The rain came down steadily; heavy sheets of it falling for the last few hours. It had turned the winding cottage roads into obstacle courses with pools of water and large branches and debris strewn across the gravel and asphalt.
Wise travelers would have avoided trying to push through such a torrent. Yet there would always be a few who had "no choice" but to go through.
Some make it just fine. Some have to face the consequences of their choice.
The blue cube van had been pushed back just barely across the road's mucky shoulder where it rested like a stuck ox. Only a few feet away was the water-filled sink hole in the road that had drowned the van's engine; its grill had branches and leaves sticking out of it, evidence of a challenge fought and lost to the aforementioned pool.
Inside the van, two people sat across from each other in the rear cargo area, staring at one another. Her name was Lena, a fourth-year university student trying to get home after aborting a trip to a cottage with a friend. His name was Marko, a young contractor also heading in the same direction coming from the same cottage. The van belonged to someone he considered a friend sometimes, but an obnoxious prick the rest of the time.
The two, for all intents and purposes, were strangers. Lena and Marko had met at the cottage just earlier that afternoon. Somehow they ended up in the van driving for about an hour-and-a-half before the storm had killed it. They'd been sitting in the conspicuous and purposefully decorated interior of the van's cargo area, a couple of battery operated lights illuminating the compartment, for about an hour, the smell of alcohol lightly pervasive in the air.
The silence between them had grown thick in the last few minutes. Marko held a tight-lipped smile on his sharp olive-skinned face. He focused his smoky hazel eyes on Lena sitting on the floor across from him.
She returned his gaze, but there was no smile on her lips; her long, smooth face was stoic; her small, tulip-shaped lips slightly pursed. Only her slender almond-brown eyes appeared to betray what she was thinking as they remained trained on the man seated across from her; the fine lines of her dark brows set heavily upon them. It was a wary expression.
Marko cocked his head slightly, raised an eyebrow and broke the silence. "So?" he asked.
Her lips seemed to tighten as she drew a deep breath. She offered no reply.
Marko took that as his signal. Slowly he rolled forward and started to move towards her. His eyes never left hers as he leaned forward and reached his hand out and touched the toes of her outstretched foot.
Lena's eyes shifted downward; she watched in furtive silence as he proceeded to run his hand from her toes, across the top of her foot and then slowly up her smooth-shaved shin. It stopped at her knee. She remained still without protest.
Marko's smile deepened. He slid his hand under her knee gently caressing the soft skin at the back of her leg. He thought he felt her tremble ever so slightly. Then he slid up and out along her outer thigh. He shifted on his knees moving closer to her as he did.
Lena felt and watched the man's rough hand as it rolled over her leg and then touched the tender flesh of her inner thigh. It moved with the deliberate ease of a breeze upwards towards her crotch. Her breathing intensified; the thumping of her heart overriding the patter of rain falling on top of the van. She stole a quick glance up at Marko, saw that his devilishly alluring eyes fixed upon her, before darting her gaze back to the hand, as it continued sliding upward.
He stopped at the bottom lip of her shorts. Still there was no response from her. Marko moved in closer now, his body, his face almost next to hers. His fingers slid underneath the leg of her shorts, pushing the material higher up her tanned, slender thigh. Her mouth slipped open now; he heard her breaths, watched her chest rise.
Lena shifted hesitantly in her seat but still said nothing.
His fingers touched the outline of the crotch of her panties, flicked at it, lifting it up but going no further. The material was so soft, so fine.
Now she looked at him, realized his face was an inch from hers. She gulped softly. Blood rushed to her cheeks.
"You can tell me to stop if you want." Marko's voice was like a tantalizing wine; just as intoxicating. "Go through or go back? Your choice."
Her brows angled down sharply.
How had she gotten herself into this position with this guy? ***
Eight hours prior to “Now” at a cottage on Raven's Lake...
Lena stepped out from the passenger side of the VW Beetle, holding her loaded school bag. The look of concern on her face was noticeable only to her apparently, as the driver --her friend Donna-- stood on the other side of the vehicle with a very pleased look of her own.
"Thank God! Fresh air!" Donna declared running her hands through her short bob of red hair. She stretched her arms out, soaking in the rustic atmosphere.
Lena was less enthused. "Why are there so many cars here?" she asked.
"Look at the trees! They're huge!" Donna went on, "The lake! Oh my God! The lake is so
"Why are there so many cars here?" Lena repeated. There were about ten cars crammed into the clearing beside the cottage.
"Well," Donna said, "I guess they belong to them."
Lena had already figured that all the people infesting the dock by the lake and the cottage's porch and hot tub had something to do with the cars. That wasn't what she was asking.
"I thought it would just be five or six people from school…and girls only," Lena remarked.
Donna wasn't listening. She was scampering like a bunny towards the cottage. She met and hugged a kinky-blonde woman who looked like she was a hippie throwback with flowers in her hair and cans of beer in both of her hands.
Arms crossed, Lena walked slowly towards them.
"Hey! Lena! You made it," the blonde said, "Welcome to Club Maureen!"
"Hey Maureen." Lena waved half-heartedly.
Maureen looked her over. "You've got to change your clothes, girl! It's so warm and perfect here!"
Donna had picked up Lena from a morning class so she still wore full-length slacks and a button down blouse. She intended to change at the cottage albeit what she brought was a bit more conservative than the bubble-gum pink bikini that the full-figured Maureen was stretching out.
"Um, Maureen," Lena said, "What are all these people doing here?"
Maureen grinned and shrugged. "I guess word got out!"
Word got out about what? This was supposed to be a quiet girls' weekend Lena had thought. Actually, she wasn't even supposed to be there. She didn't really know Maureen; she was Donna's friend. The only reason she came was at the request of Donna and she was already skeptical about how the weekend would turn out.
Donna had broken up with her boyfriend, Tobin, a week ago and was still a bit of a mess. She had called Thursday night all blubbering and begging Lena to come with her to Maureen's cottage this weekend. Lena went through her reasons for not coming. Donna countered and promised it'd just be a few people from school, all girls. Then Donna "please, please, pleased" her into submission. Inwardly, she should have known better. At best, this weekend would have been one long "Oprah" counseling session. During the three hour drive to the cottage, all Donna could do was bemoan her failures with Tobin.
But Lena liked the idea of relaxing by the lake. She had to admit, she had been stressed for months now with school and a part time job as a secretary. Her social life was shot. Once or twice, while she holed up in her small apartment studying over the weekend, the term “reclusive” had come to mind. So she decided that before she started looking for stray cats to bring home, she should do something about it. Going to a quiet cottage and relaxing for the weekend, while still sneaking in a few study sessions, was a good way to start to "do something about it".
So she was a little perturbed by "Club Maureen".
"Are all these people staying here?" Lena asked anxiously.
Maureen and Donna were downing their beers. The blonde swallowed and again shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe. Hey, it’s all good! The more the merrier! You want a drink?"
"Can we all fit?" Lena was incredulous. She looked at the cottage. It was big, but not that
Maureen was unfazed. "We have lots of room! People can share the bedrooms and we can spread out in the living room and game room..."
Lena surveyed the porch and the dock. Unconvinced she said, "There's like twenty people here...plus guys!"
Maureen was counting in her head, clicking off with her fingers. She smiled and said, "Actually twenty-five."
Lena was about to say something else but a loud engine roared as a big, battered, blue van pulled up to the cottage "car park" and blared its horn. The driver climbed out, a wild-eyed guy with brown spiked hair, and bellowed, "Woo
! It's time to rumm
Another guy, with a healthy olive complexion and short black wavy hair, came out of the passenger side looking much more subdued.
Make that twenty-seven
Maureen and Donna squealed and charged at the driver. "Kirk!" they shouted in unison.
Lena sighed, fuming on the inside, and glared silently at the bouncing trio by the van.
Marko stuffed the paperback book he had been reading into the back pocket of his jeans, then he grabbed his bag from the back of the van and slung it over his shoulder. He didn't bother to join in on the revelry with Maureen, Donna and Kirk but he winced each time one of them shouted or screamed like a lunatic. He walked around the cars and then dropped his bag on the ground and pulled out a cigarette. He lit it and took a long, much needed drag. Blowing out the smoke, he squinted. Twenty feet away, he noticed a young dark-haired woman just standing in the middle of the cottage grounds. He would have easily described her as attractive but she had a stern expression; her arms were crossed and she was dressed like a teacher.
At first he thought she was staring at him but quickly realized her hard gaze went past him and was planted on the threesome by the van. She looked pissed. He knew how she felt. Three hours in a van with Kirk had exhausted him and possibly wore out any interest in actually socializing this weekend. He picked up his bag.
Lena was going through the options in her head. Hitchhike back to the city? Maybe someone had a tent. She was so focused in her thoughts that she didn't notice the guy in the grey hoodie and blue jeans walking towards her until he dropped his bag next to her. She blinked and leaned to the side, looking down at the bag then at the man.
"Excuse me," he said to her.
Lena twitched a smile and shook her head. "It's alright," she said. She returned to gazing straight ahead.
Marko did the same, turning to face the cars, hands in the pockets of his hoodie. They stood there quietly for a minute watching the frantic conversation going on between Maureen, Donna and Kirk. "Freaks," Marko muttered.
Lena turned her head to look at him again. She squinted a bit as she watched him rock slowly on his feet.
Marko glanced over to her, his cigarette hanging out his mouth. After a moment, he pulled it out. "Oh sorry," he said apologizing for the cigarette.
She smiled again, a bit more warmly. She shook her head. "Free country," she said.
He nodded. He decided to hold out his hand. "Marko Alves."
Lena hesitantly regarded his hand, but finally accepted his handshake. As they shook, she noticed how large his hand was. It was also very rough but very warm and surprisingly gentle." Lena Han," she said and added, "Friend of the short freak with red hair."
He chuckled and smiled. "Han". Korean. Nice.
"I'm with the guy with a bottle of gin surgically stuck up his butt," Marko said.
Lena snickered. Then she inhaled and sighed, her body easing a bit. She also dropped her arms, holding them at her waist. Looking down at the ground and shaking her head, she wondered aloud, "What am I doing
Marko paused for thought then pointed at Donna and said, "You came because of her, right?"
She looked at him, surprised. She remarked, "Are you a mind reader?"
He grinned and asked bluntly, "Lesbians? You and..."
Lena blinked and gasped. She was about to object but when she saw his big, coy grin she started to laugh. "No. Not lesbians. God no," she snapped playfully, calling his bluff. "No. I'm playing babysitter."
"Would have been more fun if you were lesbians," he joked, a matter-of-fact look on his face.
In spite of her situation, she laughed again. This was good. Going from despair to something resembling enjoyment was hopeful. This guy didn't seem like he was going to add to the hell bent party atmosphere pervading the secluded cottage. Maybe it would be infectious.
"Chicka! Chicka! Chicka! Bao-bao!"
the loud one called Kirk yelled out as he strolled over, his arms draped around Donna and Maureen. "Hey, bro'! You picked out your playmate for the weekend already?"
Lena cringed. Marko's demeanor also darkened noticeably as he frowned at Kirk.
"Woo! You're going for Chinese take-out, eh?" Kirk added leering at Lena.
Marko could have snapped but he didn't. "Shut it already, Kirk," he said with a low grumble. He didn't shout but no one mistook him as being anything but serious. Both Kirk and the two girls shifted uneasily.
Marko glanced at Lena. He could tell her mood had dropped again.
Kirk held up his hands and grinned, pretending to back off. Donna and Maureen slipped out from underneath his arms.
Maureen waved to Donna and Lena. "Come on! Grab your bags. Lena? I can show where you can change in the cottage."
Kirk pulled at Marko's sweater and thumbed over to the docks where the coolers were. Marko dragged his feet following him. He glanced back at the girls who were walking towards their car. Lena trailed the other two. She looked back toward him and smiled gently.
He nodded and waved. As he walked towards the dock, he looked up through the trees. The clouds were slowly swallowing up the blue sky.
Lena sat on the bed dejected. She didn't ask if that was the room she'd be staying in but the fact that there were at least five other overnight bags already scattered on the floor led her to doubt that she'd have much personal space this weekend. She could hear the loud conversations and the laughter taking place all around the cottage. She sighed again and repeated the mantra "relax, relax" over and over.
Another one of her mental relaxation exercises was to try to recall the best moment of the day so far. Marko had made her laugh. That was something on a day like this. He had a nice smile and really cool hazel eyes, too. Never hurts to have the spirits lifted by a cute guy, though she would never pin her hopes for happiness on some "cute guy". Besides, she had little time or interest in that sort of thing, guys, right now.
So what to do? First things first, change her clothes into something more..."cottage". Lena stood up and opened her bag, pulling out some khaki hiking shorts and a small black, light cotton sweater. Then she started to unbutton her blouse.
On the deck that circled around the entire cottage, Kirk stood on the other side of the bedroom window peeking through a crack in the shutters. He took a sip of his beer and chuckled quietly to himself.
Marko came around the corner and stopped. He shook his head and called to him, "Yo Kirk, what the hell..."
Kirk immediately turned to him, a finger over his grinning lips. He waved him over.
Marko sighed and rolled his head then walked over.
Kirk moved from the window and leaned up against the wall resting his hand on Marko's shoulder. He snickered then said, "You can thank me later, man, but if you'd like a nice little preview of your Chinese Delight, take a look."
Marko frowned. Then all patience drained from him in an instant. He grabbed the smaller man's collar and yanked him close. He snarled, "How old are you? Act like a fucking grown up!"
"Hey! Hey! Hey!" Kirk said, his hands up, "Watch it!"
"First of all she's Korean," Marko said, "Second of all, you're a dick!" Then he spun around, dragging then shoving Kirk away from the window.
Kirk dropped his beer. He looked down at the can spilling forth its liquid happiness onto the deck. "Aw man. That's just sad," he moaned. He was more dejected about the loss of his beer than the obvious anger of his friend.
"Go stick your head in the lake or something, jack-ass," Marko pushed him away.
Kirk skulked away thinking of where to refresh his drinking hand.
Marko, standing in the middle of the deck, in front of the window, watched him disappear around the corner. Satisfied his idiot friend wasn't going to come back he eased off a bit. He turned his head and looked at the window. He could see the crack where Kirk had been peering through; he could see motion in the room. Turning his attention to the deck floor, he thought for a long moment.
Lena slipped on the sweater. She pulled her long hair out from under the collar then stretched it over her shoulders. As she brushed her hair, she thought she saw movement from behind the shutters of the window. She walked around the bed and drew the shutters open. There was nothing but a clear view of forest just a few feet from the deck Lena pursed her lips tightly then turned and exited the bedroom.
When he heard her close the door, Marko stepped away from the window side.
Five hours prior to “Now”...
Somehow, Lena's day had gone from bad to worse.
Within an hour after arriving, it had started to rain...hard. While two or three of the revelers thought it would be a good time to go for a swim everyone else was packed into the cottage. Their answer to staving off boredom: alcohol and pot. The air was filled with the heady aromas of liquor and burning grass. When everyone had been outside the cottage, at least the noise and shouting got swept up into the trees and out across the expanse of the lake. Now it was all contained within the cottage and the boisterous chatter and laughter shook the walls.
Lena had holed herself up in the small den. She sat in the easy chair, a pillow wrapped behind her head over her ears as she stared with a knitted-brow at her open text-book. It made absolutely no sense to her. She couldn't think straight, the shrill shrieks of girls and the bellowing proclamations of guys piercing her pillow ear-muffs. Then someone cranked up the stereo, twisting the volume up loud enough to shake the floor and send ripples through the water in her glass on the desk.
"This is ridiculous!" she exclaimed to no one.
Just to prove that was an understatement, the door burst open, hip hop music spilling into her little sanctuary. Lena looked up surprised. A raven haired girl wearing only cut-off shorts and a bra which she barely fit into backed into the room. She led two men in with her, a stubby bald black guy and a really pale and skinny white guy suffering from a bad case of 'farmer's tan'.
"Um, occupied!" she called to them.
The half-naked woman continued to back up, her partners taking turns to kiss and handle her all over.
"People? Uh, can you maybe go somewhere else?" she asked.
They continued to back up, totally oblivious to the young woman sitting in the easy chair.
"Hello?!" she shouted. They didn't stop moving toward her.
Lena spun out of the chair just as the threesome spilled into it. The big recliner nearly rocked and fell backwards, but with a yelp and a laugh, the mass of fondling flesh balanced themselves and resumed their heated session.
Lena stood watching them for a moment at first startled and then stupefied by the mini-orgy taking place right in front of her. They were groaning and moaning and cooing as they kissed and sucked loudly. The two men massaged the woman's breasts like dough and her hands cupped each of their crotches, groping and squeezing. The unnaturally delirious looks on their faces was kind of disturbing.
She turned away, grimacing and waved her hands, washing them of the whole sordid picture. Then she strode out of the room, closing the door as she left.
Standing outside with eyes closed, she sighed deeply.
"Thanks, girlfriend!" she heard the woman shout from behind the door. With a mischievous laugh she added, "Just let me know when you'll be needing it!"
That about did it for her. Lena clutched her book and marched down the hallway. She turned the corner to the living room.
The party was full on at that point. The place was a mess with cans and food wrappings all over the floor. Several people had paired up, locked in open displays of over-heated affection. There was a scrum of guys in front of the fireplace burning God knows what and chanting as if they were at a football game. There was Kirk jumping on the coffee table, eyes wide, wild and bloodshot.
She spotted Donna and Maureen across the room with some other women dancing in a corner by the stereo and made a beeline for them.
Marko sat on a small utility cabinet looking out the window at the rain, holding his paperback book. He also found it impossible to get any reading done. People had tried to suck him into the party but he had brushed them off. He was on the verge of a headache. It had a name.
"All da ladies in da house, shout out your love for Captain Kirk!" his soused friend spat at nobody in particular.
Marko glared at him. Then he saw a pretty Korean woman, looking a bit frazzled, enter the room from the hallway. He had been wondering where Lena had gone. He almost thought that she had decided to make a break for it on her own. Judging by the look on her face she still seemed determined to do so as she marched across the floor.
Marko slid off of the cabinet, moving to intercept her. That's when Kirk decided to stage-dive into the scrum of guys. They hadn't been expecting him to do that. Marko rolled his eyes and then diverted quickly to prevent a gang beating.
"Donna, I'm really, really
sorry about this," Lena had a pleading look on her face as she begged to her friend. "I've got cramps and I also forgot some important books at home. I really, really need them." She doubled up her excuses.
"You want to go home?" Donna said looking totally disappointed, "But it'll take hours!"
"It's also raining like crazy out there," added Maureen, not helping.
Lena arched her eyebrows up and drooped her mouth. She amped up the apologetic puppy look, "I don't want to, but I have
to! I'm sorry. I need those books for an assignment on Monday! I completely forgot about them!"
"Uh..." Donna struggled with the idea. She really didn't want to go
Lena was relentless. "I'm so
She watched with relief as her friend's expression shifted. She was cracking. Donna looked frustrated but finally she said, "Okay."
As Maureen expressed her disbelief to Donna, Lena's inner fist pumped up and down, "Yes!"
Her exuberance was suddenly squelched, however, when she saw a look of surprise appear on both women. They both stared past her. Lena turned around to the front door of the cottage.
A new face had joined the party.
"Tobin," said Maureen.
"Tobin?" said Donna.
me," Lena muttered to herself.
Lena spent the next fifteen minutes standing between Donna and Tobin playing peace-maker. She shouted to be heard and her head whipped back and forth between them so much that she was getting dizzy. Now she really did have cramps. The only good think about this occurrence is that it seemed to strengthen her friend's resolve to leave the cottage.
"Twenty minutes, baby," Tobin, a stylized surfer-type fellow, begged, "Come on Donna. Twenty minutes to talk."
"Lena needs to go now," Donna mumbled, despondent. Lena could tell her friend’s defiance had worn down considerably over the last couple of minutes.
Tobin turned anxiously to her. "Lena. Please. Give us twenty minutes. We can work this out in twenty minutes then you can go. I'll drive you myself!"
Great, now the onus was on her.
Lena turned to Donna. She knew recognized that puppy-needs-a-bone look on her face.
“Donna…” she started to say then stopped. Feeling spent she sighed, “Talk to Tobin.”
She left them in the corner by themselves, but now she didn't know where to go. The party in the living room was sinking further into a carnival. She made her way to the hallway but stopped. She figured all the bedrooms, like the den, were probably 'occupied'.
"Just let me know when you'll be needing it!" was what the girl in the threesome had said to her.
Lena scanned the partiers hopelessly. She couldn't believe that these guys were seniors and grads in university.
Yeah, right. She wasn't about to hook up with anyone.
Lena shook her head. She rushed to the front door. She needed fresh air.
Besides, she hadn't seen 'him' since the afternoon.
"You're going to cool off?" Marko demanded.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm going to cool off," Kirk replied. It wasn't even seven o'clock and the guy was bleary eyed and plastered.
The two had been standing in the rain on the deck at the side of the cottage for the last ten minutes. Marko figured it was the quickest way for his friend to sober up...or maybe catch pneumonia and pass out. Either way, he'd be quiet for a second.
Marko had rescued him from being pummeled by the guys he had tackled when he jumped off the coffee table. Other than that momentary boost of adrenalin, he was exhausted. He had been working hard all week --hell, for the last month
-- from dawn to dusk building houses. He had been hoping to burn off some pent up frustrations from work this weekend. Now it was just exacerbated. Kirk was
“Alright. Let’s get you started on a coffee I.V.” he said. He patted his wasted friend on the shoulder. Kirk's word didn't mean much but it was all he had.
They rounded the corner to the front deck. Marko saw a lone figure sitting in the dark under the patio table umbrella. She was curled up on a chair, drawing her bare legs up to her chest, head on her knees.
"Hey," he said as he approached Lena.
She raised her head. Her eyes look tired and her round, small lips were pouting. She seemed to brighten up a bit when she saw him, though. "Oh, hey," she answered.
Kirk waved weakly, still grinning sheepishly, stupidly. She nodded at him.
"Okay," Marko sighed, patting Kirk on the back. He opened the door and gave him a gentle push. "Go in, sit down, shut up."
He closed the door and shoved his hands in his pockets and turned to Lena.
"You're all wet," Lena remarked softly.
"Tell me about it," he muttered.
"You want to join me under here?" she offered.
He held his breath, looking at the attractive sight beneath the umbrella. Yeah, he wanted to join her under there. "Nah," he said with a puff of air. He shook his head. "Just trying to cool off."
Lena smiled and nodded knowingly. "Babysitting?" she asked.
He chuckled and rolled his eyes. "Yeah. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that do you?"
"Tell me about it," she joked, mimicking him. She laughed. That was twice in one day.
Quietly, Lena pulled damp strands of hair around her ear. Cripes, there was something so sexy about that, Marko thought.
She looked at him thoughtfully as he stood in the rain, shifting in his feet. His curly black hair had flattened out, bangs hanging just above his thick black eyebrows. Every so often, the light from the cottage caught his olive-skinned face, wet from the rain, a nice mix of rugged and gentle features. She smiled to herself admiring him.
Marko coughed softly.
Lena rolled her eyes and slipped out of her crouch. Stretching out her long bare leg, she hooked the arm of a chair across from her with her foot and pulled it to her so that it was completely out of the rain. "Sit down already will you?" she said, "You're making me feel bad."
Marko paused then finally relented. It was probably the lure of her slender leg stretched out like that which did it for him. He sat down on the chair beside her.
For the two of them, the next twenty minutes of conversation proved to be a refreshing break from the crazy day. Mostly they discussed the headaches that come with friends. Yet the more they talked about how tired each of them supposedly were, it occurred to both of them that it actually sounded like they had too much pent up energy, enough to burst.
"I mean I spend my entire time studying these days. It sucks. It really does. I feel like a mole person," Lena grumbled, then she chuckled, "Look at these eyes. They're not tiny just because I'm Korean!"
"Ooh! That's really bad! That ain't P.C.!" he snickered with her. Then he sighed, "Yeah, same thing here. Twelve hour a day shifts. Inspectors and foremen on my back all the time. It's always the same thing. Just want to hit something sometimes, you know?"
"Mmm-hmm." She nodded. “I'd love
to hit something.”
“I'll lend you Kirk,” Marko joked. He never thought he could feel so relaxed. Lena had such a contemplative face, a certain serenity and calmness in her eyes. It settled him.
They sat quietly listening to the rain. While she stared at her feet, he regarded her.
Lena was liking this. She found that each time she looked up at him, the more appreciative she felt. He had a soft smile, nothing lurid about it. And he was listening to her, having a decent conversation with her. She really enjoyed it.
"Figured out where you'll be sleeping tonight?" he suddenly asked.
She wasn't expecting that question. She knew it was an innocent question, yet a fleeting, electrified thought flashed in her head for just a millisecond. She couldn't quite make it out but it made her unusually anxious. Quickly, she gave herself a mental shake then checked her watch. "I'm...uh, I'm actually going home," she said as she stood up, "Donna and I are headed back to the city tonight."
"Oh," he said. He looked away and shrugged, adding, "Probably for the best."
She twisted her mouth upward to the side watching him as he looked out across the lake. She said, "How about you?"
He turned to look up at her, a grin on his face. "Babysitting."
She nodded and smiled, gently pulling her hair back and around her ear again.
Lord, Marko really
liked it when she did that.
Lena mouthed a silent "bye-bye" and, with a slight wave of her hand, went into the cottage.
He raised his hand then lowered it, turning his gaze back towards the lake as the rain fell around him.
Lena negotiated her way through the scrums of people on the floor of the living room, scanning the room looking for Donna. Instead she found Maureen sitting on the floor macking on some guy by the fireplace. She walked over to her and tapped her on the shoulder.
The curly blonde woman looked up at her, grinning like a caught schoolgirl. Her partner continued to nibble on her neck eliciting cooing giggles from her.
"Maureen, sorry to interrupt but where's Donna?" Lena asked. She waved her hand around, "And where's Tobin? Where are they?"
"Um, I think in my sister's bedroom?" said Maureen. "They went there to talk."
"Uh-huh, and which is your sister's bedroom?"
Maureen waved lazily this way and that. "Hallway, second room to the right." With that, she resumed tending to her guest.
Lena walked past Kirk who was sucking on a toke on the sofa, his eyes glazed over. She was solicited no less than three times by several groups to "join in on the fun" but managed to make her way through the gauntlet to the bedroom which turned out to be the one she had changed in earlier. She knocked and said, "Donna? Everything okay? It's been over 30 minutes."
Lena's gut twisted, and though she really didn't want to, she opened the door a crack and peeked in. She stared hard and long, her small eyes widening and her mouth dropping. She wanted to shout something but instead she closed the door. As she stood outside unmoving, all colour and expression washed from her face, she felt a clammy hand slide onto her shoulder. It was hot and wet and uncomfortable on her bare skin. She turned around. Kirk's shifting, bloodshot eyes scanned her luridly from head-to-toe.
"Hey my little egg roll," he slurred, "You wanna make some chop suey?"
Lena’s hand slapped his face with a pronounced “smack”.
"Okay give them over to me," Marko said to Kirk. He should have taken the keys to the van when they arrived at the cottage.
"I'm just going to show them, man!" Kirk slurred waving to a small group of onlookers standing behind him. He went on, "We're going to check out the Starship: Love Machine!"
"Yeah and then I'm sure you're going to take it to warp speed or whatever." Marko smirked.
Kirk slumped onto him, wrapping his arm around Marko's shoulders. "Tell you what," he said with a dreamy wink, "I'll let you use it with your new friend. Your geisha, okay?"
"Give me the fucking keys. I'm through messing with you, Kirk!" Despite his best efforts, Marko was riled up, the blood boiling in his veins.
Kirk turned his face. “See this?” he asked, showing off a deep crimson patch tanned on his cheek, “She did this. She’s a real Dragon Lady. I’m looking to slay her with my spear!”
Marko's jaw clenched.
Then Kirk added, trying to whisper but speaking loud and clear, "Hey, hey. How much do you think she'd charge to love both of us 'long time'?"
There was a noticeably loud crack over the noise of the stereo and conversation in the room as Marko smashed his fist across Kirk's jaw. The smaller man didn't really feel it right now, though he probably would later, as he spun across the floor and crumpled onto the sofa, knocked out. Momentarily everybody else paused then went back to whatever it was they were doing before the man-drama.
Marko winced and fumed at himself. This wasn't good. He hated it.
He reached into Kirk's pockets and found the keys to the van. He stared at the unconscious man with some disgust but mostly disappointment and regret. This was a waste, but at least he couldn't cause any more trouble for a while.
Turning, he saw Lena drag herself slowly from the hallway, looking totally lost. He moved quickly towards her. “You okay?" he asked.
Lena nodded, her lips pursed. Her eyes were watery and she looked a bit pale.
He continued, "Aren't you supposed to be going?"
She turned her head, looking back at the bedrooms. Wearily she shook her head, "Guess not."
"Where's your friend? Is she okay?" Marko asked.
"Yeah, she's fine." She grimaced. The question put a bit of fire back into her. "Yeah, she's just fucking
It put a lot
of fire back into her.
Marko arched his eyebrows up in mild shock. He looked back at Kirk slumped like road kill on the sofa. It looked like both he and Lena failed in their babysitting assignments. The poor woman looked completely spent and he still felt like hitting everyone else in the room. This was an unhealthy atmosphere for both of them.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a key. She watched it dangle in front of her face like some brass ring.
"You want a ride?" he asked.
Within a minute they met back at the front door.
"Didn't you bring anything else with you?" Marko asked noticing she only had her books.
Her weekend bag was in the room with Donna and Tobin; however, she didn't want to go in there. "It's alright," she said shaking her head. Then she nodded towards Kirk and asked, "What about him?"
Marko felt nothing for Kirk at the moment. "He'll be fine. He won't have anything to drive anyway."
They opened the door. It had gone beyond cats and dogs; it was raining down cows and horses now. They stared at the storm for a long time before they turned and looked at one another.
Marko shrugged. "Go through or go back. Your choice."
There was a crash from behind them in the cottage, a couple of shrieks, followed by a loud cheer.
"Let's get the hell out of here," Lena said.
To be concluded...
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<a href="http://www.lushstories.com/stories/straight-sex/choice-matters-part-1-of-2.aspx">Choice Matters (Part 1 of 2)</a>