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Authors: Alison Carpenter

Cold (6 page)

BOOK: Cold
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"So why do you think you needed to find me?"

Jo considered this. Should she tell the blonde of her attraction towards other women? Her attraction in particular to petite blondes? She stuffed her hands into her pockets. "Believe me, I've been asking myself the same question. I had to come here, for my own sanity as much as anything else."

"You think you're going mad then?" Rocky pulled the hat down onto her head again, pushing aside the hair that was forced into her eyes by doing so.

Jo nodded. "This time yesterday, my life was normal. All I did was to look at a picture in a gallery."

Rocky bent and picked up her bags. "I have to go."

"What!?" Jo took a step forward, stopping quickly when the girl flinched and backed away from her. "Can I... can I see you again?"

Rocky shrugged. "Not sure. Can't imagine you being a regular down here."

"Well, if I come down, will you meet with me again?" Jo's voice was taking on a hint of panic.

"I don't know what you want from me," Rocky said quietly.

Jo saw fear in the green eyes, and a stab of guilt pierced her chest. She had put that fear there. "Just to be your friend." Jo maintained the distance between them, and there was a long silent moment, heavy with tension.

Rocky was silent, so Jo made the decision for them both. "I'll be back here this afternoon at 3. Will you meet me here?"

Taking a firmer grip on the straps of her bag, Rocky hoisted one over her shoulder. "Don't know if I'm free." She turned her back on the tall woman. "Don't count on it," she said as she walked out of the park.

Jo watched her walk away, grinning from ear to ear. "I think she likes me," she said to a pigeon, which had alighted on the picnic table.

Jo was inordinately pleased to find her Merc untouched when she returned to it. She got in and quickly started it, making sure the heat was turned up full. But instead of driving away immediately, she sat back in the plush leather seat, her hands resting lightly on the steering wheel.

So I've met her. She was cute, even cuter than her picture. I know she exists, but I knew that anyway. Didn't I? Why was I so sure? She spoke to me. What did she say? Nothing. She told me nothing. We talked about nothing. But we did talk. Didn't we? She's scared. Scared of being found. Scared of me? I hope not. She'll come back later. I know she will. I'll find out more about her then.

Jesus, what am I doing?

With a shake of her head, Jo shifted the Merc into gear and drove away, her freezing feet managing to obey the signals her brain was giving them.

 

It was nearly 3.30, and actually starting to snow lightly. Jo was a little better dressed this time, having spent the hours since her meeting with Rocky shopping. It was near to Christmas, hence more shops than usual were open on the cold Sunday afternoon. She'd found herself buying two of everything - thermal socks, shirts and gloves. She bought a pair of arctic proof boots, and a silly hat similar to Rocky's.

So there she sat, in the rapidly failing daylight. The sky was overcast, a gentle snow falling through the bare branches of the trees. On the bench beside her sat a box, her hand resting on its surface.

Jo felt more comfortable in the warmer clothes she now wore, but still wondered how people could survive in these severe temperatures. Her cheeks glowed red, and her eyes watered.

She heard the muffled sound of her cell phone, and fumbled in her pocket for it, having difficulty getting a hold of it with the thick gloves she was wearing.

She looked at the caller id on the display and rolled her eyes. "Hi, Trixi."

"Jojo, baby. Where are you?"

"Um, would you believe sitting in a park somewhere in Whitechapel?"

"
Jojo?"

"It's difficult to explain."

"I missed you last night."

"Yeah, well."

"Will you be there tonight?"

"Probably not."

"Jojo!"

"I didn't make any promises, Trix."

"You've never missed a Sunday night yet. What's going on?"

"Nothing that I have to explain to you, Trix. Now, I have to go. I'll call you when I can."

Jo snapped the cell phone shut, ending the call. She looked at the device in her hand, and after a moment's debate dialled a stored number.

"Harry?"

"Hi, Jo."

"Are you ok?"

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"I'm sorry about yesterday."

"Me too." A pause. "So what are you doing?"

Jo considered the question for a moment. Then decided to answer truthfully. "I'm sitting, freezing my rear end to a park bench, and probably being stood up."

Nothing but silence was forthcoming from Jo's phone. "Well, aren't you going to say `told you so`?"

"No, not my style, Jo. You should know that by now.... So you haven't found her yet."

"Oh yes, I found her. We arranged to meet here at 3."

"And?"

"And what?"

"Jesus Christ, Jo! What the hell's she like!?"

"Um, I only spoke with her for a short while."

"So, she can speak?"

"Of course she can speak."

"What does she look like? Well, I mean, I know what she looks like, but... well, you know what I mean."

"She's gorgeous." The words were out of Jo's mouth before she realised.

"So where is she from?"

"I don't know."

"Ok. Where does she stay?"

"Um, don't know."

"So what do you know about her?"

"Nothing."

Jo absentmindedly shut the phone, cutting off the connection. She glanced at her watch. It was nearly 4. The light was fading. And she came to the conclusion that, for the first time in her life, she had been stood up.

Part 7

Jo glanced at her watch again - nearly 4.20, and it was just about dark already. She sighed dramatically, watching the cloud as her warm breath hit the frigid air, disturbing a few snowflakes as they floated gently towards her.

She looked to her right, to the box that sat on the bench beside her. Shrugging her shoulders, she left it where it was and unfolded herself from the cold seat, swinging her legs stiffly over and stamping her feet on the ground.

Jo took a few slow steps towards the small gate at the entrance to the park, and, after taking one last glance back at the picnic table and bench, she left. And immediately stopped just beyond the high hedge that surrounded the small green.

Rocky was sitting on the low wall into which the metal railings were set. Her elbows rested on her knees, and she was staring at the ground between her scruffy boots.

"How long have you been here?" Jo asked, a little more sharply than she intended.

The girl's head didn't move. "About half an hour," the girl replied. "Can't be sure though."

"Why didn't you come into the park? I've been freezing my arse off waiting for you."

Rocky looked up, her green eyes finding those of the woman towering over her and immediately looking away. "I'm sorry," she said quietly, returning to contemplating the ground beneath her feet.

"Hey," said Jo, gently. "Look at me."

It took a few moments, but the blonde finally looked up. And she found the taller woman was offering her hand. She watched her own, gloved hand reach for the larger one, and then it was enveloped by a warmth she could feel even through the two pairs of gloves that she wore. She was gently pulled to her feet.

"Look, I'm frozen..." Jo began.

"I'm sorry," Rocky said, and from the look on her face, Jo could tell she truly was.

"Yeah well, my car isn't far. Can we go and sit there...?" She saw the fear in the girl's eyes as the blonde head jerked up and Rocky took a step back.

Jo put her hands up, trying to slow the rapidly retreating woman. "Hey, I just want to warm up, nothing else."

"I haven't... I don't..." Rocky was still backing away.

"I just want to talk with you, nothing else." She stopped and looked back into the darkened park. "I have something back there. Will you wait while I get it?"

Rocky had stopped. And was standing watching the tall woman, her arms wrapped about her small body against the cold.

"Will you wait?" Jo said again.

Rocky nodded. And Jo rushed back into the darkened park, leaning over the picnic table and retrieving the parcel.

Rocky was standing where Jo had left her when she returned. "I have some bits in here," said Jo, nodding towards the box in her arms. "Come on."

Jo turned away from the smaller woman and started striding purposefully towards the side street in which she had left her car. She glanced back to see if Rocky was following, and smiled a small smile when she saw that the blonde was, albeit at a slower pace.

"Here we are," said Jo, putting the box on the ground, and rummaging in her pockets for her keys. "I'm going to get one of those things that you whistle at," she said as she transferred her search from her jeans' pockets to her jacket pockets. "Ah, there we go." She unlocked the car and reached through to put the box on the ground. Then she opened up the passenger door and turned towards Rocky. "We can be a little warmer in here."

Rocky gazed into the car and then at the woman beside her. "I'm not..."

"Hey." Jo took a step towards Rocky and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. "That's fine, you stay here if you'd rather."

She released Rocky, pleased to see that she didn't shrink away from her touch this time, and then sat down on the passenger side of the car, her legs still outside. Almost lying backwards across the seats, she managed to get the key into the ignition and started the car up, turning the heating controls onto high.

"I'm freezing; don't know about you." Jo smiled, leaning down and opening the box. "I have some flasks of hot drinks. Tea and coffee, which do you prefer?"

Rocky was shifting from foot to foot. "Um, tea... please."

"Ok." Jo took out the silver flask and poured some of the steaming liquid into a china mug. "I never could drink tea out of plastic," she said as she handed Rocky the mug. "There's milk and sugar in the box - didn't know how you'd take your tea."

"I don't get the choice very often," Rocky said as she crouched down and added milk and sugar to her tea.

"I'm sorry?" Jo was pouring herself a mug of coffee.

"I usually get my hot drinks in plastic, or polystyrene."

Jo looked up at the girl standing above her, and found Rocky staring at her.

"What?" asked Jo.

"Why are you here?"

"I told you before, I don't really know."

"What do you want from me?"

"Would you believe nothing?" Jo cupped her hands around the warm mug, and watched as Rocky blew gently on her hot drink.

Rocky began to walk around the car, her oversize boots scuffing the ground as she went. She appeared in front of the car, her form barely visible through the misty windscreen. "What type of car is this?"

"It's a Mercedes CLK 320."

Rocky nodded. "What size engine?"

"Um, no idea. I just get in it and drive it. It goes fast, that's all I know."

Rocky walked back around to the open passenger door. "What do you do? For a living, I mean."

"Ah, well," Jo shifted uncomfortably in the seat. "I don't work."

"You don't?"

Jo shook her head. "No. I may some day, but for now I don't."

"So how do you survive?" Rocky bent at the waist and placed her mug back in the box.

"My parents." Jo couldn't look up at her. She'd never felt ashamed of her wealth and her lifestyle before. Why now?

"I have to go," said Rocky. "Edna's watching my stuff."

Jo nodded, suddenly feeling deflated and foolish. "I'll come back tomorrow."

"Why?" asked Rocky. "Why don't you just go back to your world and forget about me? Whatever it is you think you're looking for isn't here. Find another cause to ease your conscience."

"Is that what you think I'm doing?" Jo stood, throwing the mug into the box with a clatter. "Trying to ease my conscience because I'm some sort of rich bitch?"

Rocky shrugged. "We've seen it before. They come down here, do a few soup runs, and think they've done their bit. If you want to help, put some money in the poor box sometime. There are folks worse off than me." Rocky turned away from her and started walking. She looked back as she walked away. "Go home, Jo."

Jo watched her walk away, watched her thrust her hands into her pockets as she ambled along the road. Just as the blonde turned the corner, she glanced back at the dark haired woman, and Jo was sure she saw something in the green eyes.

"She feels it too," she said to herself, and eased herself out of the car. She placed the box on the seat and walked around the car, getting into the driver's side. The car had warmed up nicely in the time she'd been sitting there, so she shifted it into gear and headed home.

When Jo arrived at her small house she immediately noticed a light on in the lounge. She parked the car in the garage and made her way up the stairs. Just inside the door, she noticed the leather jacket hanging on the stair rail.

"Trix?" she called out, walking into the lounge.

"Were you expecting someone else, Jojo?"

Beatrice James, Trixi to her friends, was draped across Jo's sofa, wearing Jo's bathrobe and a smile. She pushed bleached blonde hair back from an angular face and stood to meet the dark woman half way. "I've been waiting for you, Jojo."

"So I see," said Jo, seeing the half-empty whisky glass on the coffee table.

Trixi snaked her arms around Jo's neck, pulling her down. "I missed you last night," she said, and captured soft lips with her own. Maintaining the contact, she brought her hands between them and started to unzip Jo's jacket, and once it was undone she pushed it back off the tall woman's shoulders. "And I think you missed me."

Jo hesitated for a heartbeat and then pulled the woman against her body, crushing the blonde's lips with her own.

"Oh yeah," Trixi breathed into Jo's mouth, unfastening her jeans and pulling down the fly. "I've got what you want," she husked, as she slipped her hand into the taller woman's jeans and past her underwear. Jo gasped as slim fingers delved into the liquid heat between her legs, and allowed herself to be pushed back onto the sofa.

BOOK: Cold
11.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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