Authors: Melissa Good
Tags: #Lesbian, #Romance
She didn’t know what else to do. She moaned softly as her stomach twisted again, and her body convulsed, forcing nothing but bile up out of her guts.
Her teeth chattered uncon-trollably and made her headache even worse.
IT WAS ALMOST midnight as Dar got off the elevator and emerged into the hallway. She paused as she collected her thoughts and tried to figure out what she could say to Kerry that would excuse the disregarding of her wishes.
Then she simply shrugged and faced the door, hesitating before she knocked. There was no sound coming from the room, and Dar realized that on top of everything else, she’d be waking her partner up.
, she glanced at the key she’d been given,
might as well get this over with
Gingerly, she slid the key into the lock and opened the door.
She slipped inside and closed the door behind her. At once, she realized something was wrong. The lights were on and the room was empty, Kerry’s clothing strewn about with uncharacteristic sloppiness.
Dar heart started to pound. She glanced around, then pushed the door to the bathroom open and froze for a shocked instant before she jumped across the tile and dropped to her knees beside the pathetic figure curled up in the corner.
“K...” Dar could barely speak as she carefully lifted the disordered towels off her lover and turned her over. Kerry had been throwing up, she could tell, and crying, and Dar was a split second from calling 911 when Kerry’s eyes fluttered open and tracked to her in dire confusion. “Hey…easy.”
“D…Dar?” Kerry whispered hoarsely. “Oh…dear God…I was…praying you’d come.” She reached out a shaking hand. “I hurt so much.”
“Easy.” Dar fought down the panic with difficulty. She sat on the cold tile floor and gathered Kerry clumsily into her arms, unsure of what to do to help her. “Where does it hurt, sweet-56
“M…my head.” Kerry moaned. “How long…have I been here? It’s tomorrow already?”
“No. Shhh.” Dar cradled her gently, rubbing her neck with one hand. “They told me I’d get a fifty percent discount if I flew up tonight. I couldn’t resist.”
“Uhngh.” Kerry curled an arm around Dar’s leg and pressed her lips against the denim covering her thigh. “Tried…to take something…Kept coming back up.”
Dar reached over her head, turned the water on, and dampened a washcloth under the warming water. She pulled her arm back down and gently cleaned Kerry’s face. “So I see.”
The green eyes flickered open to peer at her, so bloodshot they seemed almost ochre in the bland light. “I’ve nev…never felt like this before. I th…it got really b...bad there, I wasn’t…I think I blacked out.”
Dar finished her task. “How’s your head now?” She pushed the damp hair out of Kerry’s eyes.
“Hurts.” Kerry closed her eyes. “Everything hurts.” She plucked at Dar’s sleeve with shaking fingers and tried to get closer. “It’s so cold.”
“C’mon, let’s get you into bed.” Dar took a deep breath and braced herself. She got an arm under Kerry’s knees and one around her shoulders, and prayed as she stood up, biting the inside of her lip as a bolt of pure agony ripped through her shoulder.
“Dar…put m’down...you’re gonna hurt yourself,” Kerry protested faintly.
“Shhh, I’m fine,” Dar said. “Hold on to my neck.”
Kerry obediently clutched at her, shivers moving through her body. “But your shoulder—”
Later for that.
“It’s fine.” With a grunt of sheer will, Dar turned, walked stolidly to the bed, and let Kerry down onto it. She pulled the blankets down and tucked them around her lover’s chilled body, hearing and feeling the sigh of relief as Kerry relaxed onto the soft surface. “That’s my girl.”
Kerry peeked at her from half closed eyes. “Am I?” she murmured, licking her dry lips.
“Oh, yeah.” Dar managed a smile. “Still cold?”
Dar stood up and took her jacket off, then removed her sweatshirt. “Hang on, and I’ll do something about that.” She glanced around the room, then retrieved a bottle of water from the small bar and brought it back with her. “Sweetie, you need to drink some of this.”
Thicker Than Water
Kerry grimaced. “Only if you want it back in your lap.”
“Just a little.” Dar knelt and removed the bottle top, then spotted a neatly wrapped stack of straws and grabbed one.
“Here.” She guided the straw to Kerry’s lips. “Just sip it.”
“Don’t say I didn’t warn ya,” Kerry mumbled, but sucked weakly at the liquid. She swallowed the mouthful then waited, apparently very surprised when it stayed put. She drank some more, then stopped. “’Nough.”
Dar watched her quietly for a moment, then put the bottle down. She kicked her shoes off, slipped out of her jeans, and laid them neatly across the chair before getting under the covers.
Kerry kept her eyes closed, but turned over and burrowed into Dar’s body, letting out a piteous little sound as Dar folded long arms and legs around her. “Ohh. Thank God you’re here.”
Thank God I listened to my heart instead of my conscience.
Dar hugged her. “I’m here, Kerry. It’s going to be okay, I promise.”
She could feel the shivers slowly abate, and she gently stroked Kerry’s hair until the rigid muscles relaxed under her touch.
“Easy. I’ve got you.”
“Mm,” Kerry murmured. “Thank you, Lord, for hearing me begging for my Dar.” She exhaled, her teeth discontinuing their clenched chattering at last.
Dar smiled. “And here I thought you were going to be mad at me for showing up early. Should have listened to Dad. He said not to worry.”
Finally, and even though it hurt, Kerry also smiled. She tangled her hands in Dar’s shirt and made a low, contented sound.
“He was right. I needed you.”
Dar rubbed Kerry’s back very gently. “You’ve got me.”
Everything happening elsewhere faded out, becoming unimportant as she focused on this one thing that did matter. “So, I’m for-given?”
Kerry nodded weakly. “Even for putting me in the honeymoon suite.” The agony faded enough for sleep to make inroads.
“I love you.”
Dar kissed her head. “I love you, too.”
IT WAS VERY quiet in the hotel, even after dawn had burnished the window with a pale light and thrown a slender stripe of it across the large bed. Dar’s eyes drifted open to take in her surroundings, and she was a trifle confused until her memory kicked in and she remembered where she was. And why.
She was lying on her back with Kerry sprawled half over her.
Kerry pinned her firmly in place and used her shoulder for a pillow.
Dar watched Kerry sleep, noting the shadows under her eyes and the drawn look that characterized her face, even now.
Yesterday was such a trial for her
, she mused,
and today will be worse
least I’m here now and can give moral support, if not much else.
She couldn’t take charge of the situation, couldn’t shield her lover from the events or their consequences. Dar grimaced a little, unused to being in such a passive role and not liking it much. All she could do, really, was just be there for Kerry.
Like I was last night.
Dar shuddered, imagining how many hours Kerry might have been crouched on the tile in misery if she hadn’t decided to just chuck everything and jump on the next plane heading north.
To hell with everything else.
Dar closed her eyes and reveled in the warmth of her human blanket. She could feel Kerry’s breath through her cotton shirt, and she floated for a few minutes while she decided what to do next.
First things first.
Dar reached out a hand, lifted the phone receiver off its cradle, and brought it to her ear. She stabbed at the keypad and was rewarded by a pleasant Midwestern voice that sounded a little like Kerry. “Room service, please.”
A click, some canned “Sleigh Ride,” and then the phone was picked up. “Good morning! Will this be breakfast or a late night snack?” The operator chuckled.
Dar’s brow creased and she glanced at the window. “Breakfast,” she muttered.
Thicker Than Water
“Okay, well,” the woman said, “our special for you this morning is lovebird muffins with sweetheart jelly.”
Dar turned her head and stared at the phone. “What?”
“We also have splits of champagne and berries with whipped cream.”
“How about oatmeal,” Dar replied. “And a large pot of coffee, and,” she considered, “a stack of pancakes.”
There was a momentary pause. “All righty then. Anything else?” the voice chirped. “That’s for two, right?”
“Um…right.” Dar’s brow creased. “How did you know?”
“Just a lucky guess. It’ll be right up, okay?” Now the voice sounded vaguely patronizing.
“Okay, thanks.” Dar hung up, puzzled by the odd responses.
Then she remembered what suite they were in and chuckled quietly.
“What’s so funny?” Kerry asked softly, not stirring an inch.
“If I spread sweetheart jelly all over you, would you be my lovebird muffin?” Dar asked.
Very slowly, Kerry lifted her head and peered at Dar with a look of mild disbelief. “Excuse me?” Her voice cracked a little, and she cleared her throat. “Bah. Dry air.”
Dar handed her the bottle of water she’d left by the bedside.
“Here.” She guided the straw to Kerry’s lips and watched as she sucked down half its contents. “Does that mean you won’t be?”
Kerry finished, and put her head down, seemingly exhausted.
“Right now I feel more like a meadow muffin,” she muttered into Dar’s chest. “A really flat one that was out in the sun a long, long time.”
Dar stroked her back and scratched it lightly with her fingertips. “I ordered breakfast.”
“Ugh.” Kerry shook her head. “Not for me.”
Dar hesitated. “Did you eat anything yesterday?”
Kerry’s brow creased. “Just breakfast with you. I was way too stressed to eat after I got here.”
Dar drummed her fingers on Kerry’s back. “I’m no expert, but that might be why you feel so lousy. You know how you get.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Kerry asked crossly.
Dar gently cleared her throat.
Kerry sighed and burrowed back into Dar’s body. “I don’t think I can handle eggs and bacon.”
“Damn good thing, because that’s not what I ordered.” Dar smoothed down Kerry’s hair and peered at her dimly seen profile tucked against her chest. “So just trust me, okay?”
It was so nice and warm where she was. Kerry closed her eyes, wishing with all her heart they were both home with nothing 60
more to look forward to than a Saturday’s cartoons and a diving trip. “Can I just stay right here?” she asked softly, as Dar’s arm closed around her in a hug. “I don’t want to go over there, Dar.
Call it cowardice if you want, but I don’t want to face those people…or that place.” She paused. “Or him dying.” Her chest tightened, and she blinked sudden tears from her eyes.
Dar felt very much at a loss. “I know it’s tough.” She kissed the top of Kerry’s head. “I’m sorry.”
Kerry sniffled. “Me, too,” she whispered. “Thank you for being here.” She ran a finger along Dar’s ribcage. “I feel incredibly selfish, but thank you.”
Dar kept up her gentle stroking, not sure of what else to do.
“It’s not selfish. I’m glad you want me here. I know how easy it is to shut everyone out when you’re hurting.”
Kerry shifted and looked up at her. “Thinking of your mom?”
Dar’s shrug spoke volumes. “And myself. I had friends who tried to talk to me after Dad…died.” It seemed so strange to say that now. “I pushed them all away. Had to put up that tough front, like I thought he’d want me to.”
Kerry’s lips tensed in wry compassion. “That big mushball?
Dar smiled a little.
“You don’t have to worry. I won’t ever lock you out, Dar; I need you too much.” Kerry gave Dar a painfully open look, then sighed and rolled over, reluctantly releasing Dar’s body. “I guess we’d better start day, huh?”
Dar ran her fingers through Kerry’s hair, making her lay still as she savored the contact. “How’s the head feel?”
Kerry ran her thumb along the inside of Dar’s forearm. “It’s okay.” She shrugged one shoulder. “I just feel really washed out.”
She didn’t feel like moving an inch, as a matter of fact. “Tired.”
, her conscience sternly prodded.
You’re a big
girl. Life sucks sometimes, so get your ass up and deal with it.
She girded her philosophical loins and lifted her head–then was pulled back into Dar’s arms and back into her safe, warm nest.
Well, I tried.
She greedily absorbed the hug.
“You know something?”
Dar rubbed her all over, easing tiny tensions she’d hardly been aware of. “Love rocks.” Kerry sighed. She felt Dar chuckle, and the knot in her gut abruptly unraveled, making her almost dizzy with relief. She knew the day wasn’t promising to be any better than she had thought it would be the night before, but from Dar she could borrow the strength she’d need to live through it.
Thicker Than Water
DAR WATCHED HER mail download as she stood near the small table, preparing two bowls of gray, glutinous matter. She kept glancing at the bed where Kerry was tucked, the covers pulled around her and a quiet, almost remote look on her face.
She’s too pale
, Dar realized, as she continued her work.
“Mm?” Green eyes turned her way, abandoning CNN.
“I know how your family feels,” Dar kept her gaze on her oatmeal, “but do you want me to come with you today?”
Kerry had to literally bite her tongue to keep the instant yelp of “yes” from emerging. She took a breath and watched Dar’s face for a moment, seeing the careful unconcern plastered on it. Her family would hate it, yes, but at that moment, she just didn’t care.
“Yes, I would,” she heard herself say.
After a moment’s silence, Dar looked up. “But?”
Kerry simply shrugged. “But nothing. If they have that much of a problem with it, we can both leave.”