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Second Place “Seduction Stories” Competition.

Quartet

a seduction of a different kind.
Seattle, Winter ‘07

Her name was Lucy, or at least that’s the name she used, and she was a junkie. I didn’t need to see the track marks to know. In my line of work, I’d seen enough addicts to ID them quickly. She said she was 25, another lie. Closer to 20 would be my guess. That’s the thing about junkies. Lying comes naturally. It’s second nature.

“I want to get clean.”

See? Translation. I’d rather go to rehab then the slammer. Eventually, I got the truth out of her, though. Surprisingly, after coming clean about everything else, she stuck to her guns about wanting to get straight. Oh, and yeah, her name was actually Lucy. Her story? One I’d heard too many times. Dysfunctional family. Ran away at 16. Lived on the streets for a bit. Started hooking because really, what choice did she have? Her pimp got her hooked so he could control her. By the look of things, he probably got rough with her if she didn’t bring enough in. Probably why she came to me, and not one of the guys. Didn’t sound like any of the men in her life had treated her well.

With a sigh, I finished up with her, giving her a careful once over. There was a pretty girl behind those wild eyes and stringy blonde hair and too revealing clothes. She could have used a few meals, sure, but the foundation was there. I hated how her hands trembled, knowing from experience that she was about to go through hell. I’d seen enough addicts going through withdrawal symptoms. I had nothing but sympathy for her. Still, personal feelings had no place here.

“You want to get straight, it’s up to you, Lucy. I’m cutting you a break, but just this once. Next time you get picked up, it’s going to go much harder, got it?”

She simply nodded, looking miserable. Yeah, I think she got the message loud and clear.

“Good luck,” I told her, my voice softening, her gaze suddenly fixed to mine, her smile quavering as she brushed at her eyes, too proud to openly sob in front of a cop.

“Thank you,” she managed, her voice breaking just a little. “I just needed someone to give me a chance.”

oOo

I could tell that she wasn’t buying it. Didn’t matter, really. I meant it. I just wanted a chance to start over. I just needed a break. She’d given it to me by arranging for me to get into a program instead of throwing me in jail. I knew the drill too well. I’d do some time and then I’d be back on the streets using, turning tricks just so I could get another hit of sweet relief. I hated myself for not being able to stop almost as much as I hated Diego for getting me hooked. For the last month or two I kept hoping, whenever I shot up, that he’d given me a little more than I could handle and that my heart would stop. And then, god, I just would get lost in pure bliss. It wasn’t the drug that was so addicting. It was getting lost in a place where I felt no pain, no sadness, no hurt. That was what kept me coming back. I needed to feel that, even if just for a little bit. That seduction was what kept me from running away; the promise of something beautiful in my life. But it was killing me, too. Not just my body, but my heart. Giving up so much of myself just for that fix. When I wasn’t high I began to despise myself. That’s why I’d let myself get caught.

Seattle, Summer ‘09

I’d thought about her more than once. Just random thoughts like, I wonder how she’s doing. I could have checked, of course, but I think I’d rather continue with the fantasy of her kicking her habit and getting her life back together than be confronted with the truth; that she was back on the street, strung out, turning tricks for just one more hit. Or, just as likely, on a coroner’s slab in the city morgue, listed as yet another Jane Doe.

“Officer Zuniga. Remember me?”

I looked up from my desk to find a pretty young blonde regarding me, her hands clasped nervously in front of her. I must have looked perplexed. She bit her lip, looking a little disappointed before doing her best to smile.

“Lucy. You picked me up for hooking a couple of years ago, gave me a chance to get clean.”

Out of habit, my eyes flickered downwards. She was wearing a tee, and her arms were bare. No sign of track marks. Of course the smart ones started shooting up between their fingers or toes or even under their tongues. I met her gaze once more, noting how calm her baby blues were, and how she wasn’t trembling.

“I haven’t used since that day,” she said defiantly, not oblivious to what I was thinking. “I’ve wanted to, yeah, but I haven’t.”

I managed a cautious smile. “Good for you. I had my doubts-“

“I know. Me too. It was… hard.”

The haunted look in her eyes was enough of an answer. It must have been hell for her.

“You should be proud. Lucy? Why are you here?”

She looked away then, her brow furrowing, her shoulders lifting and falling in a helpless shrug.

“I just needed to say thank you is all.”

With that, she simply turned and left. I watched as she walked towards the door, feeling like I’d let her down somehow. Not quite sure what she needed or wanted, I decided to chase after her.

“Wait a minute. You hungry? I’m buying.”

She stood a little taller, or so it seemed, as she turned, her smile forming quickly, lighting up her eyes again.

“Yeah, could use a bite.”

“I know a great place. Don’t all cops?” I laughed. It might have been a cliché, but it was still true.

I grilled her over roast beef sandwiches. One thing that hadn’t changed; she was still about 15 pounds too thin. I didn’t want to embarrass her by asking when the last time she’d had a decent meal had been. Or, for that matter, if she had a place to stay. Instead, I simply let her lead the conversation, surprised when she opened up to me, holding nothing back.

Yeah, like I’d said, it was a story I’d heard so many times that I could have told it myself. Still, I sensed she needed to purge, so I let her. After all these years, I wasn’t sure if I was grateful that it still affected me, or disturbed that it still had the power. At some point I found myself resting my hand over hers in silent communion, reassuring her, my appetite gone, my half eaten sandwich set aside.

oOo

I’d been sleeping at a shelter for a while. I could have had nicer digs, but I’d have had to trade for them, and the only thing I had that was of any worth were my tits, my cunt, and my ass, and I was saving them. Yeah, this is stupid, I know. Embarrassing as shit, but Officer Zuniga? Denise? Yeah, I couldn’t help it. I’d never been in love before. Oh, I’d thought I had, but now I knew better. At first, I figured it was some stupid crush, but fuck, I couldn’t stop thinking about her all through my rehab and even after. That’s the real reason I’d finally worked up the courage to show up at the station. I figured that, if she saw me now, that she might give me a chance. Only, I didn’t know how to tell her that. If she’d been a guy, it would have been easy. I’d just tell him I was horny and I wanted to fuck. But then, she wasn’t just some trick. She’d given me my life back. So yeah, I was infatuated, crushing out, whatever, but dammit, it felt like something more when she’d put her hand over mine. I felt it rumble through my body like a slow moving train. I felt it deep down in my heart. Only, I knew she was just being nice. After all, I was nothing to her but another ex-junkie whore. At least, this was a start. And then… I don’t think she realized what she was saying, and I’m sure she regretted it, but once it was out there, she was kind of screwed.

oOo

“Where are you staying?” I asked when she paused, looking a little helpless. Sort of like a kitten sitting on the front porch and soaking wet from the rain.

“Here. There. Right now, there’s a YWCA down on East Fir-“

“Yeah, I know the place. Listen. I’ve got the weekend off. Why don’t you stay a night or two? Got a guest bed. Be a break for you, Lucy.”

That guarded look again. The one you get when someone offers you hope, but you’re waiting for them to snatch it away again just as you reach for it.

“You’re not afraid I’ll rip you off?”

I had to laugh at that. “I’m a cop. You even try, I’ll come down so hard on you, you’ll never know what hit you.”

Yeah, oh, so it was a mistake, but my gut told me that it wasn’t a stupid move and I’d always gone with my gut.

oOo

She had a nice place. Modest, I guess would be the word. Two bedrooms. One of them mine, at least for a couple of days. I wanted to cry. I’d never had a room of my own. I did my best not to let her see my tears and she did her best to pretend not to see them. Later, I explored a little. She wasn’t stupid. Despite everything, she kept an eye on me, not that I blamed her. Not too long ago I would have done anything to get myself a fix and old habits die hard sometimes. What fascinated me the most were all her awards and her pictures. Apparently she was a pretty damn good cop. Lots of photos of her in uniform. Lots of her with family, too. A pretty big one. They looked nice. Happy. I wondered what it must be like to grow up like that and then I had to stop thinking about it.

“Who’s this?” I asked, pointing to a picture of her with another woman. They looked like friends. Probably best friends. What surprised me was how my question made her blush.

“My ex-partner.”

“Oh. She doesn’t look like a cop.”

“Not that kind of partner, Lucy.”

“Oh!” I didn’t let her see my smile. She liked girls meaning I had a chance. Not much of one, but…

“You’re queer.”

“Gay. And Yes, I am. Don’t worry. I didn’t bring you home to seduce you or anything,” she said, sounding somewhat defensive.

“No, it’s cool. I mean, I get it. Men are pigs, right?”

She chuckled, shaking her head. “That’s not why. And no, they’re not all like-“

“My dad? My pimp? My johns?” I said with a snort. “I know all about what men are like. What they like to do. What they pretend when they’re with you. They’re fucking pervs.”

Once again, here, where I felt safe, I let my emotions get the better of me.

oOo

She turned, her outburst done, withdrawing, arms folded across her stomach as if she had a bellyache. I wanted to take her in my arms and hug her. I didn’t, not sure how she’d react to that, and so I simply stood and watched in silence, hoping it was more comfortable than awkward, until she relaxed. She kept her back to me, but I could tell where her eyes were drawn. Nor did she try to hide her fascination, reaching out and running a finger over the framed photographs of Kelly and me. I felt a longing, one that I hid much better than Lucy had. I think it came from the same place, however. Loneliness. It had been four years since she’d died and yet, sometimes it felt so immediate, the pain so visceral that it knocked the breath from me.

“What happened?” she asked, her voice quiet.

“Drunk driver,” I replied. What more was there to say?

“I’m sorry.”

“Thanks. You want a beer?”

“Yeah. In the worst way, but no thank you. Straight and narrow.”

“Good for you. You should be proud.”

Her face lit up as she turned, and it seemed like years dropped away with her smile. For a moment it was easy to forget that she wasn’t a normal 22 year old girl fresh out of her first year of college.

“I am. I thought I was going to die. Some days, I wished I would. It would have been easier. But I kicked it. I don’t want to be alone tonight, Denise. Please?”

I’m not sure if it was my body language, or her need for some kind of human contact, or the vulnerability of our loneliness being reflected, but it felt natural for me to open up my arms and let her step into my embrace. A simple hug, or it would have been. She, however, had other ideas, tilting her head up and parting her lips. I felt her breath quickening, her breasts pressing against me, and yes, I was sorely tempted.

“You can sleep in here with me, but that’s all that’s going to happen. Understood?” I made sure to use my cop voice. Firm and stern enough to make her pull back, her expression almost comical, like she’d been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. It was all I could do not to laugh.

oOo

It was the first time I’d ever slept with someone without having fucked them first. At first I felt pangs of hurt. She didn’t want me. Maybe I wasn’t pretty enough or good enough. After a while, though, I relaxed and closed my eyes. It had been a long day and I was tired. Besides, it felt nice just to have someone hold me. Yes, I wanted her. I wanted her to love me like I loved her, or thought I did, or wanted to. That was the problem. What did sex have to do with love? It was just need. What I was feeling was a different kind of need, something beyond the physical. It was frightening. Intoxicating, even. It felt a little like how I felt when I got high, which scared me at first, and then, made me wonder. I kissed her then, thinking that would heighten the sensation, disappointed when she pulled back, her dark eyes serious in the soft light of the bedside lamp she’d left on at my request, embarrassed at admitting that I’d never outgrown being scared of the dark.

“No, Lucy. That’s not what this is all about.”

“But I like you.”

Silence. Silence so thick you could drown in it as she regarded me, her lips pursed, not in a kiss, but in contemplation so overwhelming that I finally broke.

“I want you to like me too.”

“I do. But not like that, Lucy. I could be your friend, but that’s all. For one thing, you’re much too young-“

“I’m not a child.” I’m afraid it came out much more petulantly than I’d hoped, much to her amusement.

“No one said you were.”

“You’re thinking it.”

This time, her gaze was deadly serious. “I don’t think you ever had the chance to be a child.”

How do you answer that? With a shrug, I guess, followed by silence so deep that I couldn’t stand it after a while.

“I’ve never been with another girl,” I confessed, my cheeks burning as she regarded me, her eyes as serious as I’d ever seen them.

“Stop,” she sighed, sitting up and shaking her head, her gaze drifting toward the picture of her and Kelly, twisting so that her back was towards me. “Maybe you should go sleep in the other room.”

“I’m sorry,” was all I could think of to say as I slipped from under the covers and shuffled down the hall, a lump in the pit of my stomach.

That night, as I had pretty much every night since I could remember, I had unsettling dreams and, when I awoke, I was alone, tangled in the damp sheets and trembling, wishing I could just have one hit to take away the pain. Once an addict, always an addict. It never went away. It was seductive. You just learned how to trick yourself into getting through one more day without it, was all.

Seattle, Fall of ‘09

I’d let her stay on several conditions. One, being, that she stay clean. No drugs and no drinking. She was also to attend NA meetings as well as get herself a sponsor. Two, that she respect my boundaries. And three, that she do her share of work around the place.

“You could be my sponsor,” she pressed me one day, a cute little pout, part anger and part disappointment, when I put down my book and chuckled.

“Not on your life. Now go take care of the dishes and leave me alone. I want to finish this chapter. It’s your turn to make dinner tonight, by the way.”

“I hate you,” she told me, but there was no venom in the disappointed sigh that trailed off as she left the room. I’m not proud of it, but not for the first time, I took private delight in how her bottom filled out her jeans as she left, her hips swaying rather enjoyably. Mumbling to myself, I went back to reading, thinking, not for the first time, that, if I’d been smart, I’d have never let her stay beyond that one weekend.

oOo

I sat in front of the mirror, holding the portrait in my hands. She looked so happy. Her and her girlfriend. Kelly. It wasn’t fair. How could I compete with a ghost? God, I needed something to distract me. What I really wanted was a fix. No matter how much I ignored it, the feeling, the need, never truly went away. Background noise, in a sense. I focused on Kelly’s image, memorizing her face or, more precisely, her expression. The way she smiled, her head tilted slightly to one side, one eye slightly lidded. Then I gazed at my reflection, doing my best to imitate it. Where she managed to look fun and sexy, all I could seem to manage was vaguely stoned. Frustrated, I tossed the photo aside and stared at my image. I’d changed since meeting Denise. Put on a few pounds, but in all the right places. For the first time in my life I came to the conclusion that I was pretty. I blushed a little, but was pleased by the thought.

“Not prettier than Kelly, though. Not pretty enough. Fuck Kelly. She’s dead. I’m right here. Why won’t you love me?”

I wanted her so much. I felt, strangely, like a voyeur as I watched the girl in the reflecting glass run her hand over her flat belly, her fingertips slipping beneath her waistband, her other hand cover her breast, caressing as her nipple stiffened, her lips parting with desire, a thin string of saliva lengthening between them. Our eyes locked with a shy flash of recognition, both our cheeks turning pink at being caught out. Still, it didn’t keep my fingers coaxing my sensitive little nubbin of flesh from its hiding place. I wanted to take it slow and enjoy the experience, my thoughts drifting, eyes closed as I imagined it was Denise, not me, whose fingers were teasing my slick lips open, her finger stroking between them until I trembled with need.

“Please,” I whispered to her ghost, my voice thick with lust as I started to lose control. I’d wanted her seduction of me to be teasingly slow, or I so I’d thought. Instead, I found myself rubbing frantically, desperately, my passion overpowering as I fell back, my knees lifting until they pressed against my tits, hips rolling, giving me access to my dripping wet snatch. I began to plunge my fingers, three of them, into myself, too far gone to be embarrassed at the slurp of my wide open cunt, the rasp of my quick breath, or the rising moan that threatened to turn into the yowl of a cat in heat as I fucked myself holding onto the vision of her. Pinching and twisting my nipples until they ached, I writhed like a snake, humping my fingers as I pushed them deeper and deeper into my depths, my flesh damp with perspiration, digits dripping with cream, eyes rolling back as I reached for something beyond me, finally coming with an articulate cry that seemed to last for ages.

Eventually, I collapsed, too spent to do anything but roll over on my side, fingers stroking my pussy, murmuring her name with a shy smile until I finally closed my eyes and slipped into the a, thankfully, dreamless slumber, only waking when I heard the front door open and shut. Frantically, I pulled my clothes on in time to greet her breathlessly.

“Hey,” I murmured, biting my lip, a little ashamed as I saw recognition and knowledge blooming in her eyes.

oOo

It was easy to guess what she’d been doing. Besides the guilty look on her face she smelled like sex. I managed to keep my smile hidden. After all, what she did in private was her own business. Not like I’d never done the same. My thought turned sour. Pretty much the only sex I’d been getting, or desired, in the last couple of years. I couldn’t help comparing my partners with Kelly and most of my one night stands eventually left me depressed and feeling empty. I had a sudden need to be alone.

“Lucy. I… would you mind going out the movies or something? I need a little ‘me time’.”

She looked hurt, but did her best to hide it. Once I heard my car start up, I locked the door behind her and retired to my bedroom, my fantasies not of nameless hot girls but of one particular hot girl; Kelly.

I recalled the first time, an event we’d laughingly argued about for years. Who’d seduced who? We’d been dating casually for about five months before we’d done the deed. I’d gone over to her house, fully intending to get naked with her, pretty sure she’d been having the same feelings. She’d made tamales, hoping to impress me. I’d worn something red and tight and brought a bottle of wine hoping to do the same.

We’d finished it in the living room before deciding to move the party to the bedroom. We never made it, at least not the first time. Halfway down the hall she had her hands all over me, her mouth melding with mine, our kisses fueled by the wine and about three months of me being able to think of nothing else than making love to this amazing woman…

The curtains closed tight, the lights out, the room bathed in semi-darkness, I rolled over on my side, my hand inside the waistband of my panties, stroking myself, imagining it was her hand, her fingers that slipped between my sensitive, moist lips. I felt myself trembling with lust, my breath, my heartbeat, my desire all quickening as I began to slowly fuck myself with a pair of fingers, pausing to spread my juices over my swollen pleasure nub with a wanton moan that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

“Kelly,” I whispered, as I rolled over on my back and frantically pushed my underwear down my thighs and past my ankles, spreading my legs and pulling my knees to my chest so I could go deeper, panting as I drove my fingers into my dripping cunt, just like she’d done that night… and not just her fingers, but her delightful tongue, teaching me just what that particular muscle was capable of. She’d devoured me from within as I held on for dear life. And after, I’d taken the lead, doing the same.

“Oh, god, I miss you so much, baby,” I moaned, curling my fingers like a hook, my thumb rubbing against my clit clockwise, and then counter as my need began to take over, all control lost.

“Yes, yes, yes, yes.” I heard myself crying out as impassioned heat infused my flesh. A flash of empathy needled its way into my thoughts as I recalled Lucy’s erotic scent. I knew that I’d probably been the focus of her thoughts, just as Kelly was mine. I longed for a ghost. I would always long for her. . I pushed the thought away as too depressing and kept at it, rocking my hips, pushing my fingers deeper and deeper until hot orgasmic bliss stole all thought from me, leaving only the physical ecstasy that I so longed for…

Seattle, Spring of ‘10

Those stolen moments in front of the mirror had become my only outlet. It would have been so easy to find someone to make me feel good. A one night stand in a stranger’s room or his car or even up against the wall in an alleyway. Don’t think I wasn’t tempted. But I resisted. Not because I wanted to, but because I knew that Denise would be disappointed in me if I succumbed to whoring myself out again, even if it was for my own satisfaction rather than money.

At first, it was enough. I knew it wouldn’t last, though. I couldn’t help but think, as good as it felt to cum, it wasn’t quite the euphoria I’d felt when shooting horse into my veins. Even now, it seemed like everything paled compared to that feeling, of that instant ecstasy that washed through me, erasing all the pain, all the fear, all the hurt. I wondered if it would be different being with Denise. Being loved. I wanted to cry at the thought. How would I know, never having felt that before? Not from any of my lovers. Certainly not from the johns or my pimp. Not even from my mom or dad.

What was wrong with me? What was it that she saw in me, that flaw that kept her from wanting me? Suddenly angry, I struck out, my fist smacking the mirror squarely, creating a spider’s web of cracks where my face had been. The pain felt strangely invigorating, shooting through my knuckles and past my wrist.

oOo

“You’re bleeding. What happened, Lucy?” I slurred, concerned as she replied with a shrug, raising her hand as if noticing, for the first time, that her knuckles were caked with dried blood.

“Cut myself, I guess.”

I did my best to lean against the doorframe casually, hoping she didn’t notice the smell of booze and frustration and loneliness that clung to me. I was drunk. Not puking up drunk, but drunk enough to lose my moral compass. It had been too long since I’d had sex and Lucy? I knew how she felt, and I should have just gone into my room and shut the door and passed out. But god, she was beautiful in a kind of fucked up way, and I was pretty fucked up myself and goddammit, right then, right there, I wanted her. Ironically, after all this time, it was me who made the first move. Me, who’d been telling her no for all this time who grabbed her shoulders and kissed her. Not a soft kiss, either, but a hard kiss. One full of want and need and lust. It was a full bodied kiss, my tongue forcing her lips open, her moan music to my ears.

We didn’t make love. It was desperate longing that pushed us together. I pinned her roughly against the wall, trapping her with my body. Had she resisted, I could have overpowered her, but she didn’t. This was as much about what she wanted as it was about me.

“You dirty little whore,” I growled, as I pulled her top off over her head, freeing her tits, ignoring her wince, not at what I’d done, but what I’d said. I instantly regretted it.

“I’m sorry, Luc-“

She silenced me with a hard kiss, her tongue pushing past my lips her hands pressing against my hips as she fumbled at her zipper, yanking it down and then shoving her jeans past her hips as I fell to my knees to finish the job.

“Fuck me, please?” she whimpered, sounding a little lost, her voice ragged with emotion.

Grabbing onto her ass, I shoved my tongue into her moistening cunt. How many cocks had she had shoved up there, I wondered briefly. It didn’t matter. None of them could compare with what I could do to her with my tongue. I felt her hands on my head, her fingers burrowing into my hair as my tongue penetrated her messy pussy. There was no finesse involved. It was simple animal passion overcoming both of us. I lapped at her clit, her cunt, even the tight little pucker of her ass until she couldn’t take it, squealing out my name as she turned my face into a hot mess, her cum almost exploding against my cheeks.

“My turn,” I growled, pulling her to the floor, pinning her once more, her arms trapped under my calves, her head cupped in my hands as I ground my pussy against her face, her extended tongue parting my swollen lips until, finally, I felt the rumble of fireworks inside me.

“Kelly,” I moaned, fingers tightening in her hair until she cried out in pain.

Together, when we’d both recovered, we helped each other to the bed. The second time was gentle and soft. We both took our time, our need satisfied for the moment. Mutual seduction, perhaps, hands roaming as we explored each other’s body. Our kisses were tentative, at first. Eventually, though, we grew comfortable. It was sweet in a way. She wasn’t Kelly, but god, it felt so good to have someone kiss me with their whole being, focusing all their desire into pleasuring me. We spent the rest of the night like that, entwined in each other’s arms, drifting off, waking again, and each time she came for me, or I for her, I felt myself letting go of Kelly’s ghost a little bit more. I felt myself starting to fall in love again for the first time since she’d died. I let my guard down, pushed past my cynicism, and started to dream, just a little. I should have known better.

Afterwards, things were good, at least for a while. Not just good. Amazing. I let myself fall in love. She had, in a way, seduced me, though it had taken, in her words, a motherfucking long ass time.

It wasn’t exactly domestic bliss. She still had a lot of issues to work out. So did I. I wasn’t ready to let my past go yet and honestly, our occasional fights were always centered around the past, either hers or mine. We both had our weaknesses. She would always be jealous of Kelly and with good reason. As for Lucy? Once a junkie, always a junkie. Just as the ghost of my ex-partner would always haunt me, so would her addiction and I’d seen it enough, working the beat, to know how seductive it could be.

Seattle, Fall of ‘10

I came home to find her sprawled on the couch, a needle still in her arm, brightly colored shoe lace tied tight around her bicep, her eyes staring off into nothingness. Anger filled me. Worse, as I surveyed the room, I saw that she’d taken all, or at least most, of the photos with Kelly in them out of the frames and torn them in two. Anger turned to fury. How dare she? There was no way I could forgive her for what I saw as a betrayal.

oOo

“Get out.”

In my drugged out haze, I did my best to focus on her mouth as she shaped her lips into words, that feeling of euphoria still coursing through my veins, making it hard to think of anything but what it would be like to feel her body against mine, her flesh against my flesh, her lips on my nipples, warm, wet, slippery as they slid down my tummy, her hot kisses on my pussy, sucking on my throbbing clit until I was overcome with ecstasy…

Pain flared in my cheek. Blinking back tears, eyes wide, I stared at her with shock, watching her hand as it drifted again in slow motion, connecting with my cheek with a second slap. And then a third, her own eyes filled with tears.

“I’m sorry, Lucy, but you’re not welcome here anymore. I’m going to pack up your things and, as soon as you come down, I’m driving you down to the Y. You’re no longer welcome here.”

I did my best to tell her that I’d done it for her. She was better off without us. Both of us. A junkie and a ghost. It was like that old saying. If you love someone, set them free. I tried, but I was too far gone to form the words. I couldn’t even manage to tell her how sorry I was or how much I loved her. In the end, I left. She let me stay long enough to come down, using the time to pack my bags with broken dreams and put them by the door.

Neither of us said a word as the door closed behind me. Neither of us could find the words to voice the disappointment and hurt we felt.

Seattle, Summer of ‘11

“Can I come in?”

“I’m not sure. Let me see your arm, Lucy.”

With a shrug, I pulled up the sleeve of my sweater, avoiding her eyes as I glanced down at my forearm, suddenly seeing myself through her eyes, the needle marks, some fresh, making it obvious what I was. A junkie. Embarrassed, I started to turn, suddenly realizing that I wouldn’t be welcome, surprised when I felt her fingers gripping my wrist with unbelievable strength.

“Why?” she asked, her voice gentle. It wasn’t rhetorical and I sensed that my answer was important. So, instead of the flippant words that were on my tongue, I took a deep breath, turned, and met her gaze.

“It’s the only thing that makes me feel better. When I shoot up, it’s the only time in my life I don’t hurt.”

I felt her grip loosen, but not release. Instead, she surprised me.

“Come in. Let’s get you cleaned up.”

She fussed over me. It felt nice. Something my mom would have done had she not been so busy getting high. Like mother like daughter, right? She undressed me, her lips tight, her eyes tighter, as I shed my clothes until I was naked, shivering, not with chill, but with fear and humiliation as she appraised me. I could almost read her mind. Too thin. Track marks. Dark circles. Bruises. And then, those damning words. Junkie.

“I’m sorry, Denise. I tried. I did,” I suddenly sobbed, wishing I’d never showed up at her doorstep.

oOo

I surprised her. Hell, I surprised myself by taking her into my arms, pulling her close, my hand on the back of her head as her tears soaked the shoulder of my shirt.

“It’s okay, Luce. It’s going to be okay. You did it once. You can do it again. You can beat this.”

“I can’t,” she said, sounding lost. It broke my heart.

“I’ll help you this time. Team work, okay?”

“Why?”

Her question gave me pause. I know what she wanted from me. What she needed. The thing is, I wasn’t ready for that. Not now, not yet. Maybe never. Kelly still owned a piece of my heart. She always would. Maybe there just wasn’t enough room for Lucy next to her ghost. I pushed her gently away, clasping her forearms, looking deep into her watery blue eyes, searching for something. I wasn’t sure what.

“Because I think you’re worth saving.”

Seattle, Spring of ‘12

I awoke to the sound of pans rattling in the kitchen. With a groan, I rolled over, the smell of bacon seductive enough to pull me from underneath the covers and reach for a robe. Padding down the hallway bare foot, I smiled as I heard her curse. While her heart was in the right place, her cooking skills had always left something to be desired.

“Good morning, honey,” I murmured, slipping my arms around her waist from behind, my chin resting on her slim shoulder. “Need a hand?”

“I suck at this,” she complained, doing her best to turn an egg over in the frying pan. To her credit, very little of it ended up on the stove top.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

“I tried to make pancakes. Cajun style,” she quipped, her head turning towards the sink, under which resided the garbage can.

No, she wasn’t Kelly. Kelly could cook, for one thing. Kelly could do so many things that Lucy couldn’t. I would never stop loving her and both of us had come to accept that. Still, I’d found there was room in my heart for Lucy as well. With a smile, I took the spatula from her hand.

“You’re in charge of setting the table and orange juice. I’ll finish up the ‘hard stuff’.”

“Next time you get cereal.”

“As long as it’s being served by a blonde girl with a nice ass, I don’t mind.”

She turned to face me, her eyes lighting up as he gave me a quick kiss, her smile widening as she started to untie my robe.

“Hey!” Laughing, I shook the spatula at her. “That was an order. I’m starving.”

“I love you,” she pouted, lips pressed together to suppress a shy smile.

“I know. Juice.”

Kissing her on the nose, I pushed her away and did my best to salvage the bacon, smiling to myself as she gave my bottom a squeeze before pulling a pair of glasses from the cupboard.

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