumored to have had a relationship. Annie is appearing on The Dylan Morgan show this week, and insiders say they have been inseparable. They were pictured looking very close leaving the studio yesterday.

A still photo was put on screen. It showed Dylan and Annie coming out of the studio buildings. The pair were laughing, and Dylan appeared to have her hand on the small of Annie’s back.

Is this the end of a fairytale? Or will Dylan stay for the sake of her child? We wish them well. Next on Entertainment . . .

The TV show went to the ad break, and Jackson entered the kitchen to find Emily staring up at the TV screen, tears slowly rolling down her cheeks.

Emily what’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“I’m . . .I’m okay, I just need to call Dylan. Can you keep an eye on Molly?”

Jackson placed a hand on her shoulder. “Of course, whatever you need.”

Emily rushed out the kitchen, her stomach churning and her heart beating out of her chest.

She went to their bedroom and dialed Dylan’s cell phone. As it rang she stared at the photo of them by her bedside, Intellectually her mind knew that it was all made up nonsense, but somewhere deep inside, where her insecurities were, she was terrified it was true.

Oh, please honey. Please make this not be true! You just need to hear her voice!

The first time she called it rang out and went straight to voice mail, causing Emily’s unease to intensified.

On the second ring, Dylan answered. “Hello?”

“Hi it’s me.”

Dylan could tell from her fiancée’s tone of voice something was wrong. “Emmie what’s wrong?”

“Why does anything have to be wrong? I just wanted to talk to you.” Emily said in an irritated tone.

“Oh sorry baby. How are you and my little Smurf?”

“She’s fine. Painting Christmas pictures.” In the background, Emily heard a woman’s voice shout, Come Dylan! Hurry up, I need you here. Emily felt the anger rise so quickly she felt sick. She knew who that voice belonged to.

“I’m just coming Annie. Listen Emmie, I really need to go now. We’re up to our eyes in it here.”

“I bet you are. When will you be home.”

Uh oh! This doesn’t sound good! Thought Dylan.

“I might have to stay late. The sketches we have for the show just aren’t working, they’re being rewritten just now, and then we’ll have to rehearse if they are going to be ready for Friday, but Rosie’s coming over to keep you company anyway.”

“Rosie called earlier, she has to work tonight and can’t make it.”

“Oh well I’m sure Jackson will stay if you want her too.”

“Don’t treat me like an idiot Dylan Morgan! I am not fool!”

“What do you . . .” Emily cut Dylan off, her rage and insecurities finally winning over her reason.

How could she do this? I believed in you Dylan! Emily’s mind went to war with itself. What are you thinking? Dylan wouldn’t do that to you! She loves you.

Her cell phone rang out continually as Dylan tried to get back in touch with Emily.

“Shut up! Shut up!” Emily collapsed onto the bed, in fits of tears. The phone eventually stopped ringing.

****

Jackson prowled around the apartment, unsure of what to do. Dylan had called her earlier, after being unable to reach Emily on the phone. She was extremely worried about her fiancée’s mood but just couldn’t leave work. Jackson had gone to the bedroom to check on her employer, only to be told by Emily that she was okay, and to give her time to herself. True to her word, half an hour later, Emily came out to get Molly for her nap. They were both resting on Emily’s bed now, and Jackson had made sure to let Dylan know.

What will I do when they wake up? Should I pretend that nothing happened? Should I give her a hug?

All Jackson could think of when she was so emotionally unsure was Rosie. At the hospital, Rosie had supported her and talked her through that difficult time. She took out her cell and looked at the photo she had taken when Emily and Rosie had gone to choose wedding and bridesmaid dresses.

Jackson had feigned annoyance when Rosie had asked her to take a photo to show her dad, but ever since she had sent it on to Rosie, she had treasured the picture, never deleting it. The photo was all she had of Rosie, since declaring her love to the young woman in the Catskills hotel room. Since then, Rosie had said nothing about Jackson’s declaration, and whenever she saw Rosie, when she visited Emily, Rosie made sure she was never alone with Jackson.

Jackson sighed and sat down on the couch looking defeated. Why did I have to fall in love Sarah?

She silently asked her sister above.

Jackson took a deep breath and pressed the call button. It rang out a few times and went straight to voicemail.

With a sigh she hung up.

****

Dylan was not looking forward to getting home. She had been worried all day by Emily’s odd behavior, but had no choice but to stay at work late. They’d had so many problems with the sketches and had to stay until it was sorted since tomorrow was show night. Dylan had tried calling every chance she got, but Emily wouldn’t pick up, finally Lynn sent her home.

Lynn walked up to Dylan’s office with some paperwork and stopped dead when she heard a roar and something smash. Lynn ran in to find Dylan slumped at her desk, crying tears of frustration. She immediately took the tall woman into her arms and held her.

“She won’t talk to me Lynn. I don’t know what I’ve done! I’m losing my family.” Lynn looked up and observed Dylan’s smashed iPhone, which had been thrown against the wall, and a bottle of whiskey with half of it missing.

“Oh Dylan, it’s alright. You’re not losing your family. Emily is just struggling through a difficult time. I think you need to get her better help than she is getting at the moment.”

Dylan wiped her face and stood up, embarrassed at Lynn finding her in this position.

“I’m sorry . . .”

“Don’t you dare Dylan Morgan! You know you don’t have to hide yourself from me. We’ve been friends for far too long for that.”

“You’re right.” They both took a seat on the couch in her office.

“Tell me about it Dylan.”

“This morning she couldn’t do enough for me, trying to please me and stuff. Then she phoned later, just wanting to talk to me, she sounded weird then she just lost it and hung up on me. I’ve been trying to call every chance I have, but she won’t answer. I called Jackson, and she said Emmie was crying in her room. I just don’t know what to say, what to do anymore.”

Lynn took Dylan’s hand. “You both need more support than you’ve been getting. Find someone better to help Emily, I can get names of the best people in the field . . .”

“It’s okay, I’ve got someone that Jackson recommended to me. I just need to convince Emily of that.”

“Go home and talk to her. The show will come together okay. It’s nearly there already.”

Now here she was walking through her front door. She first found Jackson who looked kind of jumpy.

“Hey buddy, how is everything?”

“Um . . .she stayed in her room most of the day. I didn’t know how to make her feel better.”

Dylan sighed. “It’s okay, I’ll sort it out. You get home.”

Jackson nodded and packed up her stuff. “See you tomorrow morning. Good luck.”

Dylan saw her out and went to look in on her daughter. She hated missing story time with Molly, but it was extremely rare that she had to.

She stroked Molly’s head and gave her a gentle kiss. Happy to see her daughter sleeping soundly.

“I’m going to help mama. Don’t worry little smurf.”

When she entered the bedroom, she found Emily staring blindly at the TV on the wall.

“Hey baby girl. Em. . .how was your day.” Dylan asked, trying to sound as normal as possible.

Emily turned and looked at her fiancée with a cold stare. “Your night things are on the chair. You’re sleeping in the spare room.”

“What? What for? What did I do?”

“You have the audacity to stand there and ask me why? Get out Dylan!”

The TV star rushed over and took Emily in her arms. “Tell me. Tell me what I did to make you so upset today and I’ll fix it, but don’t make us sleep apart. I need you.”

Emily pushed Dylan away. “Get off me! You make me feel lousy about my body and sleep with some tramp, and you tell me you need me? I can smell her perfume on you. Get out!” Emily screamed. All the time she was saying these words, it was as if her true self was separated from her body somehow, watching herself act this way, and unable to stop it.

Her little voice outside shouted. What are you doing? Dylan would never cheat on you. Stop this before it’s too late!

But unfortunately for Emily, the emotionally damaged, hurt, mistrustful part of her brain was shouting louder. It had been the luxury of building up in Emily’s mind all day, bringing her to this inevitable point. You’ve seen the evidence for yourself on TV, and heard the woman calling for Dylan on the phone. Dylan is going to hurt you just like Toni. She will destroy you.

Dylan dropped to her knees in front of her fiancée. “What are you talking about? The perfume is probably Lynn’s. I never made you feel bad about your body! I adore your body!”

“You didn’t want me this morning. I’m ugly to you, and now your cheating with some woman at work while your daughter waits for you to read a story to her at home.

Dylan stopped cold. Emily’s words feeling like a punch to her guts.

“You think I’m cheating on you?”

“I don’t think, I know! I saw it on the TV today. Everyone’s talking about it, making a fool of me! They say you dated Annie back when you both worked in the village clubs, and now it’s rekindled since you’re having such a difficult time with your girlfriend!”

Dylan stood, towering over Emily, a stony look spreading across her face.

“And you believe this?”

“I heard her on the phone this morning. I was talking to you and heard her shout, “Dylan! I need you!” You think you could have tried being more discrete than that!”

Dylan walked over to the window. She said nothing and the room was eerily quiet. Inside Dylan was approaching breaking point and was seconds from going over the edge.

“I never thought you would do this. What Toni did to me!”

At the mention of Toni’s name something snapped inside Dylan, she turned round to face Emily. All the pain, the frustration, the guilt for letting Emily be taken in the first place exploded.

“Enough! I’ve fucking had enough! I’ve taken your mood swings, your anger, your pain, but now you think I’m fucking Annie? You think I would risk all this? My wife, my daughter, all for a quick fuck at the office? I’ve tried being nice, understanding, giving you time to get better but it’s not working!”

Emily was stunned into silence by Dylan’s explosion. Deep down inside, Emily knew she deserved it.

“I thought you knew me, you are the love of my life! Just because you’re not able to make love at the moment you think I’m some animal that can’t go without sex like your sick fuck of an ex! Well do you know what? You think I’m some fucking cheating scum, then that’s what I’ll be!” Dylan marched over to the chair and grabbed her jacket. She yanked the door handle and looked back at Emily with a thunderous look. “Before Toni died, she said something to me. She said that she would always be in your head, come between us. No matter what happened to her, It would never just be you and me in this relationship.” Dylan snorted. “I guess she was right.” She slammed the bedroom door, and seconds later Emily heard the front door slam.

The shock of Dylan’s outburst had brought Emily back to her senses. “What have I done?”

Episode 3

Rosie had been rushed off her feet all evening at O’Reilly’s. She had been looking forward to a night at Emily’s, but a late change in shifts had altered her plans. Rosie had hoped to be able to give up her bar work soon due to her design business taking off. Her association with her famous friends meant she was turning down work, which was fantastic as she had always tried to help her dad pay the bills. She had promised her manager another couple of weeks work, enough to train a new member of staff.

Rosie grabbed a bottle of water and said to the other server, “I’m just taking five minutes Katie.”

She took a seat at a small table next to the bar and got her phone from her apron. The young woman always put her phone to silent when she was working, but liked to check Facebook and twitter on her break. When she took it out her heart pounded. Jackson missed call , was emblazoned across the screen.

Ever since their time in the Catskills, Rosie had been doing her best to stay away from Jackson. It had become harder to deny what she was feeling for the former soldier, but then she had gone and told Rosie she loved her. The young woman had panicked and had been trying to run away from Jackson ever since.

Why her? Of all the lesbians in the world, why does it have to be her? Rosie wondered. There was one fact she was not confused about. One thing that had slowly become clear over the weeks and months she had known the ex soldier. Jackson was her one. The thing that riled Rosie the most was that her dad would love her. Her father Walter hated most of the friends she brought home mostly because of their anti war, anti military stance. Walt Henderson had served 5 years in the U.S army and was a fierce patriot. He couldn’t be more different from his free spirited, cause championing daughter, but she knew he loved her dearly. Even though he accepted she was gay, he wanted her to find someone more reliable and down to earth than the friends she hung around with. It brought a small smile to her face when she realized she had fallen in love with someone just like her dad.

Rosie’s thoughts were interrupted by Katie shouting over for her. “Rosie! Megan on the phone for you!”

Her friend worked at a gay bar down the street, but it was unusual for her to be calling O’Reilly’s when she was at work.

“Hi Meg, what’s up?”

“I thought I better call you. Your famous friend Dylan has been propping up the bar here for a couple of hours now.”

“Dylan? That’s so not like her. Is she alright?”

“Well, she’s extremely drunk, and you can guess the effect of Dylan Morgan being in a gay bar on her own. The ladies are swarming around her! She seems to want to be by herself, but I’m afraid what will happen if we end up with press here. People are already taking pictures and stuff. I think you better get someone to get her out of here before there’s trouble.”

Rosie sighed. “You’re right, try and keep her there and I’ll be there soon. Thanks Meg.”

“No problem.”

Rosie hung up the phone and took out her cell phone. No! I can’t call Emily, she’s stressed enough as it is! Think!

She pressed the speed dial and called the only person she could think of to help.

“Hunter.”

“Um . . .Hi . . .it’s Rosie.”

Jackson was immediately on alert. Rosie never called her.. “Rosie? Are you alright? Is there something wrong?”

“We’ll, I need your help, but it’s not me. Are you at home?”

“Yes, what’s wrong?” A sudden thought flashed across Rosie mind. Maybe she’s not alone. The thought of someone being with there with Jackson made her stomach hurt.

“Am I . . . interrupting something . . .?”

“No, why would you be interrupting something?”

“I just thought . . .no, it doesn’t matter. Um could you come down and get me at the bar? My friend, who works at the bar down the street from here, called to say Dylan’s in there, really drunk and still drinking. I’m worried about her, Meg says the women are all over her. If the press or Emily hear about this, it’s just not like her.”

Rosie heard Jackson sigh. “I was worried something like this was going to happen. Emily was in a bad way today, and Dylan looked to be nearing breaking point. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Wait inside for me. It’s too late to be hanging about outside at this time.”

“Just. Hurry!”

The boss is going to be pissed I’m taking off again. Who cares? You’re leaving anyway. She thought.

****

Emily sat at home rocking Molly in her arms. The little girl had woken up with all the shouting going on, and had cried relentlessly for an hour, until falling asleep. Molly had seen a lot of emotional outbursts from her mother since returning from hospital, but she had never heard her mom shouting back at her mama. Then of course finding that Dylan had left the house had made her even more distraught.

Since Dylan had lost it with her, Emily’s mind had begun to clear of the insecurities that had been building all day.

To see her partner so hurt and upset had blown the confusion and worries away. It had actually brought home to her how difficult her problems had become. Emily kissed her daughters head and thought, Look what you’ve done! You’ve finally driven Dyl away. The one person in the world who I know would never hurt me, and now she’s out god knows where doing god knows what.

A strength and determination she hadn’t felt in a long time surged through Emily.

Enough! I’m not going to let Toni or my mixed up head, mess up my family. Tomorrow things change. I only hope Dyl will come home.

****

“Another drink!” Dylan slurred.

The bar maid sighed. She had been watching the TV star become more intoxicated as the evening went on. When she first appeared the anger appeared to be rolling off her in waves. The women in the bar had flocked to the side of the famous star, but a furious look from her had sent them running back where they came from. Though the more alcohol she consumed, the less able Dylan became at expressing her need for solitude. For the past twenty minutes, a young woman had been hanging on Dylan’s every word, trying to interest her what she had to offer.

“I asked for another drink!”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea Dylan.” Megan said.

The TV stars face looked thunderous as she smacked her hand down on the bar. “Give me a drink and one for . . .what ‘s your name?”

“Natalie, Dylan.” The young woman said with a satisfied smile.

The girl who had been trying to pique Dylan’s interest piped up. “Dylan you can have a drink at my place if you’d like to come back with me.” Natalie had watched all the others be unsuccessful in their approach to the famous woman, but she knew as Dylan drank more, her defenses would fall. She knew she was Dylan’s type, feminine, long blonde hair, and if she could just get her back to her own apartment, Natalie knew she could seduce the famous woman.

Megan watched the look on Natalie’s face, and knew what she was thinking. I need to keep Dylan here until Rosie gets here.

“It’s okay Dylan here you go.” Megan passed the drinks over.

Dylan grabbed the glass of whiskey and downed half the glass. The warm liquid numbed the fear in her heart that she was losing Emily and her family. It was her greatest fear. She tried to focus on the woman sitting beside her. Who is she again? She looks fuzzy. She’s nothing like my Emmie. Emmie. I miss her.

“You’re a woman.” Dylan slurred to Natalie.

The young woman shouldered. “Why yes I am Dylan.”

“Well tell me, what can I say to make Emmie feel better? She’s unhappy.”

Natalie smirked. She knew from the gossip columns that the celebrity couples wedding was off, and their relationship was falling apart. With some gentle coaxing, she could look to be the next one in the rich TV stars bed.

Natalie leant forward, pushing her breasts out. “I Don’t think she has any reason in the world to be unhappy. She sounds like an extremely ungrateful partner. What you need Dylan, is someone who knows how to be very grateful.”

Dylan watched through her alcohol fuelled, dull witted brain, the young woman licked her lips seductively and stroked her hand teasingly up Dylan’s thigh.

“I know how to be grateful Dylan . . .”

****

Jackson had parked up and jogged down the street towards O’Reilly’s. She hurried after seeing Rosie standing out in front of the bar.

“I told you to stay inside! It’s too late at night to be standing out here.” Jackson said angrily.

“I don’t need looking after, so you can cut the chauvinist crap soldier boy!”

“Argh! You are just impossible!”

“Look, can we just get going? Dylan needs us.”

Jackson indicated to her to go first. “Well I’ll stick behind you hippy girl since you’re so capable of looking after yourself.”

Rosie marched off quickly, leaving Jackson to catch up.

When they neared the door of the bar, Rosie said, “So what happened today?”

“Ugh, I don’t know all the details but Emily was majorly pissed at Dylan for not coming home early from work. I think she’s struggling with what happened and Dylan doesn’t know how to handle it. I . . .uh . . .tried to call you. I didn’t know what to do to comfort Emily.”

Rosie sighed. “I know. I saw you’re missed call, but I was working.”

Jackson nodded and looked a little sad. “Oh okay. I didn’t think of that.”

Rosie thought the tough ex soldier was adorable when she let her emotions show through.

“Let’s get Dylan and drag her sorry butt home. Hey I’ll even let you open the door for me.” Rosie gave a gentle punch to Jackson’s arm.

Jackson smiled at the young women’s attempt to smooth ruffled feathers. “Ooh I am honored.”

True to her word she grabbed the door and let Rosie head into the bar first, letting her eyes linger on Rosie’s backside as she walked. God I want you hippy girl!

****

Jackson and Rosie spotted Dylan slumped at the bar, with some girl extremely close to her. As they got a few feet away, Dylan pushed the girl away from her and snarled.

“Don’t ever touch me again! I’m Emmie’s!”

Jackson rushed towards her and held the TV star back before the scene turned into an incident.

“Hey Dylan, it’s me. Stay calm okay. We’re going to get you out of here.”

Meanwhile, Rosie handed the amorous young woman her purse and said. “I’d get out of here and quickly. This woman is Ms. Morgan’s security, and you could be in trouble if we have to call the police.”

Natalie was gone in a second, wary of any unwanted attention. Turning to her friend Megan, Rosie asked, “What happened?”

“Dylan’s been chasing the women away all night, but she got a little worse for wear, and Miss thing there slipped through the net. All Dylan wanted to do was talk about her fiancée, and that wasn’t the girls plan. The woman touched Dylan, and she went mad. Dylan’s real drunk but didn’t do anything wrong.”

Rosie smiled, glad that her friend even in this inebriated state was loyal to the bone.

“Thanks for calling me Meg.”

“No problem.”

With Jackson holding Dylan up, they were able to keep the scene contained to a few people around the bar.

“You get the door Rosie, and I’ll help her out.”

When the cold air hit Dylan, she groaned, “Ah! I’m gonna throw up.”

“Fuck! Rosie take my keys and bring my car up here. We can’t let her be seen like this.” Rosie nodded and ran off.

Jackson had Dylan’s arm around her neck and was virtually dragging her to the side alley.

“If you’re going to be sick do it here! Not in the street were everyone can see you!”

Dylan then bent over beside the trashcans and brought up the contents of her stomach.

“Oh god! I’m gonna die!” Moaned Dylan.

“The hell you are Morgan!” Jackson pulled her friend to her feet and tried to get her to focus.

“Listen, Listen to me Morgan! You are going to get in my car, and you are not going to throw up again okay?”

Dylan’s eyes were shutting over and so Jackson shook her and repeated. “Okay?”

“Ah . . .okay.”

“Good and then we’re going to take you home to Emily. She must be so worried about you.”

Jackson saw the headlights of her car pull in front of the bar, and began half dragging her friend toward it.

“Emmie . . .she’s gonna be so mad Jackson. I . . .shouted and . . .walked out. I just want things the way they were. I love her buddy.”

“I know you do. Get in the car and we can take you home to your family.”

Jackson pushed Dylan into the back and came round to the driver’s side.

Rosie rolled her eyes as she saw Jackson waiting for her to change places in the front seat, as if it was the most natural thing in the world for Jackson to do the driving.

Just let her win this one Rosie or we’ll never get Dylan home.

She got out and slammed the driver’s door a bit too loudly. “Fine!”

****

Emily paced up and down. She had been waiting by the door since Rosie called. Emily didn’t know all the details, but Rosie had called and said they were bringing her home.

The intercom rang, signaling that they had arrived. Within a minute, they were up, and Emily opened the door to find her partner, being held up by Jackson, a worried looking Rosie close behind.

“Oh my god Dyl!”

“It’s okay Emily, she’s just had a little too much to drink.” Jackson dragged Dylan in and said, “Where do you want her Emily? She’s kinda heavy.”

“Oh of course. Um . . .Molly’s asleep on our bed, could you take her through to the third bedroom?”

“Sure. Come on Morgan. Move those feet, I know you can.”

Before Emily set off to follow, Rosie took her hand. “Are you alright Em?”

Emily sighed. “Yes. I am now she’s home safe. I didn’t know where she was. She left here so upset.”

“What happened?”

“I had a lot of insecurities going around in my head, and I put them onto Dylan. I do want to talk to you about it, but maybe tomorrow? I have to see to Dyl.”

“Okay. She . . .she didn’t do anything . . .she was just getting slowly drunk at the bar. My friend called me, and I thought I better get her home to you.”

“Thank you.”

They headed off to the bedroom and found Jackson laying her down on the bed.

“She was sick again. I got her into the bathroom on time.”

Emily went to Dylan’s side and kissed her forehead. “What have you been doing goofy?”

“Ugh! S . . .sorry.”

Jackson and Rosie watched as Emily stroked the TV stars head, trying to bring comfort to her partner, and suddenly felt like they were intruding on a private moment.

Jackson looked at Rosie for help, and Rosie asked, “Do you need anything Em. We can . . .”

“No, no. It’s okay.” Emily stood and walked over to her friends, giving the, a hug each. “Thank you so much for always being there for us you two. I’ll be fine now. I know things are going to get better now.”

“Okay. Well call if you need us.” Said Rosie.

“I will. Jackson you don’t have to come over tomorrow.”

“I don’t mind honestly. Even if I’m doing nothing. As long as it helps until you feel a bit better.”

Emily stood up on her tiptoes and kissed Jackson on the cheek. “I know. You’re very sweet you know that?”

Rosie smiled as she watched Jackson’s cheeks turn pink and she lowered her head.

“Dylan and I have a lot to talk about tomorrow, and her Mom and dad said they might visit tomorrow night while Dylan’s at work. I need to make some changes, and I’m determined to try and get back to normal.”

“We’ll if you feel scared, or anything, you just call and I’ll be over in a second.”

“Same goes for me Em.” Added Rosie.

Emily walked them both to the door and said. “Thanks for everything.”

After seeing their friends out, Emily got a bowl of ice water and a drink and hurried back to her partner.

Dylan was lying in the fetal position, moaning as if in pain.

Emily dropped to her knees and hugged her partner as best she could.

“Agh! Uh! I . . .I’m so s . . .sorry Emmie.”

“Shh. Don’t you ever say that darling. This was my fault. I deserved all you said. Here, this will make you feel better.” Emily wiped her partners brow with the ice water.

“You didn’t deserve . . . I . . .should . . .be more understanding.” Dylan slurred.

“Dylan Morgan! You have been the most understanding fiancée in the world. It’s time for me to recognize I’m just getting worse, and I need better help, but we’ll talk about that tomorrow. Just relax.”

It took of a great deal of Dylan’s concentration to put her words together. “No . . ..I’m sorry . . .I should have gotten there quicker. You shouldn’t have gone through . . .that ugh . . .made sure Toni won’t hurt you again though.”

Emily immediately stopped squeezing out the cloth in the ice water. “What?”

Dylan moaned and said, “Ugh feel sick . . .”

Emily took Dylan’s head in her hands, trying to get the TV star to focus. “Dylan? Look at me. What did you mean you made sure Toni won’t hurt me again?”

“I . . .shot her . . .I . . .killed her.”

Emily was dumbfounded. Dylan shot her? But Jackson . . .

Her thoughts were brought to an end by Dylan throwing up at her side.

****

Jackson pulled up her car in front of the small apartment building in Bay ridge, Brooklyn.

“That’s my place there.” Rosie pointed to the 1st floor apartment and waved to the man at the window.

“Is that your Dad?”

Rosie smiled affectionately. “Yes that’s daddy. I always tell him not to wait up, but he always does. Well thanks for your help tonight. ” She took off her seatbelt and was ready to jump out the door when Jackson grabbed her hand.

“Don’t go yet. Can we talk for five minutes? I haven’t seen you alone since we got back from the hospital.”

Rosie sighed. She was hoping to avoid this sort of conversation. “Okay. What do you want to talk about?” As if I don’t know.

Suddenly faced with the opportunity she had been looking for, terrified Jackson. “Um . . .well . . ..eh.”

Rosie’s heart melted as she watched Jackson struggle to find her words. It always did when Jackson dropped her tough emotionless facade. How can you deny that you adore this woman Rosie?

I can’t.

“Um I’m sorry for what I said at the hotel. It was an emotional time, and I was too full on, I’m sorry I made you feel uncomfortable.”

Rosie thought back to that night. It had overwhelmed her. Jackson had ordered a perfect dinner and had been so attentive to her needs. Just as Rosie had been starting to believe they could have something together, Jackson had talked about her job, and Rosie knew she would be off on her next assignment soon. Away from her. She shivered as she remembered Jackson’s kiss, the taste of her lips.

“Are you sorry for kissing me or sorry for telling me that you loved me?”

This caught Jackson totally off guard. “Um no, yes, I mean I’m not sorry for either of those things. I’m just sorry I made you feel uncomfortable. I know I make you angry and annoy you, but I uh do have those feelings for you, and it just came out because we were so close at the hospital.”

She says she loves me. But she’ll be gone soon.

Rosie looked up into Jackson’s eyes. She could see the emotion, confusion and hurt in them.

“Jackson, why are you trying to pursue this? You’ll be gone on your next assignment to the other side of the world, or at least somewhere too far away to have a relationship.”

It suddenly clicked in Jackson’s head how things had gone so wrong, when they were in the Catskills. Jackson actually felt what it would be like to be in a couple, to have someone to lean on, and she loved it. Then when they had dinner in the hotel room, something had changed. They had been talking about her job, and how it could take her all over the world at short notice.

She thinks you’re going to have your fun with her and leave her. Thought Jackson.

She took Rosie’s hand and said, “Didn’t I tell you, when we had dinner that I wanted to settle down? I don’t want to go away anymore. I’ve done well in my career. I can pick and choose what jobs to take, and I will choose jobs that will allow me to come home each night.”

Rosie felt a smile unconsciously creep onto her face. “So soldier boy? Are you going to ask me out on a date?”

“Wh . . .yes of course. What would you like to do? I’ve never actually been on a date before.”

Rosie snorted. “You’ve never had a date? Super cool, super smooth, super butch Jackson Hunter hasn’t had experience with women?”

After the vulnerable feeling of showing her emotions, Jackson was grateful that they’re usual argumentative sparring had returned.

Jackson leaned over, inches from Rosie’s lips and said, “I never said I didn’t have experience with women hippy girl. I’ve just never wanted to ask one out on a date before.”

Jackson smirked as she watched Rosie’s breathing increase and her tongue unconsciously wet her lips as they parted anticipating a kiss.

Instead, Jackson pulled back and said, “So where do you want to go?”

Rosie’s eyes narrowed. You think you can play with me and get away with it Hunter? I don’t think so soldier boy.

“Okay. My choice is it then? Well how about this Ms butch of the year 1955. I would like to have dinner at your apartment, and you have to cook it. No take out, no caterers, nothing ready made from the store. Just you in your apron cooking me dinner.”

Shit! She’s too good! Cooking was something Jackson did not do. Growing up they had always had a cook, her manicured mother would never have set foot in the kitchen. In her military life. The nearest she got to cooking was heating up field rations, and she had been known to burn them. But what choice did she have? Jackson wanted this date more than anything, and she was determined to take this chance.

So careful to show no outward signs of worry, she said arrogantly. “No problem at all hippy girl. Three courses alright for you?”

“Wonderful. How about next Saturday?”

Jackson smiled with more confidence than she felt. “Great. I’ll look forward to it.”

Rosie got out and said good night before heading inside. Once she was inside, Jackson’s head slammed down on the steering wheel. “Why did I say three courses? You are an idiot Hunter!”

****

Dylan had been wakened by her stomach rebelling yet again. Oh god! Why did I drink last night? She thought as she shakily tried to return to her feet. The bathroom door opened, and there stood her fiancée with a bottle of water and some pain killers. She had no idea how she got home last night, or what mood her partner had been in, all she could remember was saying some terrible things to Emily, storming out, drinking, being angry because some woman tried to touch her. Oh shit!

“Emmie I . . .”

“Shh. Take these pills, get a shower, then come and see your daughter and we’ll talk okay?”

Well she’s smiling. I can’t be in that much trouble can I? Maybe she’s waiting for the right moment Argh!. Dylan thought.

The pounding in Dylan ‘s head was making it difficult to think, so she decided just to do what she was told and see what happened. She took the pills and swallowed them down.

“There’s a good TV star. Now I’ll see you in the kitchen. Get in the shower, and don’t worry everything will be okay.”

Twenty minutes later a freshly scrubbed Dylan made her way into the kitchen.

When Molly spotted her favorite person she squealed, “Mom! You back!” Dylan grimaced at the sound of her daughters high pitched voice.

“Morning Molls. ”

Emily who was standing at the stove said, “Molly, remember we’re going to be nice and quiet for Mom this morning?”

“Oh yeah. I member. Mom I miff u last night.”

Dylan sat at the table and lifted the little girl onto her lap. “Come here little smurf. I’m sorry I missed story time last night. I . . .uh . . .had to work late, but I promise to make it up to you.”

Molly beamed at her Mom. “Ats otay. Mama say we are going to av lots of fun coz Santa Claus is coming soon.”

Dylan met Emily’s eyes and smiled. With all they had been through, cancelling the wedding and Emily’s problems, Christmas had been the last thing on her mind, but Emily seemed different this morning. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but she seemed more like her old Emmie.

“That’s right Smurf. Our first family Christmas, and we’re going to have so much fun.”

Molly bounced up and down on her lap. “Yeah! Mama we have Mom wif us this missmas!”

Emily smiled. This is what had been missing from their home since Toni had tried to destroy it. The lighthearted laughter, the fun. Dylan had been so worried about Emily that they’re family life suffered, and Molly had been so clingy, worried her parents could disappear at any moment.

Well that changes today! Emily reaffirmed.

“Molly, take your juice and go through and watch your movie like we talked about.”

“Otay Mama.” After Molly toddled off, Dylan rested her head in her hands. “Ugh! I think I’m going to die!”

Emily walked around and kissed her partners head. “Don’t be silly goofy. It’s just a hangover. Here have some coffee.”

Dylan looked up and watched her fiancée pour her coffee. “Why are you even talking to me Emmie? I fucked up.”

Emily sat down next to her and took her hand. “You didn’t do anything of the sort. What do you remember about last night?”

“Uh, I remember us fighting, I stormed out and went to a bar, drank loads of alcohol clearly. I can’t remember how I got home though.”

She doesn’t remember telling me about shooting Toni. You’ve been carrying such a burden TV star. Thought Emily.

“Jackson and Rosie found you and brought you home.”

Dylan looked nervously into her cup of coffee. “Emmie I’m so sorry for what I said to you. I . . .I should be more understanding. You’ve been through hell, and I shouldn’t have flown off the handle just because you have worries and insecurities, it just hurt that you thought I would cheat on you. You’re my everything. You and Molly . . .I couldn’t exist without you both. I would never even look at another woman.”

“Dylan look at me. You have nothing to be sorry about. I deserved everything you said. I’ve put you and Molly through too much, you have been the most supportive partner I could get, but I’ve been letting my bad thoughts and fears control me. Last night was a wake up call. I promise things are going to get better. I want us to talk things out and make a plan of how things are going to change before you have to go to the studio tonight.”

The TV star was shocked, this was the most together and positive she had heard Emily since before the kidnapping.

“Eh . . .okay. Um, Emmie you know what I said when I left for the bar? About doing what you thought I was, you know . . .women and stuff. I never did anything when I was out last night, I swear. Not even being drunk could change my loyalty to you.”

Emily opened her arms, and a very willing Dylan accepted her hug. “I know goofy. I always knew, deep down that you would never betray me. I know how loyal you are, and how much our family means to you. It’s just, it’s hard to explain.”

Dylan pulled away and kissed her partners hand. “Explain to me baby. I want to understand, I’m always here to listen to you.”

Emily had been rehearsing how she would explain this all night, but now it seemed so hard to say.

“This is so hard to talk about, but I’ll try. I’ve been trying to hide what happened deep down inside, and you and Molly have suffered for it.”

Dylan stroked her partners blonde hair. “Just take your time Emmie.”

Emily then told her everything that had happened. The physical violence, the sexual violence, how Toni told her Molly was dead. Everything. Dylan did her best to keep a lid on her feelings, allowing Emily to purge herself of these awful memories.

“She not only left my body broken, but she got in here too.” Emily pointed at her head.

“I feel like all the scars and marks on my body are ugly reminders of Toni, like you wouldn’t find me desirable anymore, and I didn’t know when I would feel able to make love again. When I tried with you I was back in that cabin again, with Toni on top of me.”

“But why did you need to try so soon?” Asked Dylan.

“I had this dream . . .” As Emily explained, everything began to fall into place. The dream, the TV gossip about Annie and herself.

“Please tell me you don’t believe these things baby girl?”

“Not now in the cold light of day, but it all built up throughout the day. The little voice inside my head telling me I was ugly, deformed, undesirable and that you would leave me, and that is my worst fear.”

Dylan stood and began to pace around the kitchen. “Honey speak to me.”

“I swear if I could have Toni back here right now I would make her hurt and then I would kill her!”

Emily looked up at her fiancée and said, “Didn’t you already?”

****

Dylan’s heart thudded as she stared in shock at her partner. “Wh . . .what do you mean?”

“Last night, when you were drunk. You told me you killed her.”

Dylan sat down on the kitchen chair with a thud, panic seizing her guts. “Tell me what happened Dyl.”

“She was taunting me. Telling me how I would never be rid of her, how she would always be able to come between us. When I touched you, when we made love, she would always be there, because . . .”

“What honey? What did she say?”

“She said you had lied about that time when you were pregnant with Molly, when she tried to rape you. She told me she did and that she did it again as soon as you got to the cabin. I couldn’t take it. The rage just consumed me, and I pulled the trigger. Jackson grabbed the gun and took the blame. Said she had to protect us. I didn’t know how you would feel, I thought I might lose you and Molly. What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to do everything I can to rebuild our lives Dyl.”

“You’re not to going to tell . . .”

Emily knelt in front of her and said, “Dylan, I can’t truthfully say I wouldn’t have done the same thing. I wanted to kill her, but I didn’t have the guts like you did. I had a broken bottle to her chest and I couldn’t. I’m not going to blame you for having that courage. She was a nasty, mixed up person, and she threatened your family. You are a good and decent person, but even good people can be pushed too far, and Toni pushed too far. We won’t ever speak of it again okay? It’s between you, me and Jackson.”

The TV star pulled her fiancée into her lap. “You couldn’t do it Emmie because you have a purity and goodness, I could only dream of having. It’s why I love you so much. I’ll die trying to protect that goodness in you.”

“Hold me honey.”

After some time had passed Emily said, “I know I need better help than I’m getting from the hospital counselor. It’s just not working.”

“Jackson gave me a name of someone who had helped her after her sister died. She said her methods were unusual, but it definitely helped. What do you think?”

Emily sat back and smiled. “I’ll try anything if it helps me get my old self back. I know I’m doing better today, but I need help with my fear, my anxiety and my memories of that cabin. Will you make an appointment for me honey?”

“Of course Emmie. We will get through this.” Said Dylan.

“I want to be your wife and have the family Christmas Molly has never had, without Toni popping up in my brain.”

“We will. You wait Mama Smurf, we are going to have the most magical family Christmas ever.”

****

Those that watched The Dylan Morgan Show that Saturday night would never have known the turmoil the TV star had gone through the past few days. Ever the consummate professional, she got through the show seamlessly. Even with the remnants of a hangover, Dylan was filled with hope for the first time since the kidnapping.

Dylan had gotten Emily an appointment with the new therapist Rain Bellard, for first thing Monday morning. Jackson drove them over while Pattie and Tommy looked after Molly at home.

Dylan insisted Jackson stayed on during the days for the time being, stating that Emily and Molly needed protection from the press intrusion.

Jackson parked up outside a small medical centre, and said “You go in that side door there and exit at a door on the other side. It’s to ensure that patients don’t meet. She has a lot of clients who would not appreciate the publicity.”

“Okay thanks Jackson. You ready baby? ”

Emily held onto Dylan’s arm with a death grip while gripping her medical file they brought in the other. “Do I look alright?”

Dylan looked over her fiancée dressed in Armani skirt and blouse, Jimmy Choo’s that accentuated her beautiful calf muscles, and elegant winter coat covering her plaster cast on her left arm. For the fifth time that morning she said, “Emmie you look positively beautiful. I know you’re nervous, but she’s not going to be judging how you look. She’s there to help you.”

Jackson opened the car door for them, and they both got out. “I’ll wait here for you both. Good luck Em.”

“Thanks Jackson.” Squeaked Emily.

They walked hand in hand towards the entrance to the building. “I know you think she won’t be judging me, but it always runs through my head that people are expecting some diner waitress still smelling of grease.”

Dylan laughed. “Don’t be silly baby girl. You always look elegant, no matter what you wear.” Dylan opened the door for her fiancée, and she walked in. They found themselves in a small waiting room. It was a massive contrast from the bright winter sun outside. The room was darker, and the air had a Smokey hue to it from the burning incense and candles dotted about the room. Emily looked up at Dylan who simply smirked and walked over to the reception desk. “You sit down Emmie, I’ll get you booked in.”

As Dylan rang the bell at the desk and waited for attention, Emily took the opportunity to look around the different looking waiting room. In the background mystical sounding music played, all over the walls were hangings in oriental script, and on other walls hung pictures of temples, Buddha’s and Zen images of stones balancing one on top of the other. As Emily took in the sights and smells of the little room, she felt herself unconsciously drop her shoulders and let out a long breath.

A woman came out handed Dylan a clipboard, and explained that Rain would not be long. It was then that Emily noticed above the reception desk was the emblem of an eagle with the phrase underneath, ‘Dare to Soar’

“Um . . .you’ve to fill this out baby. It won’t be long. Strange little place huh?”

Emily took the clipboard and pen and started filling out her information. “I can’t imagine Jackson in this place. Do you suppose she is a real Doctor Dyl?”

“Sure Emmie, I don’t think Jackson’s commanding officer would have recommended her otherwise.”

Emily had worry suddenly painted all over her face. “Will you come in with me? Just this first time.”

Dylan took her hand and kissed it softly. “Of course baby. Whatever you want. ”

They were interrupted by the young receptionist. “Miss Taylor? Rain will see you now if you’ll follow me.”

They followed the young woman into the Rain’s office. They were met by the site of a small plump woman, her silver hair hanging long down her back in contrast to her brown skin. She sat crossed legged on a bean bag, her eyes closed in contemplation.

“Do sit down. Rain will be with you shortly.” The receptionist whispered as if being careful not to disturb the seemingly sleeping woman. The office was more of a large gym room than an office. There were no chairs no desk, only bean bags scattered throughout the room. In the middle of the floor were work out mats.

“What the hell is this about?” Dylan whispered angrily to her fiancée.

Emily struggled to sit comfortably on the bean bag seats with her tight skirt and in heels. “Just sit Dyl. Give her a minute.”

The TV star sat down onto the bean bag with a thump and a sigh. Who the hell does she think she is? Wake up you new age freak! I’m gonna kill Jackson for recommending this woman.

Emily, on the other hand, was mesmerized by Rain’s appearance. The therapist must have had ten bracelets on each arm. A sky blue shawl covered her shoulders and blouse while on her lower half, she sported bright purple baggy trousers. She appeared to be so calm and still.

Dylan’s patience was at an end. She jumped up and said, “Hey! Doctor! Could you actually wake up and talk to us? I’m not paying you to sit and sleep.”

Emily pulled her fiancée arm. “Dylan, please. She’s just got her own methods I’m sure.”

“We’re paying good money for this Emmie. I’m not gonna be treated like an idiot.”

Form nowhere the odd looking therapist suddenly spoke up. “One would not dare to treat you like an idiot Ms. Morgan.”

Dylan’s head snapped round to find the white haired therapist looking straight at her. She stood and walked towards them. “Miss Taylor I presume?” The Therapist had a hint of an accent Emily couldn’t quite place, European was the best she could come up with.

Emily took the Doctors hand and said, “Yes pleased to meet you Dr . . .”

“Just Rain will suffice my sweet one.” Emily blushed, and Dylan looked highly unimpressed at the over familiar term of endearment.

“This is my fiancé Dylan Morgan.”

Rain held out her hand, and after being nudged by Emily, Dylan took it. I see you are her protector, strong one.

Rain had not been sleeping or ignoring them. When a new client came to see her, she liked to look with her mind and listen to the person before she looked with her eyes, and in this case she was mightily glad she did. She was able to observe the dynamics between this couple and it told her a great deal.

“Well now the introductions are over, why don’t you make yourselves comfortable.”

“Oh yeah, like we’ll be comfortable on these things!” Dylan grumbled.

“Dyl!” Emily whispered. “Let’s give it a chance.” Then turning to Rain she said. “Is it alright if Dylan sits in with me?”

The Therapist sat in a yoga pose on the gym mats. “That is acceptable for the moment.”

“What the . . .”

Again Emily put her arm on Dylan’s arm to calm her. Rain smirked and said to Emily. “I think your mate is like the Lion, fierce, powerful, strong, and roars a lot, but underneath is devoted and playful.”

Oh yeah very funny! Thought Dylan.

Emily laughed, recognizing her partner in those words and felt her nervousness melt away.

“So, what can I do to help Emily?”

“Jackson Hunter recommended you to me. I don’t know if you’ve seen in the media, but I’ve been through some trauma, and I haven’t been handling it very well. I haven’t made much progress with the hospital therapist, so I felt like I should try someone new. Dylan could you give Rain the file?”

As her partner went over to hand over the medical file, Emily explained, I had a severe head trauma and this has caused mood swings, episodes of anger and fear of leaving Dylan or the house. Dr Rosen was good enough to give me my file so you could get an understanding of my case.”

Rain held the thick medical file but did not open it. “And these symptoms are what you were told to expect?” Rain asked.

“Yes . . .it’s all in my file if you . . .” Emily watched as Rain threw her file onto the floor, never having looked at it.

“Hey! What are you doing?” Dylan shouted.

“Are you not going to look at it?” Emily said.

“No, it holds no interest to me.”

Dylan stood up quickly. “That’s it! Come on Emmie, let’s go.”

“Wait Dyl. Why does it not interest you?”

Rain got up and came to kneel in front of Emily. “People have come to me with medical files twice the size of yours, containing information on this syndrome, that syndrome and don’t even get me started on the people who do internet research. What does it matter what is wrong with you? It is just a name medical science wants to label you with. What matters is in here and in here.” Rain pointed to Emily’s head and her heart.

“Tell me what you feel.” Emily felt as if Rain could look inside her and see exactly what she felt, and then her tears started to tumble from her eyes.

“I . . .I feel hurt inside. Everything seems black.” Dylan moved to comfort her fiancée but Rain raised a hand to stop her.

“That my sweet one, I can help you with.” The therapist cupped her cheek and continued. “It does not matter which condition or syndrome it is, what matters is how we make you feel better, and we will, but my methods are different. We will not sit around contemplating the trauma of your childhood. No! We take action, decisive action that will allow you to control your mind and body and not the other way around. To do this I will need you to trust me, not everyone can accept my way of working. Do you think you could trust me?”

Emily smiled, “Yes I can.”

Rain stood to face Dylan. “And you my strong lion. We have no need of you here. Go prowl in the waiting room.”

The TV star looked unimpressed with Rain’s suggestion. She cast her gaze down at her fiancée. “Emmie?”

“I’ll be fine Dyl, on you go.”

Dylan sighed, “If you need me, just come and get me okay?”

“I promise honey. I’ll be fine.

Dylan made her way towards the door thinking. Yeah, if I was lion I’d bite your freaking head off!

****

Rain had picked up bits and pieces of what had happened to Emily on the news reports but to hear the young woman recount every little detail, made her realize they had a lot of work to do.

“I can help you Emily, and over the coming weeks I am going to show you how to take charge of your mind, so it does not drive you. First of all stand up and kick off those expensive looking heels. Maybe next time you could wear some looser clothes. Your lion may like to see you in little short skirts but for our purposes it is not necessary.”

Emily laughed as she imagined the image of her ‘Lion’ prowling outside. “I will.” Emily kicked off her shoes and took off her jacket. They stood in the middle of the gym mat and Rain asked her to close her eyes.

“What do you hear Emily?”

“Eh . . .the wind outside . . .”

“No. In your head.”

As soon as Emily shifted her focus inside she heard it. The voice that made her scared, the voice that made her question Dylan’s faithfulness, the voice that gave her bad dreams.

“Toni.”

Rain nodded her head and walked round Emily. “Don’t try to block her voice, listen to it. Let her speak loud and clear.” Fresh tears tumbled down Emily’s cheeks.

“That’s it. Now you are going to take control of that voice. Imagine an old fashioned radio in front of you. The kind with the big tuning and volume knobs. Do you understand?”

Emily nodded. “Good. Now all I want you to do turn down that voice. Go on, turn it just a bit at first. Is it getting quieter?”

Emily couldn’t believe it, but it was actually working. In her mind’s eye, each time she turned the knob, Toni’s voice got quieter.

“Yes it’s working!”

“Keep turning until the volume is at zero, and Toni’s voice is gone. Nod your head when you get to that point.”

Emily nodded after a few seconds.

Rain walked round and stood in front of her. “Now enjoy the silence for twenty seconds and slowly open your eyes and come back to me.

Emily opened her eyes with a big smile. “That was amazing! Thank you Rain. That was the first peaceful time I’ve had in . . .I don’t remember when.”

Rain held Emily softly by the shoulders. “That was to show you that you are in control of your mind, not the other way about. When the voice, and the million thoughts that race around your head come back, and they will, just close your eyes and turn them down.”

Emily threw her arms round the older woman. “Thank you Rain. you are giving me hope that my life will get back to normal.”

“That’s just the start sweet one. You told me you canceled your wedding. Why was this? Do you not want to marry the growling one?”

“Oh yes of course. It’s just I wasn’t well, I still am unwell and we didn’t think it was right to go on with the wedding. I can’t wait to marry Dylan.”

“Hmm . . .Do you have any more hospital appointments for your head injury?”

“Just a check up before Christmas and I get my arm cast off next week.”

Rain took her hand and said, “Then you are in no danger. Do not wait for some mythical time when everything will be perfect, no time is ever perfect. We will work on your anxiety, but do not stop your life in the meantime. Tell me what would be your dream.”

Emily took a breath and said. “To get married to Dylan like we planned before Christmas and to spend a magical Christmas together as an official family. To show everyone out there that Dylan and I are as strong as ever and this event in my life didn’t beat me”

“Then do it sweet one. Do it! Don’t you know that the lion may do all the growling but without the lioness to nurture the pride, provide the meat, the lion and the cubs would be lost. She is the strength in the pride.”

Emily thought of her own little cub at home, and what she had been through. Dylan and Molly deserved better.

“Take charge Sweet One.”

Emily looked Rain in the eye with a determined look and said. “I will!”

****

As much as Dr Rain annoyed Dylan, she had to admit the difference she had made to Emily was astounding, and after only one visit. Her fiancée had come out full of excitement and enthusiasm, although Rain had warned them Emily would have her ups and downs, at least she now had hope and a plan to follow.

Emily never shut up all the way home, and Dylan thought it best just to smile and nod her head. They enjoyed a family meal with Dylan’s mom and dad then after Molly went to bed they sat on the couch enjoying some time alone together.

Emily lay with her head on Dylan’s lap, enjoying the gentle stroking of her partners fingers through her hair.

When she had spoken to Rain about her fears when it came to becoming intimate with Dylan again, she advised relaxing into these small quiet times, where they would simply touch with no expectations, except to convey the love each had for the other. Slowly rebuilding the bond between the two and making Emily feel safe in their intimacy.

“Hmm. This is nice. Just you and me.”

Dylan lifted her fiancée’s hand and kissed it tenderly. “Yes it is.” Dylan was happier than she had been in a long time. Emily was calmer, happier, and just being together, sharing this quiet moment in front of the fire was like heaven.

“I’m glad you got on so well today Emmie, but I want you to be honest and talk to me. If you need space or alone time, or if there are any thoughts turning over in that mind of yours, then tell me and I’ll chase them away.”

Emily sat up and smiled at Dylan. “Rain was right. You are my growly lion!”

“Oh don’t you start with that as well. I mean it. I know your gonna have down times, where things aren’t going so well, or you need some time to go do some of the exercises Rain gave you to do, just tell me. I’ll play with Molly and give you the space. Don’t bottle things up inside.”

How did I ever get so lucky! Thought Emily, and she leaned in and kissed Dylan on the nose. “You are the sweetest goofy TV star I could have ever hoped for. There is something I’ve been thinking about a lot since this afternoon. I don’t know what you’ll think about it.”

“What? Tell me.”

Emily moved so she was sitting fully in Dylan’s lap. “Well . . .you know we talked about putting everything behind us and having a great family Christmas?”

“Yeah?”

“I want us to be a family officially. I don’t want to wait and put our life on hold anymore. I want us to be married before Christmas.”

Dylan was silent for a full minute, just staring at her partner.”

“Dyl? Say something.”

Then Emily felt herself pulled into a long passionate kiss. When they pulled back for air Dylan said, “Nothing on this earth could make me happier, than to make you Mrs. Morgan. I just didn’t think you would be up to it so soon.”

“I want to honey. I want to get on with our lives.”

“I just don’t want you to commit to it then get stressed and worried again.”

“Well. What I was thinking was to scale the wedding back from what it was. Just you, me, Molly, your parents and Jackson and Rosie, and Lynn of course, at city hall. No publicity, no press. Just our family and friends. The people who care about us.”

“It sounds wonderful but we only have three weeks till Christmas, that’s not much time to get a wedding together, plus we have Christmas presents, decorations, a tree all to organize. I don’t have any of those things, I never bothered when it was just me, Christmas was just another day to me.” Dylan said sadly.

That made Emily even more resolved to make it all perfect. “I know it was lonely for you, Molly and I only had each other, and I couldn’t afford to give her much, but this year will be different because we’ll all be together. I have my dress, you have your suit. We could just have our friends at a restaurant or back here after, some food, some drinks? That’s not too hard. As for presents and decorations, that’s easy.”

Dylan thought for a minute. She thought of how perfect it could be. She thought how it would make her dreams come true. Then she thought how it was a lot to take on for Emily, so early in her recovery. Would the stress set her back?

What should I say? Don’t even try and kid yourself Morgan. You know you’re going to give her exactly what she wants any way! Yep. She has your number. Some lion huh?

“Okay. I’ll agree, but on one condition.”

“What?”

“If you feel too stressed, or it’s getting to much for you, you tell me. You get my mom and Rosie to help you, and do not miss one appointment with Rain. Okay?”

Emily beamed and gave Dylan a big kiss on the lips before jumping off her lap and running towards the bedroom. “Yes, my growling one!”

“Emmie!”

Episode 4

Emily continued to make good progress with her recovery. She spent some time each day on her own in meditation, and doing the exercises Rain had given her. It was Dylan’s last show before the Christmas break on Saturday, so they booked the wedding for the following Saturday. The ceremony would be quiet one at city hall, with just Dylan’s parents, and Jackson and Rosie, Lynn, and her buddies, Mark and Patrick. Then for afterwards, Dylan had paid a small fortune, because of the short notice, for one of the city’s coolest restaurants to host the reception. This way she hoped to maintain security and privacy of their day. Dylan’s loyal staff had been invited to the reception as they were as close to family as she had before Emily and Molly. Everyone was on board to help, with Patricia and Rosie being invaluable in helping Emily with the preparations. Although Jackson would not be working, she had put together a small team of security people she knew were good at what they did, to try and keep the press and the curious out.

Jackson popped her head into the kitchen where Emily and Patricia were choosing food for the small wedding reception.

“Um . . .Emily could I have a word?” Jackson asked nervously.

“Sure Jackson come in.” But the soldier hung around the door.

Patricia saw the nervous look on Jackson’s face and decided to give them some time alone

“Emily, why don’t I get Molly cleaned up for lunch. You two talk.”

“Thanks Pattie. Sit down Jackson. Is there something wrong?”

The soldier ran her fingers nervously through her dark short hair. “I . . .I didn’t want to bother you with this. You’ve been . . .”

“Jackson. Tell me.”

Jackson shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “You know how I feel about Rosie?”

Emily smiled softly. “Of course I do. It’s written all over your face every time your with her.”

“Yeah well. We got closer when you were in hospital. Things didn’t seem as hard. We didn’t argue, just supported each other, anyway when we got home, she seemed to retreat from me again, but the other night when we brought Dylan home, we talked and she said she would go out on a date with me.”

“That’s great Jackson! So what’s the problem.”

“Hippy girl got to choose the date so I have to cook a three course meal at my place, and I’ve only ever heated up field rations over a gas burner.”

Emily burst out laughing. “Hey don’t laugh! This my chance to impress her. She thinks I’m too butch. She testing me or setting me up to fail, one of the two.”

“Oh Jackson she doesn’t think your too butch, you’re just different than she’s used to, and what her peer group expect her to go for. She loves who you are, believe me.”

“Really?” Jackson perked up a little.

Oh Jackson, you are both perfect for each other. Clueless, but perfect.

“We’ll yeah! She looks like she wants to devour you whole when you’re not looking, but why three courses Jackson? Could you not have started out with something . . .a little . . .more manageable?”

“Well she issued a challenge!” Jackson covered her face with her hands.

“I’m screwed, aren’t I?”

Emily’s two friends had been so good to her family, there was no way she was going to watch them be unhappy. I’ll bang their heads together if need be!

“Listen, let me have a think. I’ll come up with a menu that will be fool proof, even for you okay?”

“Thanks Em. I don’t want to give you extra stress or anything.”

Emily got up and poured them both some coffee. “Hey don’t you start! I’ve already got Dylan fussing about the wedding and Christmas shopping being too much for me. I mean what’s stressful about Present shopping? It’s fun, especially now I don’t have to scrimp and save. I’m doing well so far with Rain and feeling better, so I just want to do things and get on with life. You know?”

Jackson nodded in understanding. Emily then a horrible thought. “I’ve thought of something that’s stressful. Dylan’s Christmas present. How do you buy something for someone who has everything!”

****

Saturday evening arrived and Jackson had been in the kitchen most of the day. She had gone over to Emily’s early morning to collect the groceries her friend had picked out for her to use. Jackson cast her mind back to first thing this morning.

Emily stood the kitchen counter with her friend, while Dylan and Molly ate Breakfast behind them at the kitchen table.

“Now remember Jackson don’t leave the spaghetti on too long, you want it with a little bite still in it. I’ve written the recipe out stage by so even a child like Molly could follow it.”

In the background Dylan guffawed in laughter. Jackson turned and gave her buddy a sharp look.

“Although Molly may manage it, I have no doubt it would be too involved for Dylan.”

“Hey!” Dylan shouted, annoyed at the smug look she was getting from Jackson. Dylan picked up a grape from the fruit bowl and threw it at the back of Jackson’s head making Molly giggle.

“Don’t make me turn round Dylan Morgan! Jackson is doing something really romantic and she needs our support!”

“Oh yeah and I’m not romantic?”

“Of course you are honey.” Emily said dismissively.

“I’ll show you romantic!” Dylan muttered under her breath.

“What’s mantic Mom?” Molly asked innocently.

“Em . . .when you really love someone a whole lot, you make things special for them. Like when I buy mama flowers?”

Molly nodded. “Just like that. I’m very good at it.” Dylan said smugly.

“Now be careful when your adding the chilies. You don’t want to blow her head off.”

“No, just her dress maybe!” Dylan laughed.

Emily turned round and gave her partner a glare. “Dylan, if you don’t want me to tell Jackson the little nickname Rain has for you, then you’ll be quiet.”

“Em. Why don’t we go and get you dressed Molls. Come on jump on board smurf!”

Emily couldn’t help but smile as she watched Molly jump on her Mom’s back and trot off together.

“Diddey up Mom!”

“Now where were we Jackson?”

Although Jackson appeared annoyed at Dylan’s laughter, she secretly craved that she and Rosie could have what Emily and Dylan shared in that family kitchen.

The former soldier had taken on the job of cooking as if it was a military campaign, and Emily’s instructions orders from a commanding officer. Despite this, she was more nervous than she had ever been when facing the enemy.

“Okay, now the sauce just needs heated when Rosie arrives, the starter is plated up and ready to go, dessert is the fridge.” Jackson looked down at her watch. “Woah! Better get dressed!”

****

Rosie, despite her bravado when they had arranged the date was nervous as she walked towards Jackson’s front door. Nervous of what this date would mean, nervous because she knew deep down that it was becoming harder and harder to resist Jackson. Added to that, Emily’s words ringing in her ears from their earlier phone conversation.

“I’m glad you got on so well with the therapist. She sounds great. How did you find about her again?”

“Umm. I’m not sure. Maybe someone at the studio?” Dylan had made Emily promise to keep Jackson’s secret.

“We’ll I’ve got lots of meditations and music I could give you.”

“Thanks, so tonight’s the big night?”

“Yeah.” Rosie chuckled. “I can’t wait to see what Jackson makes for a three course meal.”

“About that. She’s tried really hard, so give her a break for me okay?”

There was a pause on the line then Rosie suddenly thought. “Did you make it for her Em? You can tell me!” Rosie thought she finally had something over her sometime nemesis.

“No I didn’t. I just gave her some recipes and some guidance. She was a bit lost, but she wanted tonight to be perfect for you, so she’s pulled out all the stops for this. I know she seems really tough Rosie, but she’s like Dylan in that way. Tough on the outside but underneath soft and vulnerable.”

Rosie was about to say how she couldn’t believe Dylan was vulnerable, but then she thought of how she had been when Toni had taken Emily, and how she was with Molly, and she knew only Emily must see that side of her partner. Rosie knew Emily was right, no matter how much she tried to fight it, she knew Jackson, and she would protect that vulnerability just as Emily did with Dylan.

“You’re right I know. Don’t worry, I won’t torment her much . . .no I promise.”

“Good, now make sure you call me with all the juicy gossip! Remember we have a date to go Christmas shopping tomorrow.”

“Em, nothing’s going to happen. It’s just dinner. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Even as she said it, her heart sped up at the thought of being in Jackson’s arms again.

“Just dinner . . .of course it is.”

Well here goes!

Rosie rang the bell and a few moments later Jackson opened the door, a shy smile on her face.

“Hi, uh you look just . . .beautiful.” Jackson got a little lost in taking in Rosie’s feminine form. Wow! The black mini dress the young woman wore, allowed Rosie to show off some of her best attributes, and Jackson clearly appreciated them.

Rosie watched with amusement as Jackson seemed to be struck dumb. She had agonized over what to wear for a couple of hours, showing her father nearly every outfit in her closet. At the start she was determined for her clothes to appear as disinterested as she could, but by the end she had picked her best, and most feminine outfit, simply because she knew Jackson would like it.

“Eh . . .can I come in? Or are we eating in the hallway?” Jackson realized she had been caught staring said, “Uh . . .of course sorry! Come in please. Let me take your coat.”

Jackson took her coat and said, “Please take a seat. Can I get you a drink? Glass of champagne?”

Rosie gave her a surprised look. ” You don’t look like the champagne type soldier boy.”

“I’m full of surprises hippy girl! So champagne?”

“Okay, that would be nice.” When Jackson left her to go into the kitchen Rosie had the opportunity to look around. The room had a romantic glow owing to the dimmed lights and the candles dotted about the room. Over in the corner, the dining table was set out beautifully, with more candles crystal wine glasses and a single red rose at her table setting.

Jack, you really are trying aren’t you. Maybe . . ..

“Hey, I thought I’d open it in here. Will you hold your glass for me?”

Rosie took the champagne flute and watched in amazement as Jackson gently squeezed the cork out of the bottle without a huge pop or the liquid spilling everywhere.”

“Impressive, and that’s coming from a bartender.”

Jackson smiled and poured out a drink for them both. “Here you go, enjoy.”

“What will we drink to?” Rosie asked.

“How about new beginnings?”

“New beginnings.”

Rosie took a sip and nearly choked when she saw the label on the bottle. “Woah! 1938? Where did you get that?”

“Oh um. It was a present.”

Rosie felt a wave of jealousy wash over her. Who is giving her champagne? 1938 Kruger champagne at that.

“Nice present!” Rosie said in an offhand manner.

Hey are you jealous hippy girl? Thought Jackson.

“Yeah nice present from the fifty year old, married with three kids, French ambassador. A gift when I finished my assignment. ”

The fact that Jackson smirked and saw right through her jealously annoyed the young woman greatly.

“Hey I didn’t care who gave you it soldier boy!”

“Sure you didn’t.”

Then through her annoyance, Rosie realized the significance of Jackson opening this bottle for her.

“You shouldn’t have opened this for me, it must be worth a lot of money.”

Jackson reached out and took Rosie hand in her own. “Tonight’s special to me. I think it’s a perfect time to open this. Did I tell you look beautiful tonight.”

Rosie blushed. “Yes, but thank you. You look really nice yourself.” Jackson was dressed in designer jeans and black shirt open at the collar. Rosie guessed this was as casual as the ex soldier got.

“Too butch I guess?” Rosie met her eyes and said, “No. You don’t have to change anything for me.”

Jackson was knocked slightly off balance by this and decided a retreat was in order. “Um . . .I’ll just go and check the food okay?”

****

“This is so nice Jackson!”

“You sound surprised?”

Everything had gone well so far, the simple salad starter had gone down well, with Emily’s special dressing recipe taking the dish to another level.

“I suppose I am. So tell me something about yourself. Why did you join the army?”

“I was born to do it.”

Rosie stopped mid bite , and gave Jackson a strange look. “What? How can you be born to do it?”

“The same way that my sister wasn’t. It’s a family tradition, and as much as I say I’m not like my father, if I’m honest, we share a lot of the same characteristics. Ever since I can remember, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to serve my country. Uh I know that sounds weird to you.”

Rosie sighed and put down her fork. “Look, I can’t pretend to understand the urge to fight, and we are never going to agree on a lot of things. I mean, I’ve been protesting war in the Middle East since I was a teenager, but now that I’ve come to know you, I understand there are are soldiers who just want to serve their country and keep the peace.” Taking a chance, Rosie reached over and took Jackson’s hand. “And they don’t come anymore honorable than you Jack.”

Jackson brought Rosie’s hand up to her lips to kiss and said, “Rosie I . . .” She was interrupted by a hissing sound coming from the kitchen.

“Oh no! I forgot about the spaghetti!” Jackson jumped up and ran to the kitchen to find the water boiling over the pot, and covering the stove top. “Oh shit!”

****

Sometime later, the couple sat together on the couch. “It was fine.”

Jackson had a scowl on her face. “No it wasn’t. The pasta was so over cooked it was mushy.”

“Well I don’t like my pasta al dente, so it was fine.” Rosie lied. In truth the main course of pasta and chili pasta sauce had not worked so well, but Jackson felt so bad about it, Rosie was trying to make her feel better.”

“I don’t think so, and you nearly choked because I forgot to take the seeds out of the chili’s!”

“Jack . . .” Rosie tried to interrupt but Jackson continued on.

“I mean what idiot forgets to take all the seeds out the chillies when chopping them. I wanted tonight to be perfect. I guess you’ve proved your point that I would mess it up!”

“Jackson Hunter! Would you shut the hell up!”

“Wh . . .did you just tell me to shut up?”

Rosie moved closer and teased, “Yeah, what you gonna do about it soldier boy?”

She thought she could almost hear a soft growl before Jackson’s lips met her own in a fiery kiss. The ferocity of the kiss and the passion should not have surprised Rosie, the entire time she had known the bodyguard, they had been at each other’s throats, either wanting to kill or kiss each other, but it did. She felt an insatiable need for Jackson, a passion that she thought was unquenchable.

The young woman allowed herself to be pushed back on the couch, Jackson’s kisses moving from her lips to her neck, gently nipping and licking the most sensitive spots. “Jack.” Rosie moaned.

“Why do I feel like this. You’re not even my type.”

Jackson stopped and looked into her loves eyes. “I am exactly your type. I was made for you. I love you hippy girl.”

She had said it to her before, but something inside had always made her doubt if Jackson truly meant it. But now, here in this moment looking into her eyes, she knew the truth.

Rosie reached up and stroked her fingers tenderly down Jackson’s cheek. “I know. I love you too.”

After waiting so long to hear, and being pushed away by Rosie for so long, Jackson savored the words. “Please tell me again.”

“I love you Jackson Hunter.” Their lips came together again, this time only with tenderness and none of the ferocity of the first kiss.

As Jackson slowly kissed down her jawbone, Rosie said, “Jack, make love to me.”

Jackson stopped and looked in Rosie’s eyes, determined to make sure she wasn’t reading any signals wrongly, like the way she had when Rosie first came to her apartment.

Rosie saw the uncertainty, and knew that she had put it there. She traced Jackson’s lip with the tip of her finger. “I want this Jack, I want you. Make love to me.”

After a few seconds, Jackson stood and pulled Rosie with her. She said nothing but pulled her towards the bedroom. Jackson stood watching Rosie intently but not making the first move, as if she was scared of doing the wrong thing.

Rosie turned her back and pulled Jackson to her, echoing the position they had been in the day she had rejected Jackson. Rosie met her soon to be lovers eyes in the mirrored closet doors ahead of them. “I’m ready.” She whispered.

Jackson’s eyes turned darkly passionate. She then closed them for only a second and took a breath. I’m ready. Those words said so much to Jackson. The first time they were here, in this moment, Rosie had known what was in her heart, but was not ready to admit it or show it. Now Jackson knew she had Rosie’s heart truly and willingly given, and she intended to show her new lover, just what that meant to her.

Jackson ran her closed lips, from the curve of Rosie’s exposed shoulder up to her ear, barely touching, and taking in the very essence and scent of her lover. When Rosie felt Jackson breathe in her ear, “I love you, you’re mine to love and adore. I’ll spend eternity proving it to you. She moaned then leaned her head to the side as she felt Jackson’s teeth nip at her neck. After each bite a tongue laved the reddening mark. Rosie’s arm came round to pull Jackson’s head further into her.

In the room, the only sounds that could be heard were the breathy moans of pleasure coming from Rosie, then the sound of a zipper being lowered, as Jackson took they’re lovemaking to the next stage. Rosie allowed her dress to slip down and pool at her feet, then kicked it to the side. Rosie lifted her head to find Jackson looking at her body hungrily in the mirror in front of them. She wore a black bra and panties set that took Jackson’s breath away. Rosie reached back for her lovers hands and placed them on her bare stomach. “Oh God hippy girl. Thank you for letting me touch you.”

“Touch me more.” Rosie moaned.

Jackson pulled her hands back and quickly divested Rosie of her bra and panties, leaving her naked. Using the back of her hand and fingers, Jackson softly traced from the top of Rosie’s spine, down and round her hips. Momentarily losing control and her promise to herself to go slow, she pulled Rosie’s hips back and ground herself into Rosie’s buttocks. “Oh God darlin’, it terrifies me how much I want you, I’m frightened of scaring you.”

Rosie saw in the reflection that Jackson was staring hard at her breasts, and lifted her hands on top of them to encourage her. “I don’t scare easy soldier boy. Squeeze.”

Jackson wasted no time in squeezing and pinching her new lovers nipples.

“I want your mouth on my breasts Jack.” Jackson spun her lover round and kissed her deeply. Rosie wrapped her legs around Jackson’s waist allowing her lover to carry her over to the bed. Jackson lowered her carefully down and quickly took her shirt off. Rosie noticed she didn’t wear a bra but a sports compression shirt. It seemed to make her muscular shoulders and arms all the more prominent.

Jackson peeled it and the last of her clothes off, and came down to lie beside her, Rosie gently stroked along the muscular contours of Jackson’s body. “I love how your body is so different to mine.”

“You do?”

“I do.” Rosie did mean it. Despite her protestations to the contrary, who Jackson was, and how she appeared was exactly what she wanted and needed.

“I have never felt like this before Jack.” She trailed a finger down Jackson’s lip. “I need you inside of me.”

“Oh yeah? why?” Jackson trailed her fingers across Rosie’s bare stomach, driving her to distraction.

Realizing she was being teased she rolled Jackson over until she was sitting on top of her waist.

She picked up her lover’s hands and placed them on her breasts. Jackson smiled, playing along for the moment.

Rosie’s hips began to rock and Jackson could feel how excited she was, but it didn’t seem to be enough. “Jack I need you inside now.”

In a second, Rosie was on her back with Jackson over her, holding her wrists above her head.

She struggled a bit then realizing it was fruitless gave up.

“I think I asked you why you want me inside you?”

I should have expected this. Thought Rosie, her frustration reaching boiling point.

“I’ve given you such a hard time about being butch and manly, that now you’ve got me, you’re going to make me beg.”

Jackson smiled slightly at the feisty comment. “No darlin’, I just want to know that you really want it. I know I want to be so deeply inside you, but do you truly want it? Want me to have you?”

A tiny part of her brain, the stubborn feminist part, felt like she should rebel in some way, but the majority of it and her body were screaming to beg Jackson for her touch.

Jackson watched Rosie’s eyes soften.

Jack I don’t know why, I only know that I need it like I’ve never needed anything In my life. If you want me to beg, I will. Just please fuck me.”

“Jackson kissed her with such passion that she wondered how she’d ever lived before this big tough woman came into to her life.

Jackson relaxed her grip, keeping one hand on Rosie’s wrist and the other traveled down and slipped inside her lover.

As she started to thrust Jackson moaned. “Oh darlin’, you’re so wet for me.”

“Yes, Jack. More.” Although her wrists were seemingly held captive, she could have gotten out of it easily, but she enjoyed the sensation of being out of control and unable to stop her impending orgasm.

Jackson could feel Rosie tightening around her fingers, and it was the best feeling in the world to be allowed to touch this woman and to bring her pleasure.

“That’s it darlin’, come for me.”

“Harder Jack. Oh God!”

Rosie’s orgasm hit her deep and hard leaving her breathless, and before she had time to think, Jackson was coaxing her clitoris back to life with long licking strokes from her tongue. “Jack! What . . .” And she came again.

“This time she pulled Jackson up by her head and kissed her thoroughly. “Woah soldier boy! That was . . .God I love you.”

Jackson’s heart swelled. “I love you too Hippy girl. You make me so happy.”

“Let me make you happier. Go put it on.”

“What?” Said Jackson, feigning innocence.

Her lover giggled and smacked her bare hard buttock. “You know exactly what. Don’t try and tell me you don’t own one.”

Jackson pretended to think hard. “I thought you wouldn’t like that? That it would symbolize my dominance over you?”

Rosie started to throb again at the thought of Jackson hard and ready for her. “Hmm? Did I say that? I’m sure I would never say something like that, and who says you’ll be in a position to dominate?”

Suddenly Jackson became worried and sat up. “Em . . .You know I love you more than anything in the world but I don’t know if I could do . . .”

Rosie realized she must have assumed Rosie wanted to use the strap on her. “Oh no I don’t mean that. I love all of who you are, and I wouldn’t want you to change. Just trust me. Go get hard for me!”

Jackson then moved very quickly.

****

Oh fuck! Rosie was so right about trusting her! Jackson thought. She watched with lustful adoration as her lover, lifted her hips slowly up and down on her strap on. When Jackson had come back to be bed with it on, Rosie’s passion was a flamed once more. Although Rosie had never used one before, when she told her lover what she wanted to do, Jackson guided her on top and then allowed her girlfriend to set her own pace, allowing her to get used to the full feeling inside.

Now, Rosie couldn’t get enough, she ground down into Jackson’s pelvis, eyes closed, lost in passion and lust. Jackson brought her hands to Rosie’s hips, helping to pull her down harder. It had been a long slow ride and they both had a slick sheen of sweat covering their bodies.

“Oh darlin’, yeah just like that.” Jackson started to quicken the pace with her thrusts upwards, her orgasm coming closer and closer.

Feeling the change Rosie opened her eyes and came down to face Jackson, and said in a breathy voice. “Jack, you feel so good. You’re making me come again, I want you to come with me. Inside with your cock.”

That tipped Jackson over the edge, her grip on Rosie’s hips was almost painful as she ground herself into her. “Jesus! Fuck!” Jackson shouted as Rosie watched her lover arch her upper body back. She thought Jackson looked stunning as she came, every strong muscle in her body became prominent and taut. Rosie’s attention was so intent on her partner that her own orgasm caught her unaware. She fell forward into Jackson’s kiss and rode it out. Jackson rolled her round underneath her again. She looked at the young woman who had captured her and said, “Hippy girl you have the power to destroy me, you own me and my soul.”

Rosie felt the tears come to her eyes, she knew what saying that meant, to such a proud guarded person like Jackson Hunter.

She placed her hand over Jackson’s heart. “I’ll keep your secrets and your heart safe Jack. I love you.”

****

Jackson became aware of the high pitched ringing noise of her phone. As she turned to grab it, she was hindered by the young woman, lying across her body. She grinned and kissed the dark head on her chest, before stretching for her cell.

“Hunter.”

“Hey buddy! Where are you?”

“Wh . . .Dylan?”

Rosie began to wake and squirm closer into Jackson’s side. “Shh! Too early.” She mumbled.

“Yeah it’s me. You were coming over this morning remember? We were going to work out and then go pick a Christmas tree with Molly while Emmie and Rosie go Christmas shopping? Any of this ringing a bell buddy?”

Jackson held her hand to her head. “Oh yeah, Christmas shopping, I remember.” With all the stress and excitement about her date, she had forgotten about the plans to help Dylan bring home the Christmas tree.

At the words ‘Christmas shopping’ Rosie head popped up. “Oh no! What time is it? I’m supposed to meet Emily.”

Jackson mouthed “It’s okay, wait.” Hoping she wouldn’t run from her bed.

“Wait, is that Rosie’s voice? In your bedroom, at this time in the morning?” Dylan asked in a teasing voice.

“Yes It is. What of it?”

Jackson heard Dylan shout to her fiancée in the background, “Hey Emmie, I told you Jackson’s cooking would blow her clothes off!”

“Morgan, I’m so going to knock you on your ass!” But she felt better when she heard a soft smacking noise and Dylan say. “Ah! that hurts you know!”

She sniggered as Emily had beaten her to it. “Eh . . .well Emmie says to tell you both not to worry about the time, and you’re welcome to come over for lunch first.”

“I’ll talk to Rosie but I’m sure that’ll be fine. Okay, bye.”

When Jackson hung up she saw a worried look on Rosie’s face. Please don’t run from me hippy girl!

“Hey, you okay?” Jackson asked nervously.

All Rosie was worried about was missing her shopping date with Emily, not as Jackson thought, worried about waking up in her new lovers bed.

Rosie leant forward and placed a gentle kiss on Jackson’s lips. “Good morning Jack, I love you.”

The young woman quickly found herself on her back with a beaming Jackson looking down at her. “You had me worried there hippy girl. I love you too. You sure you’re okay with everything that’s happened between us?”

Rosie touched Jackson lips with her fingers and said, “Yes. I couldn’t deny what I felt for you any longer. That doesn’t mean, were not going to fight, and it doesn’t mean you don’t annoy me. If fact you annoy the hell out of me, but I love you.”

Jackson smiled smugly, then brought her lips until they hovered inches from her lovers. .”Oh darlin’, I’m going to annoy you till the end of time.”

Jackson watched Rosie lick her lips in anticipation of the kiss to come, but it didn’t. Jackson held her position, dodging her girlfriends lips as she tried to capture them. Giving up on her kiss, Rosie struggled to get up, but her new girlfriends superior strength held her down.

“Hey you big lug! Either kiss me or move!” Rosie scowled at the look of amusement on Jackson’s face.

“Uh uh hippy girl. I’ve got you where I want you.”

Rosie stopped her half hearted attempts at a struggle and put on her best disinterested look.

“Oh? And where’s that?”

“Underneath me and begging me for my kisses.”

Rosie was infuriated, and began her struggles again. “Ah! Why did I even think this would work? I don’t even like you!”

Jackson was highly amused but didn’t want to push their very new, fragile relationship too far.

“You might not like me, but you love me.” Jackson silenced her with a kiss, Rosie moaned and melted into the kiss, opening her mouth and allowing Jackson’s tongue inside.

When they broke apart for air, Rosie asked in a husky voice, “How much time do we have?”

Jackson kissed her way down her girlfriends neck while saying. “Plenty, we don’t have to go to the Morgan’s till lunchtime.”

Rosie grinned. “Well in that case you’ve got some work to do soldier boy!”

As Jackson’s lips hovered above the hard nipple in front of her, she replied. “Oh yes I do darlin’!”

She sucked in Rosie’s nipple and rolled it around her wet mouth, causing moans from the body underneath her.

“Oh God . . .yes, you have to make love to me, and since we’re going over to Emily’s you need to take me home to get changed, and that means meeting Daddy!”

Jackson stilled as her libido suddenly left her. Oh shit!

****

Jackson Hunter had never been in this position before. Her sexual conquests normally only lasting a night, she never had the need to have to meet the parents. But here she was, being dragged by the hand, up to the front of Rosie’s apartment building.

Jackson looked to the Henderson’s window and gulped as she saw the face of an older thick set man looking straight at her.

This feel a bit like being called in front of my commanding officer, except that I hadn’t been sleeping with his daughter the night before!

“Come on Jack, he’s a nice man. He’s not going to chase you with a shot gun!”

Jackson snorted, “You’re not the one walking in there after sleeping with his daughter.”

Rosie stopped and brushed some lint from Jackson’s lapels.

“Hey soldier boy. I thought a special forces op would be braver than that?”

“I would rather be heading into enemy fire than meeting your dad. What if he doesn’t like me?”

“How could he possibly not like you?”

“You don’t!”

Rosie laughed, “Yeah but I love you. You’re responsible, have a good job, and are one of the kindest people I’ve met. What’s not to like?”

The young woman stood on her tiptoes and pecked Jackson on the lips. “Let’s go lover, and if all else fails, I’ll tell him I seduced you!”

Jackson let herself be pulled towards the door. Yeah like he would believe that!

****

“Daddy, I want you to meet Jackson Hunter.”

Walt Henderson looked the stiff looking woman up and down. She had a couple of inches on the stocky compact man who didn’t look as if much would intimidate him. Rosie had never brought a date, or one of her friends home, Walt knew something was different.

“Pleased to meet you Sir.” Jackson stood at attention and held out her hand.

After a few agonizing seconds Walt took her hand. “Hunter? Hunter? Don’t I know that name? She’s not one of your hippy pot head friends is she?”

Rosie laughed and kissed her dad on the cheek. “Daddy! No she’s not. She’s Dylan and Emily’s bodyguard, remember? She was in the army?”

Walt’s features softened. “Military eh? Isn’t Hunter the one you keep complaining about? I thought you couldn’t stand the woman?”

Rosie blushed and looked sheepishly at her love. “No daddy! She annoys me to distraction, but we’re right for each other.” The young woman gazed up lovingly at Jackson. “It just took me a little while to see that.”

Walt watched as they gazed lovingly at each other. Well Rosie girl, looks like someone has finally captured your heart. Hunter, Are you going to be the one I lose my girl to?

“So what are you doing today young lady?”

“I’m just going to get changed and Jackson’s taking me over to Emily’s. We’re going Christmas shopping remember? I’ll be back for dinner though. I’ll leave you two to chat, while I get changed then.”

Jackson gave her girlfriend a pleading look but Rosie just skipped off with a smirk on her face.

Walt took a seat in his armchair and said “Well sit and tell me about yourself then Hunter.”

“Yes Sir.” Walt watched Jackson sit rather stiffly smiled to himself. None of my little girls friends would call me Sir. You might be alright.

“So? You were in the army Rosie said?”

Jackson was dreading having ‘the talk’ with Rosie’s father but this was some common ground she could work with.

“Yes Sir, I’m from a military family. My father, now a General, works with the Pentagon. I served ten years before I left. The last few years I was a Lieutenant Colonel in special ops, part of a cultural support team in Afghanistan. There were villages and settlements that consisted largely of women and children, and it made missions less volatile if a female unit headed up any of those missions.”

Walt nodded his head in understanding. “Sounds impressive.”

“I loved my time in the army Sir, and I was proud to serve my country.”

Hmm. I think I like this one after all. Thought Walt.

“I was five years in service myself. Then when I met my wife and got married, I decided to get a regular job. It’s hard being a military family, moving around all the time.”

“It is very hard on a family.” Jackson knew only too well, what toll it had on a family.

“Why did you leave if you don’t mind me asking?” Walt saw a shadow of loss across Jackson’s face. After losing his wife to cancer when Rosie was so young, he knew the look only too well.

“I . . .uh. My sister was killed in Afghanistan. I couldn’t . . .well I knew I had to move on with my life. Try something new. We we’re very close.”

“Has Rosie told you about her Mother?”

“She has Sir, I am very sorry about your wife.”

Walt nodded. “Thank you. I only ask because I understand the pain of losing someone you love.”

“You’ve done a wonderful job taking care of Rosie Sir. She’s a beautiful, good and bright girl.”

Feeling a little emotional, Walt stood and picked up his wife’s photograph from the side table.

“It hasn’t been easy. A young girl needs her Mother, but we struggled through together. Because of that I am very protective of my daughter.” Walt turned round and gave Jackson an intimidating look.

“Are you serious about my daughter? Or are you just out for fun? Rosie may appear tough on the outside, she’s had to be. Sometimes she’s had to pull me through the grief we had to bare, but inside she’s a tender soul, with a heart of gold. You are the first date she has ever brought home. That tells me you have gotten into her heart. I want to know you are not going to hurt her or take her for granted.”

Woah! The “What are your intentions speech!” I never thought I’d have this conversation!

What Jackson and Walt didn’t know, was that Rosie had finished getting changed, and was also anxious to hear Jackson’s answer.

“Sir. I have never been more serious about anything in my life. I love your daughter with all of my heart. I think you know what my word of honor means to me with my background serving our country. I give you my word of honor that I will never intentionally hurt your daughter, and I’ll will try my level best to make her happy.”

Walt liked what he heard but was still concerned. “Rosie is more mature than a lot of girls her age, but she’s still only 23, I’m guessing a lot younger than you. Have you considered that?”

Walt was right. At 35, Jackson did have a few years on her girlfriend, and if she was honest, it probably did effect the different outlooks on life, but that didn’t change the fact that they were meant for each other.

“I realize that Sir, and I won’t push Rosie into something she’s not ready for. I will give her the room to grow and reach for her dreams, but I will be there waiting for her, to love and support her.”

In the hall, Rosie wiped a tear away from her eye. She is the one. My heart knew it but my brain nearly messed this up for me.

She collected herself and walked into the room. Both Jackson and her father stood. “I’m ready? You two get to know each other?”

“Yeah I think we understand each other, don’t we Jackson?”

“Absolutely Sir.”

The older man smiled and said, “Call me Walt.”

****

Emily checked the food in the oven and said to herself. “Okay, another ten minutes and we are good to go.”

She jumped and grabbed hold of the kitchen top when from nowhere Molly came crashing into the kitchen screaming.

“Molly! Don’t scream!” Although she was making progress, her anxiety was still triggered by sudden loud noises or being caught unawares.

Seeing her little girls face crumple, Emily took a breath and smiled. “It’s okay sweetie. You just gave mama a surprise.”

“Sorry mama. Mom chasing me.” At the mention of her name Dylan came bounding into the kitchen and lifted Molly up in the air. “Got you now little smurf!”

Molly giggled as her Mom tickled her tummy. It gave Emily heart that despite their problems, some semblance of normal life was returning to they’re home.

“No Mom, no ickle monster! Me want to say acton to mama.”

“That’s action Molls. Here you go.” Dylan put her down and handed her a small, expensive looking video camera she had brought in.

“Press this button okay?”

Molly put the gadget to her eye and said. “Acton mama.”

Emily gave her fiancé a rather unimpressed look. “Why is your daughter running around with an expensive video camera TV star?”

“Tell Mama Molls.”

“We makin a vido for Santa mama!” Molly said excitedly.

“A video for Santa huh?”

Dylan walked over and put her arm round Emily. “Yeah mama smurf. Most normal kids write a letter to Santa. But Molls and I thought, the Morgan’s aren’t like most people, we’re much more up to date than that! So we are gonna shoot a video and email it to the North Pole, and I have it on good authority that Santa will send a message back to us.” Dylan winked at Emily. She smiled warmly and gave Dylan a kiss on the cheek. “You are so sweet goofy.”

Just then the front door buzzer went. “That’ll be Jackson and Rosie. Just in time, the foods nearly ready.” Said Emily.

Molly made a run for the door shouting, “Me let Dackson and wosie in!”

When Dylan went to follow Emily said, “Dyl, I’ll need you to lift these dishes from the oven. I can’t mange on my own with this stupid cast on.” Her injuries still got her down. Not only trying to do household tasks with one arm, but she still got bouts of dizziness when she bent down, due to her recovering head injury.

Dylan took Emily’s face in her hands and kissed her lips softly. “Hey, it won’t be for much longer, and until then, I’m here to help okay?”

Emily nodded, being grateful for the reassurance her partner always gave her.

“Now I’ll go and see to our new lovebirds.”

****

Since they kept the front door locked, Molly was struggling to open the lock.

“Wait up Molls, I’ll get it.”

“Me say acton Mom?”

“Okay, you get the camera ready.” Molly lifted the camera lens to her eye and brought her little hand down. “Acton!”

On her daughters signal, Dylan opened the door wide to find Jackson and Rosie engaged in a passionate lip lock.

Not realizing the door had been opened or they were being watched, the new couple carried on regardless.

Molly lowered her camera and looked up at Dylan. “Why Dackson doing that to Wosie Mom?”

“Eh? Why don’t you ask Mama later okay?” Dylan turned her attention to the amorous couple and said, “Hey Jackson! You want put the girl down? You’re corrupting my kid!”

The couple broke apart abruptly, both looking somewhat confused. “Wh . . .What.”

“Hi Dackson! Hi Wosie!”

Dylan was highly amused as she watched Rosie push Jackson away from, her cheeks bright pink.

“Hi Sweetie, what are you doing?” Rosie asked Molly.

“Me making a film for Santa. Come see!” Rosie allowed herself to be pulled into the apartment.

Dylan was delighted to see her two friends together. She knew how much Rosie meant to her buddy, but she couldn’t resist a little gentle ribbing.

“What took you so long? Did Rosie lose the key to the handcuffs?”

“Ha ha! Very funny, you can lug the tree you want back yourself then.” Jackson groused.

Dylan punched her gently on the arm. “Hey I’m only kidding buddy, you know that. Listen, I’m really happy for you, for you both. So is it serious?”

Jackson gave her a big beaming smile. “Oh yeah. I’m never letting go of that girl now I’ve got her.”

“I couldn’t be happier. C’mon, let’s go get our girls.” Hearing those words made Jackson beam with pride.

****

After sharing a happy lunch together, Emily and Rosie were preparing to leave for the shops.

Emily grabbed her purse and said, “Now remember and keep a tight hold of Molly at the Christmas tree farm. If you turn round for a minute, she’ll be off like a shot.”

Dylan helped Emily on with her coat, the cast on her arm made it difficult to get it on.

“I know, I’ll be careful. Are you sure you don’t want Jackson to come with you? You are going to get attention out there. You might feel panicked. I could go to the tree farm with Molly on my own, or we could wait till tomorrow.”

Emily placed her delicate hand on Dylan’s broad chest. “Thank you honey, but I won’t be on my own. Rosie’s there and your mom is meeting us in town. I need to start doing normal things, yes it’s scary, but I want to face it. Anyway, we promised Molly we would put the tree up tonight. I’ll be fine.”

Dylan pulled Emily towards her and whispered in her ear. “I’m so proud of you Emmie. You are doing great.”

They were interrupted by Rosie and Jackson joining them at the door, Rosie clearly annoyed about something.

“Look, you’ve said it now Jackson, so just don’t make it any worse! I’m not some little lady you’ve got to take care of!” Dylan smirked and raised an eyebrow to Emily.

“I didn’t mean it that way okay! I’m sorry. Argh! You are being totally unreasonable.” Jackson face was full of frustration.

“Are you ready to Em?” Rosie ignored her new lover.

“Fine! Just ignore me.” Jackson stomped off toward the kitchen.

“Yes, all ready.”

As they were about to walk out Dylan caught Emily’s hand and said. “Remember, just get a few things. I can do all the mad running about the stores for most of the stuff we’ll need. You’re still recovering from a head injury.”

“I know. I’ll be fine. Oh and remember Molly needs her hat, scarf and gloves, and you better talk to Jackson and see if she’s okay. Bye honey.”

“Yeah I’ll remember.”

Dylan closed the door and headed off to the kitchen mumbling. “Why do I always have to talk?”

She found her friend at the kitchen table dialing a number on her cell phone. “Um . . .I’m really sorry darlin’. Don’t be pissed at me. I won’t ever say that again okay? Forgive me?” Dylan watched a big smile break out on Jackson’s face. “I love you darlin’. Have fun okay?”

Dylan laughed and shook her head as Jackson ended the call.

“Hunter. That was pathetic! What was that? Two minutes?”

“Hey, I don’t care.”

“What did you even do?”

“I just said, when she gets back here to call my cell and I’ll go down and get her shopping bags. She asked why? I said it’s what people in love do, take care of each other, and let’s face I’m stronger.”

Dylan looked confused. “But that’s true. I mean, you are bigger and stronger than her.”

“I know that and you know that, but she accused me of subjugating her and trying dominate her with my pseudo masculinity.”

“I don’t even know what that means? You apologized for that?” Dylan said sounding confused.

“Yep, sure did.” Jackson replied without hesitation. “I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. I love that girl and if I have to crawl? I’ll crawl.”

Dylan stood beside her and thought about how she was exactly the same with Emily.

She looked at Jackson with a goofy smile and said, “Yeah, great isn’t it?”

“Yeah, in any case, I know she loves it, deep down, being taken care of. Her feminist brain just likes to remind her it’s there sometimes.” They both laughed at this, until they were interrupted by Molly running in still holding the video camera.

“Mom! Dackson we go get the tree now?”

“Okay smurf, let’s get you ready. Mama says you need hat, gloves and jacket, so let’s put this camera away and get going.

****

Despite being recognized, Emily was able to have a great time out shopping. It felt freeing to be picking out Christmas decorations and gifts, without constantly worrying about Toni, her health or state of mind. The one thing Emily was eternally grateful for was knowing that Toni was dead and gone. She may be able to get into her head from time to time, but she knew it would have been worse if Toni had been in prison, watching her every move in the media. No, Emily was glad she was dead, and grateful that Dylan had the courage to do it. If that made Emily evil or bad, she didn’t care.

Emily, Rosie and Patricia, were enjoying a very welcome sit down and cup of coffee after some serious shopping. She watched Pattie laugh at something Rosie had said, and felt a contentment she had hadn’t felt in a while. It felt wonderful to have an extended family. Although she initially been wary of Dylan’s parents, after freezing her fiancé out for so long. She had come to truly appreciate Patricia’s friendship. She adored her new Granddaughter and had been a tremendous help to them when Emily had been sick.

“How are you feeling dear? Are you ready to try some more stores? Or have you had enough?” Patricia asked.

“No, I’m ready for more. It’s great to be out.”

Rosie looked up from her cell phone. “Dylan hasn’t tweeted anything for a long time. I kinda thought she would today.”

Emily sighed. “Yes I know. She thinks she made it easier for Toni, because she was so open about our life and what we were doing. I try to tell her that not using these things wouldn’t have changed anything. It’s been such a big part of her life, and a great way for her to communicate with her fans, I think it would be wrong to give it up completely.”

Patricia put down her coffee cup and said. “We’ll I don’t understand these new things, but I think Dylan is right. She’s putting her family first. That’s what’s important.”

Emily smirked at Rosie. “I know, but she has her career to think of too.” Emily told her soon to be mother in law.

“So where to next?” Asked Rosie.

“Well we have decorations, so I think the toy store.” Emily couldn’t wait. Life had been so hard since Molly was born, and she to scrimp and save just to pay rent and keep clothes on their back. At Christmas time she was always worried about money and how she was going to buy Molly a toy or two. Now she could enjoy buying Molly some toys without the worry. She didn’t want her little girl to be spoiled, and she knew that she would have problems with Dylan spoiling their daughter with gifts, but it would be fun.

As they stood up ready to hit the toy store, Rosie asked, “Em what are you going to get Dylan for Christmas?”

“That is the million dollar question.”

Then as she thought about gifts. She realized what was important to Dylan, and smiled. I know exactly what to give you goofy!

****

‘In two miles turn right.’ The vehicle’s GPS announced.

“Just another few minutes Molly.” Dylan had driven them the forty five minute ride to the Christmas tree farm in New Jersey.

Jackson looked at her from the seat beside her, clearly highly amused about something. “What?” Asked Dylan.

“You gave your GPS your own voice?”

“What? What’s wrong with that? It came with the option of using celebrity voices. I’m a celebrity, and I trust myself to give directions.” Dylan felt this was perfectly reasonable and rational.

“You’ve got some serious ego going on there boss.”

The voice then came from the GPS ‘You have arrived at your destination.’

Dylan gave Jackson a cheesy grin. “See? Who better to get us there than me? Come on little smurf. We got tree hunting to do!”

They had wandered through the trees for a while, and Molly’s initial enthusiasm was waning, especially when she spotted there were hay rides to be had and a children’s play park.

“Dis one pwetty Mom. ”

“Hmm . . .nah it’s a bit on the small side.”

“How big does it have to be?” Asked Jackson.

“At least nine or ten foot I would say.”

“Nine or ten? That’s big.”

“I have high ceilings, and a big apartment. It needs to be big. Why do you think I wanted your help lugging the thing home? I want it to be perfect.”

Dylan pulled Molly back by her hood, after she started to wander off.

“Molls, stay beside me. You know what your Mama would do to me if I lost you?”

Dylan’s only disguise was her Armani beanie hat, and it wasn’t doing much to keep her identity hidden. She had been approached for autographs and pictures a lot. Although Jackson did her best to keep the more overly enthusiastic people away. No matter that she was here as a family friend, Jackson couldn’t help but naturally fall into her role as bodyguard.

“Me want to play Mom!”

Dylan looked over toward the play park and noticed there was a hot chocolate stand and some benches next to the play area.

“Okay, how about this. We take a break and get some hot chocolate, you have a quick play, then we’ll carry on and find our family tree? If you’re good, you can have a hay ride before we head home.”

“Yay! Come on Mom!

****

They got some hot chocolates and sat on the bench beside the play equipment.

“So what do you think? Could you help me with it?” Dylan had filled in Jackson on her Christmas present idea for Molly, and to some extent Emily.

“Of course I’ll help. You just tell me when and where to pick it up and I’ll keep it at my place. I wonder what I should get Rosie? I’ve never bought a romantic present, or any presents before, apart from Sarah.”

Dylan took a sip of the hot sweet chocolate drink and said, “What about your parents?”

Jackson laughed in a way that conveyed not an ounce of humor. “My father doesn’t have time for Christmas and my mother always goes on a cruise. I usually just send her a gift certificate. We are not a normal family.”

Dylan thought back to the last few Christmas’s she had spent alone, without her parents. She could still feel the bitterness, with her dad especially, but she swallowed it down. Dylan looked toward Molly clambering over the play equipment, smiling and happy. If she kept holding a grudge she would deprive both Emily and Molly of the extended family they had come to love.

“Our family Christmas’s were always great, Joey and I had a ball, and that’s what I want for Molly. The last few years, on my own were . . .hard, but now I just can’t wait.”

****

“So? tell me about last night!” Emily and Rosie were finally left alone for a gossip while Patricia went to the men’s department to pick something up for Tommy. Emily was feeling the pace, not being up to full strength yet, so they found somewhere to sit while they waited on Patricia.

Rosie’s cheeks matched her name as she thought back to last night, and being under Jackson.

“It was wonderful. She was passionate, tender and made me feel extremely loved and adored . . .”

“That’s great Rosie. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you two together. You make a great couple.”

“She was a bit hesitant about showing her butch side. I sure got her to forget that and open up to me though.”

She covered Rosie’s hand with her own and said, “Well you do sort of give the impression that her butchness was not something that you’d like to embrace.”

“Yes I know.” Rosie said, letting out a long sigh. “I’ve never been around women like Jackson or Dylan before. In all the gay rights campaigns and protests I’ve been a part of, since I was a teenager, I’ve fought stereotypes. I always thought of butch as an insult that straight people have thrown at us. You know, we must secretly want to be with a man or be a man. We couldn’t possibly just like other women.”

“Oh don’t I know it. I had the phrase ‘if you want someone who looks like a man, then be with a man.’ Thrown at me a lot in college, simply because of my preferences.”

Rosie looked down, feeling a bit ashamed. “I have to admit, I’ve said words to that affect more than once. My group of friends are the same. I always have dated women on the boyish/androgynous side. Jackson says they don’t have the guts to be themselves like she does.

From the first time I saw Jackson, she made me feel . . .I thought it was anger and annoyance, but I know it was pure attraction and lust. Then when I came to know what makes her the person she is, I fell in love.”

Emily added. “Women like Jackson and Dylan are true to themselves. They don’t let themselves be swayed by society or their own lesbian community.”

“I realize that now, it was hard accepting that’s the type of woman that excites me. Jackson once told me that she wasn’t afraid of her masculinity, but I think I might have made her fearful of showing me that side. I know I’ve given her a hard time about it.”

Emily looked up and saw Patricia coming towards them.

“All ready to go. I bet you’re ready for home Emily?” Pattie asked.

“I know. It’s amazing how tired I get so quickly.”

Rosie held out a hand to help her friend up. “You’ve done really well today.” Patricia said,. “I wonder how Dylan’s getting on with Molly? It’s hard work dealing with an excitable four year old.”

“She’ll be fine.” Emily smiled warmly. “Dylan is a fantastic parent.”

****

“Fuck! Jackson she’s gone!”

Dylan had only turned to talk to her friend for a minute, when she turned back towards the play equipment, there was no sign of Molly.

She frantically ran up and down the small play area, jumping up onto the equipment, as much as her large frame allowed.

The other parents whispered to each other as they watched TV star jump around in utter panic.

Jackson grabbed hold of Dylan’s jacket and pulled her down from the play equipment. “Dylan, calm down! She won’t be far.” She saw the panic in her friends eyes that she had seen when Toni had taken Emily.

“Listen, don’t panic. Something probably just caught her eye and she went after it. It’s nothing sinister. We’ll find her okay?”

Dylan grasped Jackson’s shoulders. “You don’t understand, Emily goes for four years keeping her safe, and one of the first few times I’m left in charge, I lose her! I’ve lost my daughter! Emmie will kill me, even when we find her, and you!”

Jackson’s cool suddenly left her realizing the implications of facing the music. “Shit! Let’s ask around.”

A couple of the parents had said they thought they saw the little girl dart off as the tractor giving hay rides trundled past. They ran over to talk to the driver but he hadn’t seen her.

Dylan looked at the rows and rows of Christmas trees ahead of her. “She must have gotten lost in there. Let’s split up.”

Jackson took one side and Dylan the other, both methodically making their way around.

As Dylan made her way down the third line of trees, her confidence at finding her little girl was turning to panic. She sent up a silent prayer.

Please God, let her be okay. Please! Morgan you’re an idiot! You think you would have learned to be careful after Emily being taken, but oh no! You’re too busy drinking hot chocolate and talking about presents to care where your daughter is! She must be so scared!

It was getting dark, which was making things worse. She rounded the head of the fourth row, and half way down the line, Dylan thought she saw something. She broke into a run and shouted “Molly! Molls! Is that you?”

Dylan came to an abrupt stop, and found Molly sitting cross legged at the foot of a tall, bushy Christmas tree.

“I found de bestest tree Mom!” Contrary to what Dylan believed, Molly was far from upset about being lost and alone.

Dylan’s panic turned to relief then to anger. “Molly! Don’t you ever run off like that again! Anything could happen to you! I was so worried. Jackson and I have been looking all over for you.”

Molly’s happy face crumpled and she burst into tears. Shit!

Dylan had never been in this position before with Molly. To make rules and discipline her daughter, had never been her job as yet. Dylan was the fun Mom, the one Molly ran to if she wanted anything because she knew she had her Dylan wrapped round her little finger.

Dylan scooped Molly up and hugged her tight. “I . . .I . . .sowry . . .mo . . .mom.” Molly struggled to speak through her tears.

“Okay. You’re safe now. Shh! Calm down, I’ve got you.” I wish you we’re here Emmie. She thought as guilt at her outburst began wash over her.

She stroked the little girls head, trying to soothe her. “It’s okay smurf. You just gave me a big fright. I love you and I was really scared when I couldn’t find you.”

Molly looked up at her mom. She couldn’t ever imagine her big strong mom being frightened of anything. “Scared mom?”

Dylan wiped the tears from Molly’s cheeks. “Yeah. Remember we talked about how we have to be extra careful because mom is on TV?”

The little girl nodded her head. “Well, you have got to stay by me or Jackson.”

Jackson had found them and came running up to join them. “You found her, she okay?”

“Yeah she’s fine, she found a tree for us.” Dylan quirked her eyebrow up to Jackson.

“Why did you run off Molls?”

“Da twactor came and I wanted to go on but It not wait for me, and I sawd dis tree. It so pwetty. I no run off again mom. I pwomise.”

Dylan kissed Molly and the nose. “Well, you’re safe and that’s the main thing. Say sorry to Jackson? She was really worried too.”

“Sowry Dackson.”

Jackson ruffled her hair. “It’s okay munchkin.”

“So? You like this tree?” Dylan asked.

“Uh huh. It’s big and bushy!”

Dylan couldn’t help but smile at her daughters enthusiasm. “Okay, well how about this. We go and tell the man we want to buy this one, he’ll get it all ready for us while you go on a hay ride, and then Mom and Jackson will get it upon the car and head home. How about that?”

Molly beamed and clapped her hands. “Yes Mom Yes!”

As they walked off toward the farm office Jackson said, “You do realize how big and heavy that tree is?”

“Yeah, but it’s a great one and Molls loves it.”

I hope Emily sees it that way! Jackson thought.

****

Later that night Dylan, Emily and Molly were in the family room, putting up the Christmas decorations. While Molly played with the angel for the top, Dylan was putting on the lights, with help from Emily. Christmas music came from the speakers on the wall, and the fire crackled in the background, creating a cozy atmosphere.

Dylan had been dreading going home to her fiance after losing Molly, but it had been the little girl who had had been given the talking to not her. Dylan still felt guilty though.

“Ah, Emmie? I’m really sorry about today. I honestly only turned round for a second.”

Emily tried to soothe her partner by giving loving strokes to her arm.

“I know honey. She’s so quick and can be off before you know it.”

“But I don’t want you to think you can’t trust me with our daughter. ”

“Do you think she hasn’t run off from me before?”

Dylan looked surprised. “What? She has . . .?”

“Of course! Look at how active she is? She has run off in the store a few times. Usually when she sees candy or if she sees some toys. She just thinks you’ll be right behind her, then she turns round and you’re not there. I’ve lost her a few times in stores.”

“I thought you’d be so pissed at me, and I made Molly cry when I gave her into trouble.” Dylan sounded worried.

God Dylan, you are so adorable! “You need to have more confidence in yourself as a parent honey. You’re learning as you go but you have good instincts, just trust them. As for upsetting Molly, does she look upset?” Emily pointed towards the little girl who was singing while playing wrapped up in tinsel.

“Dudolph da ded nose aindeer, ad a very shiny nose.” The little girl sang.

Dylan laughed and said, “I guess not.”

“No. She’s the happiest she’s ever been and that’s because of her mom. You can’t be the fun one all the time Dyl, sometimes you need to say no and tell her what’s right and wrong.”

“I like being the fun one though.”

Emily leaned up and kissed her partner on the nose. “I know you do goofy, but let’s get this finished okay? Molly, bring over the ornaments.”

“Otay mama.” Molly handed over handfuls to her moms. There were traditional wooden Santa Claus, reindeers, red, silver and clear glass ornaments, some Disney themed ones that Molly liked and an angel for the top.

Emily showed Molly how to hook them on carefully, while Dylan got the higher branches.

“You picked out some lovely decorations Emmie.”.

“I like them, I always think trees should be fun and child like. Nothing too designer looking. Your mom said she was going to look out a couple of family decorations to give us.”

“Oh yeah, I had this wooden soldier my Grandpa made for me, painted it himself and everything. Joey wanted his to be an angel but Grandpa said he wasn’t making no fairy for his grandson, so he got a reindeer!”

They both laughed at the image and Emily’s laugh turned into a big yawn. “You okay baby girl? I think you did too much today.”

“I’m fine. I just get tired so easily, but I loved it. I felt normal again, well as normal as it can be with people staring, taking pictures and asking for autographs. I mean why my autograph. I’m not the famous one.”

“You are now mama smurf. Nobody bothered you too much did they?”

“No. I had your mom and Rosie, and believe me, if they got too close, one look from your mother and they moved back pretty quickly!”

“I bet! I remember that look from when I was a kid. I’m so glad you and Molly have Mom and Dad. Mom’s a great support for you and Molly just adores them both.”

“Elp mama wiv santa.” Emily helped her daughter with a tricky decoration for small fingers.

“There you go sweetie. Yes, They really appreciate your forgiveness honey.”

Dylan shrugged. “Well life’s too short. We were all in pain, and it’s time to heal. It’s what Joey would have wanted.”

Emily looked thoughtful. “I wish my parents felt the same. My Mother didn’t even contact you when I was in hospital.”

Dylan knew this had hurt her fiancé deeply so she tried to make Emily feel better. “You’ve made your own family baby girl. If they don’t want to be a part of that, then it’s their loss.”

“Thanks for that honey. You always make me feel better.”

“That’s my job. So did you get some of the presents we talked about?” Dylan whispered, but Molly was more interested in the tree anyway.

After Molly had written out her list for Santa to make the video with her mom, both Dylan and Emily had decided she would get a couple of the gifts when she was out, but Dylan would go out to the toy store on her own and get the bulk of it, so as not to over tire Emily.

“Yes. I got a few ticked off the list, just remember not to go wild when you go to the toy store, she doesn’t need everything she’s asked for. I don’t want her to be spoiled.”

“Would I?” Dylan asked in a shocked tone then gave her a goofy smile.

Emily knew it was a hopeless task to get her partner not to spoil their daughter and just shook her head in reply.

“Okay smurf, just the angel to go. Do you want to put in on?”

“Yes Mom! Pease?” Dylan lifted Molly up high and got her on top of her shoulders.

“Okay Molls, stick it on.” Molly stretched her little arms and go it on.

“Okay Mama flick the lights.” The tree began to twinkle in sequence.

“Yay! It’s so pwetty mama look!”

“I see it sweetie.” Dylan lifted Molly down and held her in one arm, while pulling Emily into her side with the other.

Dylan sighed in contentment. This is what it’s all about. Family, and making happy memories.

“I can’t wait till next year, when we’re living at the long island house. I’ll put lights all over the outside, a light up Santa and sleigh on the roof. It’ll be so much fun!”

Emily smiled warmly. I just bet you will goofy. Why don’t you take a picture of the tree and put it on your Facebook and Twitter?”

“No. I’ve told you I’ve been far too open about my life. Some things are private.”

“Some things are private, but I bet your fans would get a kick out of seeing it. Those sort of sites made you who you are, your career. Don’t lose it.”

Dylan looked unconvinced, then Molly added, “Yeah sow our twee mom.”

She sighed knowing she would give in. “Okay!”

Dylan took the picture, and typed out the Twitter message.

The Morgan Family Christmas tree. What do you think Twitter buddies?

 

Continued in Episode 5

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