Disclaimers: The excepts before each chapters are from the song All My Life, copyrights of KCi and Jojo, MCA record company. No infringement intended.
Author's Note: This story is a sequel to the story The Search. It would be advisable to read them before continuing with this.
This story occurs directly after The Search.
"You are the only one, my everything"
I looked down at the sleeping woman in my arms, her face free of worries as she slumbered on. I couldn't even begin to imagine the amount of pain I had caused her the past few weeks. The sun had risen a short while before and painted the room in the beach house a golden hue but my precious burden was still sound asleep.
I suspected that this was the first good night's sleep she had had in a very long time. I had to admit that it was the same for me too. It was such a relief when I heard her tell me that she did still love me. I didn't know what I would have done if her answer had been otherwise.
Slowly, I lifted a finger up to smooth her dark hair from her face and everything that had happened up till this moment came tumbling back to me. It had all but killed me when I found Taylor missing the day I had met up with my partner to go through the evidence that we had gathered against Jonathon, my brother. I had gone frantic with worry when I couldn't get her on her cell phone and then heartbroken when I realised that she had deliberately wanted to avoid me when I found my things back in my apartment together with my keys. I didn't know what I did or what she was running away from. I had thought that she wanted the relationship to come to an end just like her relationship with Julia's did. But nothing had prepared me for her frosty look the day I barged into her office and realised that she had found out about my true identity. At that moment, I realised that the amount of hurt that I had felt was minute compared to hers.
After Jonathon was put behind bars, I had gone to her office every single day, hoping that I could explain things to her but she wasn't there. God, the emptiness I had felt when I thought I had lost her was something I never wanted to go through again. I would have done anything and everything to have her back in my life. She was all I ever wanted and needed. She was, my all.
I could hear her breathing changing, indicating that she was going to get up anytime soon. Smiling tenderly, I gave her forehead a kiss and tightened my hold around her. If I had a wish, I'd wish for eternity with this woman. If I had a wish, I'd wish for her to love me forever, for heaven knows that I do not have to wish for myself to reciprocate her feelings. I already know that it would take longer than eternity for my love to end.
"Hey." a brown eye cracked open and my heart rate picked up.
"Morning." I whispered with a smile.
"God, it feels good to see you here with me." a crooked grin transformed her sleepy features and she turned in my embrace to nuzzle my neck.
"Taylor?" It was silly, I know, but I had to let her know right then that I loved her.
"I love you, Kiara." she whispered in the crook of my neck, saying those words first. Not that I minded, hell I didn't.
"I love you too, love."
She braced herself up on her elbows and leaned in to touch her forehead to mine. "Shall we... um, go for a holiday or something? I mean, I know that it's like, all of a sudden and you might have to wait a while for your leave to be processed..." she was so adorable when she was flustered.
"Sure. I'd love to." I interrupted her rambling.
"... And you might have to finish up your paperwork though it has been quite some time since the arrest.... What?" It took her some time to catch up with my answer.
I snickered lightly, nipping her lips. "I said I'd love to, silly." The grin that lighted up her face made me make myself a promise to only bring joy and laughter to this woman, no more pain and betrayal.
"Yeah? Great. Um, where do you wanna go? When do you wanna leave? Um, how long can you take the time off? Wanna go get some new clothes or something?"
She was so cute. "Taylor, Taylor... love..." I tried to calm her down, smirking at her enthusiasm that mirrored mine. I caught her lips in mine, effectively silencing her and directing her enthusiasm to something else. "It doesn't matter where we go..." I breathed raggardly when we pulled apart. "I just wanna be with you."
The shopping mall was rather crowded. Everywhere saw shoppers pushing their trolleys along with their loved ones and little children shrieking and laughing. It hit me that even mundane things like walking down the shopping aisle was special when I was doing it with Taylor. She seemed to know that I was thinking of her as she chose this exact moment to turn and capture me with a dazzling smile and a light squeeze in my waist. There was so much I had here with me, so much I had to lose.
"Hey. This dress would look fantabulous on you, love." I looked up to where she was pointing. It was a green, two toned, spaghetti strapped knee length dress that was draped on a shapely manniquin. Hm. Not bad, I had to admit.
"Wanna try it on?" Nodding, we entered the store, hands around each other's waists. The saleslady came up to us with a weird look when she saw our display of affections. I wondered if that was really the case or if Taylor's race had something to do with it too. Taylor must have saw the look too, for she immediately stiffened up and I saw that she had her 'I mean business' look on her.
"Can I help you?" the mousey haired saleslady asked in a high pitched voice. She didn't even spare Taylor a glance! Utterly infuriating.
"Wha-" I wanted to give her a good talking to when Taylor stopped me with a gentle squeeze. I gave her a glance.
'It's okay.' her eyes seemed to tell me. "Yeah. I'd like to take a look at the dress you have on display?" the woman nodded and went to the rack.
"She was so rude, Taylor! Shall we just go?" I hissed in a low tone.
"It's okay. The dress really looks good. Don't bother about her." she said with a wry smile. "Besides," she added, "she must be fuming mad that I got a terrific looking blonde wrapped around me when all she's got is that ugly pink things they call a jacket." I giggled as the woman came towards us, seemingly oblivious to our conversation. The jacket did look ghastly.
"Here, ma'am. I'm sure this is your size." Giving me a wink, Taylor motioned for me to try on the dress. I gave the woman a look and took the dress grudgingly.
Hmm... Not too bad. Not bad at all. My reflection looked back at me with those misty green eyes. I raked a hand through my strawberry blonde locks and wondered if I should get them cropped. Then I focused on the dress that stopped just above my knees. The color shifted under different lightings and it had a shiny look. There was a slit along the side of the dress and it enhanced my legs. All in all, it was... pretty neat. Taking a deep breath, I opened the door of the fitting room and saw the look of appreciation on my lover's face.
"Oh, that looks absolutely fantastic on you, ma'am!" the saleswoman drooled before Taylor could say anything. Had I not been so irritated with her myself, I would have giggled at the look of annoyance on Taylor's face. "Do you want me to wrap it up for you?"
I ignored her completely and walked over to where Taylor was standing. "How do you like it, love?" I asked, making sure that silly woman heard me loud and clear.
"Gorgeous, like always." she replied simply, making me forget that the woman was there at all. She let her finger trace the strap down to my chest and trailed down the curve of my body, making my breath catch with her innocent touch.
"Ma'am, it looks really good!" the saleslady interrupted the moment and I decided that I have had enough.
"Hey look here, lady. Whether it looks or not to you, it doesn't matter a bit! I'm only concerned about what my friend here thinks so I'd appreciate it if you could keep your racist trap shut, okay?"
Stunned by my outburst, the saleslady stiffened up considerably and stalked off to aid other customers who were either staring or giggling at her.
"Wow." was all Taylor said. Suddenly embarrassed about my loss of control, I averted my gaze.
"Hey..." Taylor's finger stroke my cheek softly and I looked up into those brown eyes that I would never tire of. "Thank you, my hero, for coming to my rescue." she grinned as I blushed slightly. "Now, let's get you out of the dress so that the racist little swine can put it into a bag and then we can get outta here, okay?"
She still wants to give the idiot business? "But-"
"Uh uh... You look great in it, love. That's all that matters, right?" her eyes twinkled as I acquiesced. It was, after all, a nice dress.
The saleslady had managed to keep her gaze away from me when Taylor paid the bill. Her eyes rounded when she saw the name on Taylor's credit card. Hmph. Bitch. She only made the connection now, huh?
"Have a nice day, Ms. Taylor." she gushed when she handed the package to us. "I'm sorry about earlier on, there must have been some misunderstanding about the way I behaved." Taylor gave her a disgusted look.
"The only misunderstanding here is you thinking that I even bother about you kissing my ass, alright?" she answered in a condescending, cool tone that made the saleslady's spine stiffen up more than it already was. Her lips twitched a little as she started to say something. "Look. In case you don't understand my language, read this." Taylor lifted her third finger coolly and propelled me out of the shop. It was all I could do not to have burst out laughing right there and then.
"Oh God, Taylor! I don't believe you actually did that!" Taylor gave me a sheepish look.
"She was getting on my nerves." was all she mumbled.
"You're my own personal hero, love." I whispered as she gave me an awkward look. I burst out giggling again. "You are sooo... cute." her brow raised fluidly.
"Now now. On't go spreading that kinda news around, hon. Silly salesladies in pink trash would never be afraid of me if they heard that." Wrapping my arm around her silk clad waist, we turned to the grocery section to finish our shopping with me still giggling.
"You're all that I ever know
When you smile my face glows"
The kitchen was rather bare and I wondered how she had survived without food for this long before I remembered that she had been staying at her office. I stocked up the shelves with all the tidbits and dried food that we had gotten from the mall and proceeded to do the same for the refrigerator with ice cream, milk, fruits and vegetables. I was just finishing the last bit when I felt two strong arms snake around my waist and a warm breath on my neck. I leaned back into the touch and was embraced fully by Taylor.
"Mm.." she hummed into my ear. "Wanna join me for a movie?" she asked, her low, husky tone making it difficult to concentrate on her words.
"Y-yeah, sure." I managed out.
"Good." she said and reached into the fridge, bringing out a tub of Hagen Daaz ice cream that we had just purchased. It was her favourite flavour - cookies and cream. She pulled me out into the living room and plopped down onto the couch. Boxer and Tavin, the two dogs, were lying on the carpetted floor in front of the couch, and Velvet, Taylor's black cat was lounging on the arm rest of the couch. Taylor stretched out lazily and reached out her arms, beckoning for me to join her. I settled down in her warm embrace and sighed in contentment. The safest place on earth was in these arms that surrounded me, giving me all the love, warmth, security and support that I needed. The show that was playing on the video recorder was "Dying young".
Scooping the ice cream, I fed it to Taylor behind me as she in turn purred in satisfaction. Then I felt something cold on my ear and I almost squealed before I realised that it was Taylor's lips teasing my earlobe.
"Ohhh.." was all I could mutter. She took the ice cream from me and made me turn slightly so that I was lying on my back and facing her as she rested on her right side on the inside of the couch. Using her fingers, she dipped into the ice cream and smeared some on my neck, making me shiver a little due to the cold and then to the sensations that were coursing through me as she sucked on my pulse.
"Hm. Cookies and cream comes in a very distant second after the new Kiara paterson flavour." She announced in a slightly husky voice, her brown eyes shining in passion and desire, making me melt even before her lips descended on me to continue her journey. I never did find out if Scott Campbell died in the show.
"Yeah?" Taylor gave the receiver a puzzled look before hanging up.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"Nothing. Been receiving a lot of prank calls recently." she said with a frown.
"So, what're we doing today?" I walked over to where Taylor was lying on her stomach on the floor, reading. Wrapping my arms around her shoulders, my head rested on hers as I tried to read what she was reading.
"Ummm... wanna go out to sea? Or go for a drive to nowhere? Maybe we can ride the water scooter... Sailing? Barberque maybe... Or we could just go out and have an old fashion date?"
I grinned. "Such a good programmer you are. Looks like I'll never get bored with you around."
Slightly inquisitive brown eyes looked up from her book. "Would you ever get bored around me?" she asked.
Now where did that come from? "No... What makes you ask that?" she gave me a sheepish smile.
"I dunno. I just... well I never depended on someone so much as I have you and... I never wanna lose you again." she confessed.
I could feel a weird wenching feeling in my chest when she said that. "I never wanna lose you again either, Taylor... And I'll never, ever get bored with you okay? You'll have to throw me down the cliff to get rid of me." Her eyes lighted up with laughter.
"Good. Cos' that's my sentiments exactly. I'm glad we got that straightened out." I pulled her up to a sitting position.
"So? What do you wanna do, my lady?" she asked in a light tone. Before I could say anything, the phone rang again.
"Yeah?" she answered in her usual flippant manner as she wrapped her arms around me. "Um, hang on." she said before whispering to me, "It's your sis." Taylor passed the receiver to me .
"Hello? Yeah! Um, yeah we're free..." Taylor's fingers were distracting me, drawing lazy circles on my midsection. "Hang on." I said to Maria.
"Taylor, wanna go Maria's place tomorrow? They're having some family gathering." Maria had always loved gatherings. Gives her something to organise, she says. That's why we have one almost every month.
"Uuhhh.... Sure." rumbled the voice from behind.
"Okay then, Maria." I said into the receiver. "I'll see you at six." turning around to face Taylor, I tweaked her nose.
"Thank you, I know how you hate my family."
A brow rose in protest. "No I don't hate them. Anyone who loves you and cares about you are my favourite people in the whole wide world. Never mind if they... Talk too much sometimes... I get training from the best." she snickered as I poked her side.
"What do you mean, you get training from the best, huh? Trying to say that I talk too much? Huh?" I demanded playfully.
"Hehe... Okay okay. Stop it... Kiara.." A warning growl came as I started tickling the warm body below mine.
"That'll teach you to tease me, Ms. Taylor." I continued my assault.
"You don't wanna... Hehhe... do this." Taylor managed out through her laughter and turned on me. We ended up wrestling each other, wrestling the clothes off each other and finished off lying totally satiated and contented in each others arms on the carpetted floor.
"What's that?" Taylor was reading something with a frown on her face.
"Huh? Uum, I dunno. It's... aA letter that was slipped under the door. Found it this morning. " she passed the white piece of paper and envelope to me.
"Thou shalt not steal."
"That's one of the ten commandments, right?" Taylor nodded. "Why is it sent to you?"
"And why this particular commandment?"
"Been shoplifting huh?" I teased her. Each letter on the letter was cut out from magazines. The person who did it took a lot of time and energy to conceal his or her identity.
"Maybe it's just a prank?"
A thoughtful look.
She got up from her seat. "C'mon. Let's get going. Maria'll have my ass whipped if we are late."
Surrendering the piece of paper to her, I snickered. "Yeah right. She'll have to get through me first. That's my ass to whip."
A sultry look from Taylor answered that statement and I felt a flush go through me. "Into kinky stuff now, huh? Hm, maybe we could arrange for it..." The blush deepened when she said that and she laughed, hugging me to her, nipping my neck. "Let's go." we were out of the house when the phone rang.
Maria was so glad to see Taylor and I back together again. It had been a hellish few weeks for me and she knew it. I didn't really talk about it but I knew that my big sister wasn't oblivious about my pain when I thought that I had lost Taylor. She was dressed in a bright colored sundress as usual and was talking to a few of my cousins when we arrived.
"Kiara!" she had ran up to us with a big sunny smile. "Taylor. Good to see you." she beamed as she began chattering away. I almost laughed at my lover's agonised expression and awkward smile as Maria called her "sweetie" and "honeybumpkin".
"Lots of food there, you two. We called in the mexican buffet that mother loves so much. She's upstairs, playing bridge with Aunt May, Aunt Lily and a few others. Go say hi after you have some food alright? I'm going to have to go back to Linda. We were talking about the new store in town. Good bargains they have! maybe one day we'll go shopping together, Kiara. Hmph, not that you have time now that you and Taylor here are back together." she waggled her brows suggestively and left abruptly, leaving us choking in the dust of her whirlwind monologue.
"Um..." Taylor mumbled as we took one look at each other and started laughing.
"... my point is that Kiara's taste has improved. Maybe the next time I'll be seeing a man in your place."
I approached Taylor and one of my cousins, Janet, whom I knew was totally against my sexual preference and was always bitchy about it. I could see that Taylor's eyes were slit and was about to intercept in what may have been something very ugly when I heard what my lover said in a cool and slightly amused voice.
"Yeah, and maybe next time my luck would improve, and I'll see a snake in your place."
I almost choked on my laughter when I heard that. Now would be a good time to get Taylor away from the silly woman. I never knew why Maria bothered about inviting her anyway.
"Hello, love." I walked up to Taylor and planted a kiss on her lips, grinning at her look of surprise. "I see that you have made the acquaintance of my cousin, Janet. C'mon now, let's move on from the oldmaid section shall we? I'll introduce you to my other, married cousins."
Taylor's eyes widened a little and a smirk played around her lips as Janet rose in fury. "You pervertic homosexual!" the fortyish woman exclaimed in anger. Everyone stopped their conversations and looked at Janet.
Taylor rose to meet her eyes with a frozen glare. "Don't you dare shout at her, you understand? You may be her cousin, but you're nothing to me and I could get you off the surface of the earth with Just. One. Call."
That was an obvious threat but no one said anything. Everyone knew what a pain Janet could be and since someone was paying her back, no one wanted to interrupt. Janet was shaking visibly now. She backed off from Taylor's stare. "Are you all going to let this pervert insult and threaten me?" she looked around at her family.
Maria came up to her. "Who are you calling pervert? You're the only pervert here, if I could see one. That's my sister and sister-in-law you're talking about."
Her eyes flashing with fury, Janet stomped off. "Fine!" she shouted from a distance. "See if I care about any more stupid gatherings in the future!" the slamming of a car door could be heard and everyone heaved a sigh of relief as the car pulled out of the driveway.
"Alright now. Anyone else have anything to say? No? Let's get back to partying then. Good riddance." Maria called out cheerily, replacing the tense atmosphere with her chirpy voice. The talking continued and I rested my hand on Taylor's arm.
"Hey. Cool down, baby. She's gone." relaxing a little, Taylor gave me a small smile.
"No one insults you and gets away with it." she stated simply.
"I know. Thank you."
Maria came over with a plate of nachos. "Here, girls. Eat up! There's plenty more where that came from."
Taylor gave her a bemused look. "Sister-in-law, huh?"
Maria flashed her a big smile. "I like to be... specific." she winked.
"You turn my life around
You picked me up when I was down"
Fluffing up the pillows on the bed, I looked up when Taylor gave a loud whoop.
"Coming through!" she shouted before taking a short run and landing on the bed right smack in the middle of the pillows, her long dark hair fanned out on the sheets.
"You're like a kid sometimes, you know that?" I mumbled good naturedly. "Wish everyone can see you like I do."
A brow raised. "And have all of them falling head over heels with me? Nah, I'll just stick to you, thank you." Taylor replied cheekily.
"Ms. Ego speaking here!" I announced to the air above me, pretending to roll my eyes. "What did Janet say to you exactly?" I was curious. Taylor stopped chuckling and held her hands out to me. I snuggled in her arms comfortably and sighed.
"Some silly stuff."
I gave her a look. "Duh, I know that. But what? tell me." Taylor played around with my hair.
"Okay. Lemme think. Um, she came over and said 'Oh, so you're Carmen Taylor huh?' " I turned on my stomach to face Taylor as she related the event.
" "So, you're... Carmen Taylor." I looked up to the person addressing me.
"Yes. And you are?" a slightly stiff looking woman in her forties had sidled up in the chair beside mine.
"I'm Kiara's cousin. You can call me Janet."
"Pleasure." I replied, not meaning the word at all.
"What's a big figure like you doing here?"
I gave her the most polite look I could muster at that moment. "I'm here because Kiara wants me to be and I'm not a big figure. The last time I checked, I was size 6." momentarily startled by that deliberate jibe, she took a while to compose herself.
"Oh. So I see you have a sense of humour. Kiara's tastes have most certainly changed. The other woman she was... Seeing was a total flop in that area. Of course, she wasn't as rich as you are." I was mentally counting, starting from a hundred and backwards.
"And your point would be?" I didn't care what her friggin' point was. The plain disinterest was clearly shown in my face and tone.
"My point is that Kiara's taste has improved. Maybe the next time I'll be seeing a man in your place." that's it. My jaw clenched as I struggled to lash out at the woman before me. Calm down. It's her cousin.
"Yeah, and maybe next time my luck would improve, and I'll see a snake in your place." I commented coolly, the direct opposite of how I was really feeling. "
"That's about it. Then you came." Taylor said flippantly, tracing my eyebrow lightly with her index finger. "My god. She actually said all that?" I started laughing. "Damn! I wish I was there when you told her that you were size 6!"
Taylor gave me a bemused look.
"Gosh, I don't think anyone has made her look so silly as you have before!" I leaned down to give Taylor a kiss on her cheek. "You are wonderful. I love you so much."
Taylor grinned. "Just because I told your cousin off?"
I snuggled in her arms again. "No, just because you are you." I stroked her arm softly as we lie there in silence, enjoying each other's presence.
"Who's that woman?" Taylor asked suddenly.
"Huh? what woman?" slightly confused, I looked up at her.
"Um, it's okay if you don't wanna tell me, but I was just wondering about the woman that your cousin was talking about?"
Oh. That woman. I stiffened a little and Taylor gave me a worried glance.
"You okay? Hey. You don't have to tell me if you don't want to okay? Sorry for asking."
I shook my head. "No, I wanna tell you. I'm just, well, it's kinda like a bad memory."
Taking a deep breath, I looked into the eyes I loved so well and drew strength from there. I could see that Taylor was letting me take my time, her eyes never left mine and her fingers were stroking my cheek gently and encouragingly.
"Well, it's nothing much actually. I met Rebecca when I just came out to work. I wasn't in the force then. Anyway, we met at this pub and she came to talk to me. I was kinda new to everything and she just seemed pretty... confident? now I know that she was plain cocky. you are confident."
That earned me an incredulous look from Taylor and I smirked a little. "She was pretty sweet in the beginning, always sending me things and all... you know, until now I still don't know if I was just wanting the attention or if I really liked her."
I gave Taylor a silent snort and sheepish grin. "So anyway, it was into the second month of the relationship when she started pressurizing me to move in with her. It made me... uncomfortable. I felt... suffocated, the way she wanted to see me and be with me all the time you know?"
Taylor nodded, her hands wrapped around my back in a loose lock. "I kept putting it off, telling her that my mom wouldn't allow me and all but she just kept coming at me, again and again... and I got so sick and tired of it, I told her that I think we needed to separate for a while."
S got a little carried away in the memory and I could feel my tears gathering in my eyes. Taylor must have sensed it too for her hold around me tightened.
"S-she hit me. Wouldn't let me leave her. Said she'd kill anyone I see after that. Said that no one would have me if she didn't." I squeezed my eyes shut in the memory and shuddered a little. Rebecca was out of her mind.
"What? she hit you?" Taylor was livid. "If I ever see her, I'd plummet her and mince her up before scattering her all over the streets. They'll have to use a microscope to find her remains!"
I chuckled slightly at that remark and my mood lightened. I was here, with Taylor, not with that crazy woman. I took a deep breath and continued my story. "After she hit me, she started crying and she held me and told me that she was sorry, that she didn't mean it, that she really loved me and couldn't lose me... by then I was totally freaked out. I started avoiding her like a plague. She became really scary. She'd call me all day long, leaving messages, sometimes shouting into the machine. Other times, she'd tell me how she missed me and everything, how she had to see me... then I started feeling that someone was watching me. Everywhere I went, every step I took, I felt that there was someone there, back in the shadows. It drove me nuts! even when I started dating again, it didn't help. The person that I was seeing would either get freaked by the shadow or something would happen to her and she would back off. There wasn't anyone special, though." I concluded my story.
Taylor reached up to brush away my tear and then placed a soft kiss on my brow. "It'll never happen again, my love. I would never let her do that to you again. And I promise you, I'll never back off from you, not even if I had death looking at me in my face. I love you." she proclaimed.
My tears were flowing freely by now and Taylor pulled me towards her. "Hey..." she whispered. "Don't cry." I sniffled and buried my face in her shoulder.
"I've never felt this safe before, Taylor." I confessed. "I need you in my life forever." the hand that was stroking my back stilled momentarily and I tensed a little.
"As I need you, Kiara." she responded and I let myself drift off in those arms.
The insistent ringing woke me up. "Yeah?" I heard a sleepy voice answer the phone. I rested my head on my lover's chest as she talked into the receiver.
"Hello?" My head came up and I saw the irritated look on Taylor's face as she ended the call.
"What is it?" my voice sounded husky with sleep and I cleared my throat.
"Dunno. Some asshole who didn't speak. I think I should change my number or something. It's getting on my nerves." she said.
"C'mon. Go back to sleep." she pulled me to her, sighing when I returned to her arms. I felt her kiss my head and I fell right back to sleep.
"I praise the Lord above
For sending me your love"
Morning found me waking up in a very comfortable and snug position, on a steadily rising and falling chest. "Morning." a gentle voice greeted me and I peered up into a pair of brown eyes.
"Mm..." I hummed. I could feel and hear Taylor chuckle as I lay back lazily on her.
"Look who's here?" I looked up to see Velvet peering at me with his luminous green eyes. He purred as Taylor scratched him behind his ears, his eyes squeezing shut in pleasure and then opening again to stare at me.
"What?" I asked the cat, sticking out my tongue. Taylor chuckled again.
"C'mere, precious." she cooed and the sleek black cat settled beside me, sharing my pillow. Sometimes I was damn jealous of the cat. It was silly, but Taylor really loved Velvet a lot.
"Taylor?" Okay, she's gonna think I'm mad if I say this but...
I glanced at the cat. "I'm jealous." I admitted and her eyes widened in surprise and amusement.
Hm. Act dumb, huh? "Velvet." I persisted.
"What's there to be jealous about, love?" she chuckled again as Velvet rubbed his head along her chest.
"You love him more than you love me. See, my eyes are green with jealousy."
This time, Taylor burst out laughing. "You eyes have always been green, Kiara. Just like my precious here."
Fine. I'm being silly. "Yeah, I know. Just being silly. Sorry."
Taylor lifted my face to hers. "Don't doubt my love for you okay? I love you more than anything in this world." she stated solemnly. My heart melted at those words and my insecurities faded away.
"Oh god, I don't believe this. I was actually jealous over a cat." I hid my face in my hands. "I love you more than anything, Taylor. You are the only one, my everything." I said before patting Velvet. We both knew that the woman with us was the most important thing in each other's lives and we didn't challenge that. Cat and human came to an understanding as Taylor chuckled for the hundredth time that morning.
I bounced into the living area with my mug of coffee and spied Boxer and Tavin rolling around, yelping at each other. They were wrestling for the new ball that we bought for them. Sitting down on the couch, I picked up the morning paper when Boxer trotted up to me with something in his mouth. "What's that boy?" I took the white envelope from him and carried him onto my lap. Stroking him absently, I read the note.
"Thou shalt not commit adultery."
it said. What the-? Another one? It couldn't be a mistake then. But why was someone sending this kind of messages to Taylor? Or to me?
"Hey." I looked up and saw Taylor walking towards me with her mug of coffee. She looked good in her casual white short sleeved men's shirt and khaki bermudas.
"See what I've got here. Another note." Taylor frowned and sat down beside me. She read the note and pulled her leg up onto the couch, resting her chin in her hand in a thinking position. I could feel her mind running over the possiblities of culprit and the reasons for doing it. Suddenly, a loud shriek broke our reveries and Taylor jumped up in one fluid motion and ran out onto the porch.
"Precious!" she shouted. Following behind, I saw that Velvet was lying on the porch, blood gushing out of his side. Someone was running away but Taylor was oblivious to anything.
"Oh god..." she muttered, her face strickened.
"C'mon, Taylor, let's get him to the vet. Taylor? Honey, c'mon." she slowly registered my words and picked Velvet up in her shaking arms.
"Let's go." she said in a tight tone. We reached her jeep and realised that someone had dumped paint over it and and cut up the seats very badly.
"Dammit!" she shouted. "The fucking bastard!" her eyes flashed in anger as she took in the situation. "Kiara? take out the convertible from the garage. Let's go." I nodded mutely and did as I was told. Something was nagging at the back of my mind but I didn't know what. All that was important now was to get Velvet to the vet.
"Honey, he'll be okay..." the words of consolation didn't help. Who the hell would have done that? Who? my head hurt. My heart hurt when I saw how much Taylor was hurting. We were sitting outside the room where Velvet was being attended to by the veterinarian. Taylor's shirt was stained with the cat's blood and she looked extremely worried.
"Taylor..." I gave up trying to get her out of her daze as we waited for the vet to come out and settled for threading my fingers through hers.
"How's he?" the vet came out from the room and Taylor jumped up immediately, pulling me up with her.
"He's fine. Lost some blood but he's okay. That was some gash. What happened?"
We hurried into the room while I told him what happened. Taylor gave a sigh of relief when she spotted Velvet resting on the stand, the bandage around his tummy a white contrast to his sleek black fur.
"You can take him back. Just bring him here again next week so that I can take out his stitches." the vet announced. Stroking his fur gently, Taylor held a look of vulnerability that threatened to break my heart. It wasn't always that Taylor showed her true feelings.
"C'mon, love. Let's get him back home, okay?" Taylor gave me a watery smile and nod.
"Thanks, doc. You don't know how much this means to me. Thank you." she gave the vet a weary smile as she picked Velvet up with utmost gentleness. The vet gave us a look at my show of affections but I ignored him. There were many more important things than a stupid opinion right now. I wrapped my arm around Taylor's waist and led her out of the room.
Leaving the room silently after putting Taylor to bed, I made my way to the living area. It had been an emotionally draining day for both of us but all had ended well with Velvet tucked in Taylor's embrace right now. The asian woman refused to be parted from her precious cat and I did not want to force her. I smiled a little as I recalled the sweet picture of my lover with the cat, both snoozing contentedly on the large canopy bed in the room just mere metres away from me. The police had came to take our statements and the mechanics came to tow the jeep away. Taking a drink from my mug, my brows furrowed as my thoughts turned from my love to the culprit of all the pranks. Who was it? The nagging voice from the morning returned as I paced around the kitchen. The retreating back of the person who ran away was somewhat familiar. My mug fell to the ground with a clash as I realised with a start that the person was Rebecca. My nightmare was back to haunt me. And this time, it's Taylor she's up against.
"You're sure about this?"
I nodded, twiddling my fingers nervously. "I couldn't place where I saw that person who was running away yesterday, but when I thought about it last night, it hit me that the person is Rebecca. Who else could it be?"
Taylor's brow furrowed. "Let's find out." she snarled and picked up the cordless phone. Velvet was feeling better today, he even got some milk down. It was Taylor that I was rather worried about. She was on the roll and determined to get the culprit who was hurting her and her family. It still felt a little funny to think of me being her 'family' but I had to admit that it was a good feeling.
"Kevin?" I heard Taylor talking into the receiver. Taylor had told me about Kevin before. He was her old friend, back from her college days, together with Luke, her ex-husband and Melanie, Kevin's cousin. She had spoken little about Mel, but enough for me to know that she had loved the woman. It made me a little uncomfortable when she talked about Mel, though, for I had to admit that I felt a little threatened by the actress' involvement with my lover. Taylor told me about their kiss, and the trip to Mexico after Jon's arrest, and I had to suppress the jealousy and anger that rose up within me. I had no right to demand for her loyalty after what I did to her, but I was glad and relieved that she had came back to me after the trip. I never knew what transcended between the two ex-lovers, and a small part of me pray that I would never find out. What mattered was the fact that Taylor was back with me and Mel was somewhere in hollywood, living her stardom.
"Okay, I'll see you tonight then." Taylor strolled over to where I was and hung up the phone.
"Penny for your thoughts?" she asked, slipping her arm around me.
"Mm... My thoughts cost much more than that, you miser." I teased. Chuckling slightly, Taylor relaxed on the couch.
"Kevin invited us over to his place for dinner tonight and I took the liberty of agreeing. You don't mind, do you?" I shook my head. It would be nice to meet Taylor's friends.
"Kevin will help me find out about this Rebecca person. You said her name was Rebecca Callaway?" I nodded, cringing inwardly at the mere mention of her name. As if sensing my discomfort, Taylor massaged the nape of my neck.
"Everything'll be fine okay? I won't allow that bitch to threaten my family again." I gave her a weak smile.
"I'm sorry." I felt guilty that she had to go through all this rubbish because of me.
"What's that for?" she asked, looking deeply into my eyes. "You're sorry that you're with me?" I shook my head vehemently.
"Then? you know that I'd do anything for you. Even if I have to go to hell and back, I'll do it. You're not a burden okay?"
Burying my head in her chest, I felt so relieved. The small nagging insecurity faded away with those words of affirmation and I knew that I had finally found my knight in shining armour against the evil witch that was Rebecca.
"I cherish every hug
I really love you"
Kevin's place was well furnished. A small house in one of the friendly neighbourhoods, it had a small garage and a nice swing on the porch. The interior of the house was warm and cosy. Family pictures decorated the whole mantelpiece and shelves in the family area. Kevin had two children. Adam was seven this year and a newly born, Amanda was just a few weeks old. Lisa, kevin's wife, was a gentle and demure woman who was very sweet and friendly. And boy, did she make the best lasagne that I have ever tried! After the dinner, Taylor and Kevin went into the den to talk about what had happened and I snuck off to the kitchen to get the secret recipe for the delicious dinner we had. I know that Taylor loved pasta, and it would be quite a surprise if I prepared this dish for her someday.
"Okay, I'll give it to you in a minute." Lisa said with a twinkle. "Taylor's a really great person. Even though I only met her the last time she came, Kevin always talked about her to me. They shared some really groovy memories."
I chuckled, trying to imagine a younger version of Taylor in some of the adventures that Kevin had told us earlier on during dinner.
"You two are really happy together, aren't you?" lisa asked as we dried off the dishes. I blushed slightly.
"Yes, we are."
Lisa nodded with a smile. "I always believed that love is love, no matter who its between. Love can never be wrong. I'm happy for you, Kiara. Even though we just met, I really like you." she beamed as we sat down with a cup of hot chocolate.
"Here. The recipe."
I took the paper from her and stuffed it into my pocket. "Thanks." I grinned and we both turned when Kevin and Taylor entered the kitchen.
"Kiara? Wanna go now? It's getting late." I got up from my seat.
"Hey, thanks for the dinner. It was verrrry fulfilling." Taylor winked at Lisa as Kevin laughed.
"Always had a soft spot for pasta huh, Taylor?" I slipped my hand through Taylor's and she pulled me out of the kitchen.
"Okay then Kev, gimme a call asap and I'll let you know if anything else happens." Kevin nodded and we left.
"There was another envelope this morning." Taylor said quietly when we reached home. Munching an apple, I walked over to where she was, staring at the computer screen in the study room. Her tanned muscular leg was propped up on the work desk and the other rested on the chair that she was reclined in. She looked relaxed yet alert at the same time, clicking away on the keyboard.
"What did it say?" I sat on the desk, peering at the monitor. She paused from her work and took out an envelope. The note read:
"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife."
I glanced up from the note. Taylor was busily typing away. "Wife?" I said incredulously and she stopped typing and leaned back into the armchair.
"Mm hmm.. Seems that Ms. Callaway here thinks that I've coveted her wife. Though I never knew I had such a psychotic neighbour." she said in dark humour.
"C'mere" she pulled me towards her and she held me, resting her head on my waist as I wrapped my arms around her, the apple in my hand forgotten. Her hand stroke the small of my back and I closed my eyes, wondering about the amount of security a mere touch could give me. Then I felt her arms moving along my sides, lifting my shirt up a little and exposing my stomach. I gave a sharp intake of breath when I felt her lips grazing upon my abs and belly button, moving steadily up. She rose to face me, her eyes lidded with desire. She took the apple from me and crunched on it once before throwing it into the rubbish bin beside the desk. Smothering me with a kiss that I felt deep down my soul, she pulled me up and settled me on the work desk. I wrapped my legs around her waist as the kiss deepened passionately.
"I thought you had to work." I whispered, my breathing irregular. I could feel my arousal on her stomach as she grinded into me in seductive slowness.
"Who says I'm not?" she husked out. I had to agree with her on that.
I awoke feeling empty. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I realised that Taylor wasn't around. Sitting up on the bed, I yawned and stretched. I padded out to the living area and spotted Velvet resting in his basket. One more day and his stitches could be removed. The dogs weren't around either, so I assumed that they were out on the beach. Jogging, probably. Slipping into a white tank top and shorts, I tied my hair up into a high ponytail. If we went to the mall today, I would get it cropped. Stopping to carry Velvet, I let myself out of the glass beach house and walked onto the beach.
Glancing around, I felt a tingly feeling down my spine. Where are you, Taylor? I took to a slow jog, not wanting to jerk Velvet too much in his state and gave a sigh of relief when I spotted Boxer and Tavin. As I approached them, however, my look changed into one of concern when I realised that Taylor was bending over on the sand, her hands covering her face. Boxer and Tavin were yelping around her, licking her but she wasn't moving.
"Taylor?" I shouted, my voice worried. I saw the form moving a little and I gave a sigh of relief. The dogs came scampering towards me as I set Velvet down and went up to my lover.
"Taylor? What's wrong?" I couldn't see her face. She looked up, her face scrunged up in pain and I gasped in shock. The right side of her face was reddish, and so was a small part of her neck. Her white t-shirt was stained brown.
"It looks worse than it is." she said bravely, her face still in a grimace.
"What happened?" I helped her up and walked towards the house.
"Boxer got her, didn't you, buddy?" the dog barked when he heard his name. "He bit her before she ran away." I didn't have to ask who. Rebecca. I could feel cold fury rising within me when I settled Taylor on the couch and took a look at her face. "She threw coffee on you?"
Taylor nodded. "I was out jogging and someone ran up to me and tried to drown me in coffee. Was scalding hot too." she added with a small humourless laugh. "Happened too fast for me to react. Then Boxer jumped up and bit her. Then she ran away."
Returning with a basin of cool water and cloth, I proceeded to clean up the scalded area. Taylor had taken off her shirt and was in her sports bra and track pants. "That bitch." my heart hurt when I touched the cloth to my lover's skin.
"It's not that bad, really. I can hardly feel the burn." she tried to grin.
"Don't. Move." I ordered sternly and she gave me a look of surprise.
"Sorry." I muttered, applying some cream on the wound. "I'm really pissed."
Taylor shrugged. "We'll get her. At least she's coming at me and not you. Just as long as you're safe..." I gave her a look that admonished whatever she was going to say.
"Don't you dare say that. Hurting you is like hurting me. Maybe even more so." we sat there, looking into each other's eyes when the phone rang.
"Hello?" I picked up the receiver. "Hello Kiara." It was Rebecca. "Damn you, bitch. What the fuck do you want? Just get out of my life, will you?" I shouted, losing my hold over my temper.
"Come back to me. You know you love me..."
I gave the receiver a look of total disgust. "You are so out of it. I'm in love with Taylor. And I'm warning you, you hurt her one more time and I'll tear you apart, limb from limb."
Her cackling was all that was heard on the other side of the line before I pressed the end call button.
"Don't have to ask who that was huh?" Taylor tried to joke weakly. My shoulders shaking, I could feel tears coming.
"Hey..." Taylor put her arms around me. I hated being so weak, hated not being able to protect Taylor, hated having my past come back to haunt me.
"Son of a bitch. We'll get her. I swear."
Nodding mutely, I pulled away from her embrace and wiped my eyes. "Look at me, crying when you are the one who's hurt."
Giving me a wry smile, Taylor picked up the phone as it rang again. "What?" she barked into the receiver testily, thinking that it might be Rebecca.
"Taylor?" It was Kev. Explaining her earlier hostility, Taylor told Kevin about what happened.
"What did he say?" I asked when Taylor hung up the phone.
"He's got her. She's staying in this apartment down the fifth avenue."
Nodding, I picked up the receiver again. It might come in handy that I was a detective now.
My partner, Hoby gasped when we barged into the apartment where Rebecca was at. Kevin had traced her to the apartment only that morning. He had caught sight of her returning with a bloodied leg and a small limp. Boxer's creation, I supposed. We didn't think that she would welcome us with coffee if we rang the doorbell so we had crashed our way through. The sight before us was eerie to the max. The room was in a mess. Leftovers were spewed all over the floor and roaches were scurrying all over. Clothes were strewned over the couches and coffee table and the smell was overpowering. But what had made my partner gasp was the walls that were covered with pictures of Taylor and me. Most of the pictures were of Taylor. Some of them were zoomed in and caught just certain parts of her features, but others were clear and focused. The eerie part was the slashes in the pictures that rendered some of them unrecognisable. Red paint were splattered over the pictures and one word was written over the shrine that Rebecca Callaway had constructed for Taylor. "Die".
A sound attracted our attention from within the room and we snapped out of our momentary shock.
"She got away." Hoby said in a flat voice. I walked into the room and saw the window that was hanging open.
"She'll come back for us." I whispered as I looked around her room. The walls here were covered with mostly my pictures. I shuddered to think that the woman had my face as her wallpaper. "C'mon. Let's go. On't wanna be arrested for trespassing." I mumbled to my partner and we left the dinghy apartment.
Talk about being obsessed. This was way too much. I never should have been so careless as to appear on the television prior to Jon's arrest. It had never crossed my mind that Rebecca would have caught the news and traced me from there. Stupid. Plain stupid.
"Feeling okay?" a concerned voice interrupted my ruminations.
"Yeah. Just a little freaked out." I said with a weary smile. "I really know how to pick my women, huh?"
Taylor flashed me a smile. "Yeah. Maybe there's a psychotic part of me that you haven't seen yet."
I took the glass of watermelon juice from her and gave her a mock glare. "Now you tell me. Looks like I'll have to stick with you forever then."
Another smile then in a more serious tone, she said "I'll never hurt you, you know that, right?" I nodded, leaning into the familiar presence. I loved Taylor's smell. She always used "Hugo Aqua Elements" and the scent lingered on her. No matter where I was, a waft of that scent always made me think of her. Not that I didn't do enough of that already.
"She'll come for us." I stated tightly.
"I know. But we're ready for her." Taylor tightened her hold around me as we lapsed into silence.
An annonymous call to the police department led them to conduct their own search in Rebecca's rented apartment.
"Looks like you've got a number one wacko on your tails, ma'am." the officer that came by our place told us. "All we've got though, is her attempting to hurt your friend here. There is no evidence that she was the one who hurt the cat and vandalised your car. But if we get her, she'll be put under psychaitric care. Unless, of course, if she tries anything more serious on you guys." that last part of the statement gave me an uneasy feeling.
"I'm sure she will." I said to the young constable before thanking him for his help. Hoby was working on the case too, as well as Kevin, but I know that I would only stop feeling this way if we really got her put away.
"I will never find another lover
Sweeter than you
Sweeter than you"
"I thought this was a vacation." I complained as Taylor and I moped around the house.
"I guess we'll just have to take a real one after this. What do you think?" she asked with a smile.
Hm. Not a bad idea. "Cool. Let's just hope that we can do that fast. She's like a thorn in my ass for a very long time." I grumbled lightly.
"Ooh. That's an incentive to get her out huh?" Taylor commented lewdly and I shot her a mock glare.
"Okay. Enough of this. Let's get out and grab some dinner." Taylor suggested.
"But, what if..."
She shrugged a little. "No point staying here and waiting for her to come, right? it could be days. Let's just go out, anyway Kevin's got someone protecting us in the shadows. Maybe it could lure her out."
Nodding, I went to get changed. I was in the middle of putting on my blouse when I felt two hands circle my waist.
"I thought we were going out." I breathed.
"Mm hmm..." Taylor nuzzled my neck. "I'm helping you change." she said impishly and turned me to face her. "You look stunning." she said with admiration plain to see in her eyes.
"Thank you." I blushed slightly. She made me feel like a schoolgirl sometimes. "You don't look to bad yourself." I commented, running my eyes down the length of her leather cladded body.
"Mmm... Made for each other I suppose." her hand appeared from behind her.
"For you, my love."
It was a single stalk of sunflower. My favourite flower. How did she know? following her gaze, I saw that there was a small box attached to the stalk with a string.
"What's that?" her brow rose as she gave me a mysterious smile. I opened the box with slightly shaky fingers and gave a small gasp at the silver bracelet that peeked at me.
"It's beautiful, Taylor." I said in awe as I fingered the simple yet elegant looking bracelet that sat snugly in the box.
"You like?" she asked and I nodded enthusiastically.
"Can I put it on for you?" I nodded again as she chuckled slightly and took the bracelet out. It fit my wrist perfectly and I couldn't help but notice how much the emerald reminded me of my eyes.
"Yeah. That's why I bought it in the first place, actually. I looked at it and I thought to myself 'this has to be Kiara's.'"
Grinning, I hugged her to me, taking in her familiar scent again. "Thank you."
Curiosity tugged at my insides when Taylor led me to the secret restaurant that she refused to tell me about. Twirling the flower in my hand, I let her pull me deeper into the surprise that she admitted she prepared for me. I felt guilty that we should let our guard down when Rebecca was still somewhere out there but I couldn't help but agree with Taylor that we shouldn't let her bring us down. I realised that Taylor had brought us to a Thai restaurant. I recalled having mentioned the place to Taylor once when our car sped past it but it never occurred to me that she had taken note of it. It warmed my insides up, knowing that my lover was so sweet and romantic. The waitress led us to our seats. Taylor had made prior reservations and had already ordered for the food to be served once we reached there.
"Oh!" there was a nicely wrapped up package on the table. "What's this?" I laid down my flower and fingered the gay wrappings on the package.
"Maybe someone left it here?" Taylor gave me a mischievious smile.
She chuckled, stroking my knuckles lightly. "Open it. It's for you." I gave her a look and excited smile and proceeded to unwrap the package. I opened the box. There were so many small hand folded hearts in it. I wondered when she had the time to sneak off and fold them. Putting my hand inside the box, I fished out a small beanie toy.
"Hey! it's the little cutie we saw that day at the mall!" I exclaimed, surprised that Taylor had noticed my liking for it. I didn't even voice it out. Snickering at my excited look, Taylor leaned back into her seat when I unravelled the last of the surprise. Or so I thought. The next thing I fished out was a soft leather keychain with "T" inscript on.
I fingered the letterings. Her house keys were dangling through the loop. Our house keys. Looking up into the pair of smiling eyes, I noticed her taking out a similar keychain. Hers had "K" inscript on it. How sweet. Putting the box aside, I started folding up the wrappers.
"There's something else you have overlooked." Taylor said and I reached to open the box again. "No, it's not there."
Giving her a questioning glance, I looked around me. "Where?" then I realised that there was a small blue colored envelope attached to the beanie that had 'Open me!' scrawled on it. Opening it carefully so as to not tear it, two thin pieces of paper dropped out.
"Tickets to the Aerosmith concert!"
Her eyes danced in mirth at my outburst and many glances around the restaurants fell on me. I didn't care. The damn concert was held in England a month from now to date! "Oh my God my God my God..." I couldn't believe it when I fingered the precious pieces of paper in my hand. By then, the waitress had arrived with our meal.
"Let's eat." she said with a casual smile.
"Thank you for tonight. It was lovely." I said shyly, hugging my beanie to me. We named the yellow creature "Mudpie".
"I'm glad you liked what I did." Taylor gave me a sheepish grin.
"Liked? I loved it Taylor. You are so sweet. And I don't even know what it's all for?"
Not that I minded, but I wanted to know if I had missed the occassion. Nope, it wasn't any anniversary, that was two weeks away. Nope, not her birthday, not mine either, for all that mattered.
"I just did it because you're special to me and I love you." I couldn't find my voice to answer that. I was rendered speechless.
"C'mon." Taylor was getting a little awkward with all these proclamations. She pulled me to her and we started walking back to the parking lot to end our date. Correction. Our lifelong date would never end.
The parking lot was rather empty. It was pretty late and there were only a couple of cars left.
"Shall we go down to the pub?" Taylor asked.
Wow. That might be a pretty good idea. It has been some time since I last danced.
"Um, do I have to go back and get changed?" I looked down at my lavender blouse and white slacks.
"Nah. You look perfect. Like always." Taylor's eyes twinkled at my blush. The screeching of tires drowned out my answer and our heads jerked up in unison to see the glaring headlights of an explorer that was coming straight at us.
"Fuck!" I heard Taylor swear before she pushed me aside to safety and she herself rolled away from the vehicle. I noticed that she purposely rolled away from me so that Rebecca would concentrate on her and not hurt me. Dammit, Taylor! I got up on my feet and took out my pistol. Taking aim, I shot at the front tire of the explorer that had made a u-turn and was back, running straight at Taylor. The bulk of the vehicle didn't even skid much and continued its track. My heart jumped as Taylor leapt out of the way again. I heard more shootings and realised with a start that the bodyguard that Kevin had placed to look out for us was also taking shots at the vehicle. Together, we kept shooting at the car that had made another u-turn to come back at us and the explorer finally skidded and crashed into one of the cars on the side before it crashed into us. No sound was emitted from the crash safe for the hissing sound of the dying engine. I took a quick look at Taylor. The whole of her right arm was grazed when she scrambled away from the vehicle, but that was all the injury I could see right now.
Approaching the vehicle on one side was James, our 'bodyguard'. I rounded off the other side and Taylor was trailing a little behind James. Suddenly, the door flung open and the next thing I knew, there was a gunshot and James was down, clutching at his shoulder. I took a few shots in panic and the clicking of the gun told me that I had ran out of ammunition.
"C'mon, Becca!" I shouted in false bravado. "Stop hiding and let me see your sorry ass!" The anger was real, though. After what seemed like an eternity, she crept out from within the vehicle.
"Hello, Kiara." she rolled my name with her tongue. I flinched inwardly. "Been a long time, my love."
Oh that sounds downright disgusting. "Not long enough for me." I said, confident that the wacko wouldn't hurt me. From the corner of my eye, I could see that Taylor was clutching at the gun of the fallen James.
"Uh uh, I wouldn't do that if I were you, Taylor." Becca's eyes seeped hatred and her voice oozed venom as she turned towards Taylor, her gun trained on her. She was crazy, not stupid. Becca had changed little from the last time I had seen her. Her hair had grown out quite a bit and the blond locks were tied back from her face in a single ponytail. She towered over me at 5'10 and her build was quite menacing. Cladded in a pair of denims and a blue t-shirt, she looked as crazy as crazy could be. What the hell did I find attractive about this maniac anyway? God.
"Hey, Becca. Let's just cool it okay? Chill. What do you want?" I tried to distract her from Taylor. I would die if Taylor got more hurt because of me.
"No. You look at me you pussy face crap!" Taylor stood up from the fallen James and walked away from him deliberately. What was she trying to do?!
"I'm the bitch who took Kiara away from you. I'm the one who coveted your... property. You angry? C'mon. Take it out on me. One on one. No more games, no more crap. I dare you. Throw away your gun and take me on. C'mon. Or are you chicken?"
At the mention "Chicken", Becca's eyes flashed. "No one calls me chicken!" The insane look in her eyes increased tenfold as she tucked her .38 behind her. A good three inches above Taylor, and a whole lot more big sized, Taylor looked dwarfed by her.
"You bitch. I'll make you pay. Kiara's mine. Always have been, always will be." Taylor had inched her way over to a wall as Becca approached her. In a split second, she grabbed the fire extinguisher and shot at Becca. I ran towards them as Becca shrieked in surprise and pain as the nitrogen hit her eyes. Pouncing on the temporarily blinded woman, Taylor threw a punch.
"That's for hitting Kiara." she shouted as her fist collided with the face. Before she could throw another punch, the bigger woman had reached out and grasped Taylor's throat, cutting off her air supply. Taking up the fire extinguisher, I didn't know where to hit for the duo were now rolling on the ground. Another crunch and I realised that Becca landed a punch on Taylor. She was now on top of the struggle and had her hand on the butt of her .38, aiming it at Taylor. I slammed the extinguisher down on Becca's head as a shot went off and I my heart stopped. Did she manage to take the shot after all?
Becca rolled off Taylor and I saw in horror that Taylor was covered in blood.
"Taylor!" I screamed, running towards the prone figure on the ground. James came up from behind me, clutching at his gushing wound.
"Taylor?" I wiped away the blood that was splattered all over her face. Her eyes opened. Thank God!
I started sobbing, holding my lover to me.
"Hey... It's okay, the blood's not mine." I looked up and saw James smiling weakly at me.
"Yeah. I shot her." he said before crumpling on the ground beside Taylor.
"Much as I love this position we're in, I think it's time to call the cops, love." Taylor whispered.
"And I will never find another lover
More precious than you
More precious than you"
Sitting outside the ward in the hospital, I clutched at "Mudpie". This was not the way a perfect date should end. I was stained with Taylor's, James' and Becca's blood. Thinking of the tall blonde made my heart chill. She wasn't dead, nosiree. I wasn't that lucky. But she took a heavy hit on her head and she was shot in the side by James. Her condition was not stable though, and the doctors were still inside, trying to save her. The doctor came out, a weary look on his face.
"How're they?" I asked, frantic with worry.
"They're okay. The man lost quite a lot of blood but he's alright now, asleep. Phobe, James' girlfriend was with me and she heaved a breath of relief.
"Can I go see him, doctor?"
The man nodded. "But just for a while. He needs rest." Phobe rushed into the room.
"Can I go see Taylor too?" the doctor nodded. "Remember, silence." he said with a tired wink.
"Hey." I fingered the bruise face lying on the bed before me.
"Hello." the voice croaked. "I'm okay. I'll be up and about in a second. Get me outta here." she winced and tried to sit up.
"No, you stay here. The doctor has to check to see if you have any internal bleeding." I ordered in a soft commanding voice.
"Are you okay?" she asked, looking me over.
"Yeah." she was worried about me? My arms slightly grazed but that was about it. "You're the one I'm worried about."
Taylor gave me a wink. "No problemo. My face hurts though." she grinned sheepishly and then winced. "She throws a mighty left hook." Taylor commented wryly.
Taylor's neck was covered with ugly bruises that Becca had given her when she tried to strangle her. her arm was bandaged and she looked really tired.
"Hey, why don't you get some rest, huh?" I stroke her face gently, careful not to cause her more pain.
"Kiara, I wanna go home and rest. Could you get the doctor in, please?" she gave me those puppy eyes and I sighed.
"Alright. You're a spoilt brat you know?" Giving me an impish grin, I got up from the bed and called the doctor in.
Taylor had fallen asleep the moment her head hit the pillows. The painkillers had taken effect and she was gone in a flash. The day had gone by so fast that everything was still spinning for me. Putting down the beanie above the PC, I stretched myself and padded off to take a bath. Sitting in the bathtub with steam rising all around me, I relaxed my tensed muscles. It had been a huge relief now that Becca was put away for good. My mouth curled up in a smile when I recalled all the sweet things that Taylor had done for me that day. The sunflower was put in a crystal vase in our bedroom and the keychain was sitting snugly on the mantelpiece together with Taylor's. Hm. My mind raced as I thought about what to do for her for our anniversary. My thoughts were rudely interrupted by the shrill ringing of the phone.
"Damn. You'll wake her up! who the hell is it anyway?" I got out from the tub and picked up the phone.
"Carmen please." It was a lady's voice.
"Who's this? she's um, sleeping."
"I'm her sister. Evelyn. It's um, kinda important."
Her sister. Carmen has never mentioned her family to me. All I knew was that they had disowned her and wanted nothing to do with her anymore after they found out about her sexuality.
"She's not feeling well, do you think you wanna leave a message?" I tried again. The woman on the other side of the line seemed rather reluctant.
"I'm at the airport now." she confessed. "I was just wondering if I could drop by maybe?"
Oh. Okay, great. What do I do now?
"Um, I could come over and get you if that's okay?"
The woman thought for a while. "Okay. "
We arranged for a place to meet and I gave her a detailed description of myself so that she could recognise me. With one last loving look at my lover who was sleeping innocently on the bed, I took my keys and set off for the airport.
"Hi." an uncertain looking Chinese girl came up to me.
"You must be Evelyn." I said with a warm smile. She nodded. She was in her early twenties.
"Yes, I am. And you are Kiara?"
I nodded. "C'mon, let's get outta here." I said, helping her with her luggage. She was rather silent in the car and I tried to get her talking.
"So, what brings you here?" I asked.
Evelyn shot me a look. "Are you Carmen's um..." she couldn't finish her question.
Okay... "Lover? Yes. I am."
"Anything wrong with that?" I asked, getting a little defensive. I wondered what they did to Taylor exactly.
"No. Not with me." she said hurriedly. I gave her a not and a relieved smile.
"Great. Guess the rest of the family doesn't see it the same way huh?"
She gave another nod. Okay, so they're all not very good talkers, I see. After a long awkward pause, I tried again.
"So, what brings you here?" she played around with the string on her shirt.
"Um, I have come to ask Carmen to go back to Singapore." she admitted.
What for? "What for?" I voiced out my question.
"Our father is sick. I know he wants to see her. He misses her even though he doesn't say so. Everyone misses her. But they are still angry at her, being like that. So I came here to try and persuade her to go back." After so many years, they want her to go back just like that? maybe it is good this way. Maybe everything can be resolved.
"She will go." I said with quiet affirmation. Evelyn gave me a surprised look.
"How do you know?" she asked.
"I know that Taylor is not that unfeeling, unlike... No offense, but unlike your parents." the conversation came to an uneasy end and silence overtook the rest of the trip home.
Opening the door, I was greeted by Boxer and Tavin who had woken up because of the noise. The sun had came up and suddenly I felt so tired. I remembered that Taylor didn't have a guestroom, so I left Evelyn's luggage in the living room. Walking to the kitchen, I set out to make a cup of much needed coffee.
"Are you hungry?" I asked the small figure who followed me in. Shaking her head, the girl took in the place with big rounded eyes.
"That's Boxer. The one with the black tail is Tavin." I introduced her to the dogs who were sniffing at her.
"Oh." she expressed in delight. She was quite a sweet girl, actually. She didn't look much like Taylor, but they shared the same pair of eyes. Her hair was fine and straight and it rested on her shoulders. Taylor's was more wavy and her face held more character. Evelyn looked more meek and genteel, the type who needed someone to protect and look after. Taylor needed someone to take care of her too, more so actually, for she had been fighting for herself too long.
"Kiara?" I heard a sleepy voice drift out from the bedroom. Taylor was rubbing her eyes sleepily as she padded into the kitchen, missing the lone figure in the living room.
"Morning." she said with a small smile and kissed me affectionately. Evelyn looked rather awkward and she turned away.
"Um, Taylor?" I wanted to tell her that her sister was right there but Taylor went rambling on.
"What're you doing in your outside clothes? Didn't you get some sleep?"
Smoothing her hair, I held her hand and pulled her over to the living room. "I went to pick someone up from the airport."
That was when Taylor caught sight of her sister. "Eve!" she exclaimed. Evelyn turned around to smile but her face turned into one that held a shocked expression.
"Sis, what happened to your face? And your arm! Are you okay?" she shot me an accusing look that was noticed by Taylor too.
"Hey. It's not her fault. You think I can get beaten up by this little lady here?" she snickered when I gave her side a poke.
"It was just a silly accident." Taylor was unwilling to divulge anything much. I could see that the two siblings were rather uncomfortable and decided to put a foot in.
"Shall we all take a seat?"
Nodding, they settled down, Taylor and me on the couch, and Evelyn on the armchair. "So, wassup?" Taylor asked cheerily. She was really happy to see her sister, but I felt her stiffness.
"Pa's sick." Evelyn said and Taylor rose slightly.
"How's he now?" she asked in a strained voice.
"It's quite bad. I... will you come back to see him?" Taylor slumped back onto the couch.
"He won't want to see me." her voice was pained and I squeezed her hand gently. She gave me a grateful look and smile.
"You know his temper, jie..." Evelyn called Taylor in mandarin. "He's always like that. But he really misses you. I know. Even kor knows." she said, indicating their older brother.
Silent for a moment, Taylor sighed. "If you're sure. I will go back. But I don't want to aggravate his condition. He did say that he never wanted to see me again." she said in a small voice.
How can anyone be so cruel to their own children?
"I'm sure he wants to see you, jie. Please?" Taylor nodded. "Okay." she gave me a look. "Um, Kiara? You..." she didn't know what I wanted to do.
"I'll go with you. If you want me to." I added.
"Yes. I do want you to." she gave me a smile and squeeze. "Thank you." she whispered. Anytime, my love... I smiled back.
Packing a light luggage, the three of us sauntered back to the airport two days later. By that time, Taylor's bruises were much better and were barely visible. I had never been to Singapore, and was quite excited by the prospect of seeing where Taylor was born. I could feel the terseness exuding from Taylor though. It was all I could do to be there for her. Evelyn had become more friendly after a while, and we had become friends.
Hand in entwined hand, we alighted the plane with Eve walking before us. I could see that Taylor was getting more and more uncomfortable and withdrawn by the second. The airport was spacious and rather classy in fact.
"Eve?" Taylor called out to her sister. "Which hospital is he in?" Eve told her and Taylor nodded.
"Tell you what, Kiara and I will make our way there after we check into the hotel. You go on there first okay? I'll see you there." Eve gave Taylor an uncertain look. "Um, jie, you sure that you wanna bring Kiara there?"
I could feel Taylor's anger rise. "Why not?" was all she said, though. Eve shrugged her shoulders.
"Okay. I'll see you then." she turned away.
"Good luck." she added before she walked off. Wow. Good luck huh? My stomach felt funny. What was going to happen? Taylor gave me a tight smile. "Let's go." she said, giving my head a kiss.
The hotel Taylor brought us to was in the town area. I never knew that Singapore was such a busy place! I had always thought of it as a more backward kind of island but it seemed to have proved me wrong. Almost everyone could speak fluent English too.
"Surprised?" a low voice brought me out of my musings.
"Huh?" how could she have known what I was talking about?
"You looked flabberghasted." she said with a smirk. We dropped off our luggages in the room and went downstairs.
"Wanna look around before we go to the hospital?" she asked. Studying her face,I knew that she was trying to delay the inevitable.
"Nah. That can wait. Let's go, Taylor. Do you want me there?"
"Whatever my family says, please do not take offense okay? They tend to be... very hurting." Taylor provided.
Oh honey... What did they say about you? I didn't dare ask. I didn't want to bring back bad memories.
Taylor's hand was getting quite cold. Pulling her to me in the lift, I gave her quite a thorough kiss. "Honey, whatever happens, I'm here okay?"
She gave me a sweet smile. "Yes, my love."
Leaning her forehead against mine, we stared into each others eyes for a while. The bell ringed, signalling our arrival at the level we wanted.
"I love you." I said.
She nodded, taking a deep breath and we walked out of the elevator. It was as if I was walking to meet my executioner. I had never felt this kind of oppressing trepidation before. Sure, I felt fear when I was facing with assholes who were ready to take my life away in a snap, but never this kind of jittery displacement. I felt my lover's body tense up beside me and I looked up. It was a man in his thirties.
"Wen." he said with a forced smile, calling Taylor by her mandarin name that was Jiawen.
"Kor." it was her older brother. He gave me a quick glance. I didn't know if I should smile at him. He averted his gaze and I didn't have to do anything.
This time it was a woman's voice. It was her mother, I suppose. Dressed in a traditional chinese robe, the cheongsam, Taylor's mother looked every bit intimidating even though she was a few inches shorter than me. "What are you doing here with a woman?" Taylor flinched as if she had been hit.
"Ma. Please be more civilised. I'm here to see pa."
Giving me a distasteful glance, the woman stepped aside. "Don't take her in. Do you want to kill your father?"
Taylor glared at her. "Kiara will not kill him with her presence, ma." she said before stepping into the room. A sturdy looking man lay on the hospital bed. A tube stuck from his arm to the dripper. I could see happiness in those clouded eyes and then it was gone in a flash, only to be replaced by anger.
"What are you doing here?" he demanded. "Did I not tell you that you are not my daughter anymore unless you are normal?" I felt the anger for my lover.
What did he mean by this? Did he not know how much he has hurt Taylor with those words?
"Pa. I did not come here to quarrel with you." she said calmly. She led me up to her father. "This is Kiara. She is my friend. I want you... to meet her."
The man glared at me and started coughing. "Are you okay?" Taylor sat down beside her father immediately.
"Get out!" he shouted.
What was the man's problem?
"Pa." Taylor's voice broke. I could see her crying. Taylor's mother came bustling in.
"I told you you were going to aggravate him. What do you want, Carmen? Do you really want to see him dead? Will you only be happy then?"
It was not my place to say anything but this woman was too much! "Auntie, how can you say that?" I asked.
"You! who are you to speak here?" she pointed at me. "All you gays. Abnormal!" she shouted.
Oh God. If my mother had said that to me, I think I would have died right there and then. Taylor rose in one swift motion. "Ma! Please, don't do this." she pleaded. "I'll leave." She pulled me out. Before she left, though, she turned back to her father.
"Pa. I'm sorry for not being what you want me to be. You may not consider me as your daughter anymore, but you'll always be my father." With that, we left.
"Close to me you're like my mother
Close to me you're like my father
Close to me you're like my brother
Close to me you're like my sister"
It hurt me to see Taylor hurt but there was nothing I could about it. After the trip to the hospital, she hadn't spoken a single word to me. Now I knew what she must have gone through so many years ago. Back then, she had nothing, no money, no friends. No wonder she became who she was. Back at the hotel, she had retreated into her shell and stayed there on the armchair.
No answer. Shit, what was I supposed to do?
"Please, talk to me?" she finally turned her gaze on me. The pain and anguish in those brown eyes were so prominent. "Oh sweetie." I hugged her to me as she sobbed.
Taylor was still sleeping after a long night. I didn't know what I was doing when I took the cab down to the hospital. All I knew was that I had to do something to ease the pain Taylor was feeling. Standing at the doorway, I could see that Taylor's dad was awake. Why was it so difficult for him to love her for who she was?
Taking a deep breath, I walked into the room. It took him some time before he realised my presence.
"Who are you?" he asked before recognition flickered over his features. "What do you want?" he asked in a snappy tone.
"To talk. Is that okay? Please?"
Not getting an answer from him, I took a seat beside his bed. "My name is Kiara. Kiara Paterson. And I'm a detective." I introduced myself.
"I'm sorry that you feel this way about... us, but that's not the point here, is it?" I ventured on. "Taylor loves you, as you love her, I'm sure."
That got a reaction from him. I took it as a good sign and continued. "It's not about who she loves, what she prefers. She's still your daughter. And she misses you. She's worried about you. That's why she came back. I know you think that she's abnormal, but she isn't. Uncle, love is love. It comes when it does and we can do nothing to stop it. I love her truly and she loves me. We are not ashamed of who we are. No matter what people say, it doesn't bother us. But what you say, it matters a lot to Taylor. And because of that, it matters a lot to me. Because I love her. And I care for her. That's why what you think of her matters to me."
The old man seemed unmoved. I had failed.
"I'm sorry that I cannot change your mind about us, but at least, change your mind about Taylor. I mean, Carmen. She loves you a lot. Do you know that she couldn't sleep at all last night? After we left, she just broke down. I have never seen her so hurt, so vulnerable. I had to give her tranquillizers for her to calm down." I said sadly before getting up.
"Wait." A voice so soft spoke and I thought I had imagined it. I looked at the fragile looking man. "You love my daughter?" he asked softly. I nodded. "You do not think that it is... abnormal?"
I shook my head. He sighed. "I cannot accept your love. But I do... love my daughter." he said finally.
My heart leapt. That was better than nothing. "Tell her... to come and see me." I gave him a smile.
"Yes uncle. I will. I'm sure Taylor would be delighted at the news." Giving me a weird look, he nodded and shut his eyes.
"He wants to see me?" Taylor was dubious. I nodded.
"What did you tell him?" she asked. "What I felt... what you feel..."
Staring at me, Taylor was speechless. "Thank you." she said at last.
"What for? I didn't do much."
She came to sit beside me. "For putting up with me. I know I haven't been the easiest person to be around the past few days."
I stroke her cheek softly. "Don't be silly, love. I understand." Nuzzling her neck, I relaxed in her arms for the first time in many days. Her arms tightened around me.
"Do you want to come with me?"
"Thank you. I love you, Kiara. You don't know what this means to me."
Sure I do. Everyone needs their families, no matter how much they denied it.
Looking really smart in her dark silk shirt and pants, Taylor entered the wardroom with an air of confidence that she didn't feel at all. I could feel the tension in the room when she entered. Her mother, especially, was angered to see her.
"What are you doing here again?" she was halted by her husband with an arm.
"I called her here." he said and she turned to look at him in surprise. Giving her a look, he said "Now go out. I want to talk to her. Alone."
I wondered at the authority he held over his family. It was as if a word from him was an order that everyone automatically followed immediately without question. He was more like a commander in the army rather than the head of a family. One by one, they trooped out past me. Giving me a smile, Taylor nodded for me to wait for her too. I gave her a wink and gave her father a smile which he grudgingly returned with a nod before leaving the room. Turning around, I saw three faces staring at me, their expressions ranging from friendship to neutrality to hostility. Not knowing what to do, I was somewhat relieved when Eve approached me.
"Why don't you join us for lunch?"
Peeking at her older brother, she looked for signs of disapproval but got none. "Why not?" he relented. Taylor's mother, on the other hand, looked furious that they had actually asked me to join them and was sending daggers my direction. It was going to be a long lunch. I just wished that Taylor was doing better than I was.
"So, Ms. Paterson. What are you working as?" Leonard asked me conversationally.
"I'm a cop." I answered with a smile.
"That's quite unexpected. You look, rather gentle."
Hm. Was that a compliment or was it a doubt of my capabilities? "Well I love my job. It's very challenging. So, what about yourself? Eve tells me that you're a manager in a bank?"
Leonard gave me a polite smile. "Yes. This is my card." he passed a business card to me. "You have been... seeing... my sister for some time?"
My glance flickered to Taylor's mother. Her lips were drawn in a thin line and she was focusing on her lunch. "Yes, I have." I was unsure whether Leonard was an ally or not.
"You two are serious?" he prodded.
"Well, yes, we are."
This time Taylor's mother spoke up. "This is absurd. Both of you are women. How can you be serious? it's an abomination! you cannot have children, you cannot start a family, you are degenerates of this world!" her face was turning into a rather wonderful shade of purple actually.
"I'm sorry you think that, auntie, but it's not the way it is. We love each other, and to be judged because of that is very unfair. I know that Taylor loves you all alot. You should have seen her the night she left. She was crying like there was no tomorrow. She feels it when you say things to hurt her. What you think of her matters a lot." This seemed to pacify the lady a little. Then her scornful voice rang out.
"If so, why is she still this way? She should change, be normal. Get married to a man, give me grandchildren. She should stop being so delusional."
She just didn't understand did she? "I'm sorry to say this, auntie, but you have to realise that she is who she is and that cannot be changed. If you love her, which, I am sure you do, you should accept her for who she is. It would mean the world to her."
Leonard gave me a fake smile. "Let's just, eat, shall we?" I glanced at the dumpling that he offered me and my stomach turned queasy. I wondered how Taylor was doing and wished that she was there with me instead of her fake looking brother, friendly but timid sister and a helluva fierce mother.
Eve and her mother went off to the washroom after a long and tedious lunch. I had wanted to go too, but the thought of facing the woman in a small confinement made me sick so I stayed on with Leonard. He had a perfectly polished manner that I didn't like. It felt like he was trying to impress me. He didn't give me the kind of awe that Taylor did when she was around. Her confidence and the way she carried herself was so much more dominating and exuberant than her brother. He merely looked like a glass stone whereas Taylor was the real diamond.
"You're a beautiful woman, Kiara. If I may call you that?"
"Why have you, um, settled for my sister? I'm sure there are many men out there who would die for your love."
What was he trying to accomplish? Jesus, Taylor please come out fast and take me home... "Because I love her." I said frankly. "She's everything that I look for in a life partner. I love her smile, her sweetness, I love the way she holds me and calls my name. I have not merely settled for her. I chose her, over everyone in the whole world like she chose me." Leonard's stuck on smile wavered a little. "Those are very strong words you use there."
"That's how I feel."
"Maybe you just need a real man?" Aw man. He was starting to sound like a creep. I didn't answer him.
Taylor, please, come out now...
"How about, you and me, we go out for dinner some time?"
This man was hitting on me! I don't believe this. "I don't think so." my voice was cold and stiff as I stared at his hand which was resting on mine.
"Okay then. No offence." he tried to grin suavely but failed miserably.
"You done trying to seduce my girlfriend?" a cool tone cut into the room.
"Wen! What do you mean, seduce? I was just trying to be friendly." Leonard turned to his sister. The sight of my lover blew me away. I was so relieved to see her. She looked happier than she did for the past few days since Eve came over to our place.
"Friendly huh? Get a life, Leonard." she walked over to me and pulled me up.
I nodded, giving her a kiss. Her brow rose in amusement.
"That bad huh?" she mouthed.
I giggled. "Yeah. I'm sooo glad to see you." I whispered back.
"Well then, I'll be seeing you then, brother." Taylor announced. His brow furrowed in confusion.
"Pa has invited me home for dinner tomorrow. Oh, the doctor has made arrangements for him to be discharged and he's changing now. I'm taking him out with me. I'll send him home tonight."
Leonard jumped up from his seat. "What? Ma will kill you if you do that!"
Taylor challenged him with a stare that he backed off from. Spineless little weasel.
"What is it?" A frosty voice interrupted the confrontation. Taylor's mom had returned from the washroom.
"Ma." Leonard went running to his mother.
"I will not allow that woman in my house!" the authorative figure demanded at Taylor.
"I'm sorry, ma, but she was invited, by pa. You could ask him if you want to. He'll tell you the same." the woman's gaze faltered a little.
"He invited her?"
Taylor nodded. I sensed that she was so tired of fighting with her family. "Please, ma. I really just want to have... a meal with all of you. I missed all of you. And Kiara's a part of my life now. She will always be. You don't have to like it, but you'll have to accept it. Please, ma?"
I could actually see Taylor's mother soften visibly. Then I realised that she wouldn't be so against Taylor if not for Leonard. "Alright." she said in defeat.
Taylor gave her mother a dazzling smile. "Thank you." I smiled up at her and gave her hand a squeeze. "Let's go." she whispered with a grin.
I almost whooped with joy when we walked away from the trio in the canteen. We were already drawing a large crowd of inquisitive people but Taylor burned their stares down with her own. It felt so good to hear her say that I was a part of her life now and that I would always be.
"What are you thinking about?" Taylor broke into my thoughts.
"Hm? What makes you so sure that I'm thinking?" I asked with a small smile.
"You're not talking." she smirked. I poked her waist, making her laugh.
"You don't mind that I bring my dad out with us, do you?"
I shook my head. "Of course not. I'm glad, Taylor. He's a hard man, but he loves you. I know that." Giving me an amused look, Taylor ruffled my hair.
"You have become very smart in reading people, haven't you, Ms. Paterson?"
I grinned. "When it comes to you... maybe."
We met Taylor's father who was leaning on a stick. "Pa." she said cheerfully, carrying his small bag. He grunted. I could see that small little twinkle in his eyes that faded away as soon as it came but it was there nevertheless. It didn't take a fool to see how proud this man was of his daughter.
"All my life
I prayed for someone like you, baby
And I thank God that I
That I finally found you"
Sitting in the garden, I could feel the peacefulness of the place that Taylor had driven us to. Her father frequently went there to enjoy the peace and to drink tea. It was also the first time that I tried chinese tea and experienced the art of tea brewing. I watched, entranced when Taylor's father prepared the water and the tea leaves, the way he emptied the first brew and the way he enjoyed the fragrance of the drink.
"Many people think little of this." he said gruffly. "What they do not know that this in itself is an art. The beauty of it is not seen by all." Taylor gave her father a proud look.
"Ahh... Only the elite sees it, right pa? You and I, we are the best. That's why we see it." chuckling slightly, the man drank his tea. That was quite a transformation! I realised that it was the first time I had seen the stern man smile.
"Ahhh, Wen, I have not done this for a long time." he called Taylor by her mandarin name.
"What about kor?"
Taylor's father frowned. "He, always too busy with his clients. Anyway, you know that Leonard and I are not close at all. I do not admire his ways. But your mother, she dotes on him." He gave a sigh.
Somehow I felt that apart from Taylor's sexuality, her father loved her the most. It must have been very hard for him when he chased her out of his house. I wondered if Leonard played a part in it? He had the most to gain if Taylor left. It was very obvious that the man loved his daughter the most.
"Maybe you could come back to States with us, uncle." I started warmly. "Taylor has a house by the beach and it's most wonderful when you see the waves clashing against the sand. It's good for you too, the sea breeze. You'll love it there."
Taylor looked at her father silently. I know that she really hoped that he would agree. After a very long time, he finally spoke up. "The doctor says that I do not have long to live." Refusing to meet our gazes, he carried on. "I am very happy that I can get to see you and spend time with you, Wen." Taylor was trying very hard not to show any emotions. "Maybe it was wrong of me to send you away, with no money at all. But my temper, you know how it is."
Taylor nodded. "I have never blamed you, pa."
His eyes widened a little when Taylor rested her hand on his but he didn't move it away. "Maybe I shall never understand why you love... who you love." he still couldn't bring himself to say it. "But I understand why you love this woman here." he looked at me.
Did he just pay me a compliment? Oh my!
"You are one tough girl." his eyes twinkled, betraying his stern image.
Taylor grinned at that. "I know."
He cleared his throat slightly. "I'm no fool. I know that your brother is trying to keep you away from me so that I would leave him the majority of my possessions."
"You can't very well think that, pa? And no, I don't want your money, I mean, I didn't come back for that." he nodded and coughed.
"I know. I know." then he coughed again. "My will is simple, Wen. I have left your mother the house, a small sum of money for your sister and brother. The rest I am giving it to charity. I know that you have paved a way in america, and that you do not need my money." Taylor nodded. "But I am leaving you my sword. To remember me by. I hope that you would treasure it."
Taylor's eyes watered. "Pa... please don't talk like that."
He shook his head slightly. "You know that I have always doted on you the most."
Taylor nodded mutely.
"My wish is fulfilled. You have come."
I felt that I was intruding in a very private moment, but I just couldn't tear myself away from it for fear that I would interrupt the moment.
"And you, take good care of Wen, alright?" he stared at me before breaking into a grin that looked very much like Taylor's.
"Yes, I will."
He nodded. "Alright. I'm tired. Take me home, Wen."
Wow. Taylor's family. They were so traditional, so conservative. So awesome. Her father, especially. Taylor was so much like him in so many ways. It was a great relief now that Taylor was so happy.
A pair of arms encircled my waist.
"Hey yourself." I leaned back into those arms and continued looking out of the window.
"What do you wanna do tonight?"
I turned in her embrace and looked into her eyes. "Anything. Just as long as I'm with you." she gave me an enigmatic smile.
"I'll say... Dinner and some romance?"
"What would you like to have for dinner?"
I shrugged. "It's your turf, mate!"
She bent down to kiss me lightly. "I love you Kiara. So much it scares me sometimes." Baring her soul in her gaze, she made sure I saw all of her.
"Scares you, huh?" she nodded. "I don't know how I'll survive without you in my arms every day, without waking up with you. Without seeing you smile, without hearing you say you love me."
I pressed two fingers to her lips. "Sshhh... That'll never happen. The feeling's mutual, Taylor. Very, very mutual." I leaned in to resume our kiss and we made slow passionate love, acting out the depth of our feelings for one another in a level deeper than words.
We had dinner at one of the coffee shops. The food was new to me, but they tasted delicious. I learnt so many things about Taylor that I never did know before. I saw where she lived when she was a kid, I saw the places she played in, the tree she climbed, the canal she almost drowned in. After a very filling dinner, we went down to the night safari. It was a whole new experience there.
"Where to now, my own personal tourguide?" I teased when we exited the safari.
"Hmm... What about some drinks at the club?"
I nodded my approval. The night was still young. We went down to a discotheque. Settling down at one of the rare spaces in the pub, I waited while Taylor went to get us some drinks.
Someone sat down beside me. It was a dyke. She looked rather young, though, probably in her early twenties. She was dressed in men's shirt and pants, her hair razor short. I could see her friends cheering her on behind her. I gave her a smile.
"Can I buy you a drink?"
I shook my head demurely.
"C'mon lah, just one?"
What was that? "No thanks." I said over the din.
"What's your name?" she changed her tactic.
Should I tell her? "Kiara." I decided that it wouldn't hurt.
She reached out her hand to shake mine. "I'm Spike." she said, pumping my hand up and down.
"Nice to meet you." she said with a leer. "Can I have your number?"
Taylor... Where are you? I was mentally crying out for help when my hero appeared.
"No you may not."
The dyke looked up at the voice in surprise. Taylor gave her a disinterested look with a raised brow.
"Why not?" the dyke stood up when she saw that Taylor was not much of a threat.
"Because she's with me." Taylor answered coolly, settling her drink down. The dyke looked rather uncertain, but her friends were cheering her on.
Taylor's brows furrowed. "What?"
She threw me a look. I shrugged as well. I had no idea what she was talking about.
"Look, why don't you beat it, huh?"
The dyke's friends came up towards us.
"Give number only what. Why cannot?" One of them pushed Taylor. This was enough. I stood up and went to Taylor.
"Hey look. I'm not interested, alright?" Taylor merely held her ground.
"Heard that? my lover's not interested in you. Why don't you guys look for entertainment somewhere else? she's above your league."
The bunch of women were getting rather agitated at the jibes and they started to take them personally. "You wanna fight is it? Come! We go outside!"
Taylor shot them an amused look. A man in suit came up to see what the commotion was about. Taylor gave him a look and a shrug. "No idea, my good man. All I want is a drink and some music." the bouncer pulled the rowdy group away, warning them to keep quiet. We resettled down with our drinks.
"Um..." I didn't know what to say.
"Can't leave you alone for a minute can I?" Taylor smirked before downing her drink. I blushed slightly.
Taylor nodded. "Young punks. Nothing much. They know a beautiful lady when they see one though." I blushed again. Leaning in to Taylor's touch, I ended up tucked snugly in her arms. Our stools were against each other's and I was between her and the counter where our drinks were. The music was loud and below us, I could see a sea of people dancing furtively against each other. So many of them looked very young. we were so close that I could smell the cologne that she put on frequently and it sent shivers up my spine. I entwined my fingers in hers that were resting on my stomach. She kissed my earlobe gently.
"You're the most beautiful woman here, and I'm honoured that you're with me." she whispered before placing a kiss on my temple. She really knew the exact words that would make me melt.
"There's no one else I'd rather be with, love."
I could feel the glares of the rowdy group of dykes from earlier on drilling holes in our backs but I didn't care. They were totally out of line. There was no use comparing them to Taylor for no comparisons were needed. Taylor looked so cool and confident in her casual dressup that consisted of a black turtleneck, blue denims and a leather trenchcoat which she draped behind her seat. It was way too hot to put that on. Her hair was tied back in a half ponytail, effectively pulling her bangs from her face and showing her sideburns and single silver looped earring on her left ear.
"What're you looking at?" a sultry voice asked, making my heart lurch.
She smiled seductively. "So how do I fare?"
I rose my brow. "Very good, my love."
She clucked her tongue. Tracing a finger down my side, sending jolts of pleasure through me. "Very good?" she asked, leaning in to trace my neck with her tongue.
"Very, very good." I breathed raggardly.
"Mm... Only that?" her hand slipped up to cup my breast and I gasped in surprise and pleasure. My thoughts were getting a little jumbled.
"What about this?" she lowered her head and nipped at my breast through the soft material of the black spaghetti strapped top that I was wearing.
"Uhh... God, Taylor..." I growled softly. I could hear her chuckle floating to my ears. It was a good thing I was clipped between her strong thighs. I was standing between her legs, my right side facing her as her arms encircled me. Suddenly, all movements stopped.
Taylor's head had snapped up in anger. She turned around to face those dykes that we had fended off earlier on. I noticed that the back of Taylor's shirt was wet. Those assholes had deliberately spilt a drink on her.
"What. The. Fuck. Do. You. Want?" she snarled at the young punk that had emptied the drink on my lover.
"Uhhh... Accident." some of them were trying to give their best intimidating look to Taylor but were failing miserably. Why can't they get a life? I was so frustrated. They had interrupted a very erotic loveplay between us and my temper was running short.
"Why don't you guys get a life?" I asked, shooting them an irated look. I was a police officer after all, and it was in my trade to be surly, just that Taylor was doing such a good job all this while and it felt really good to have someone protect me.
"She was damn insulting okay." one of them pointed at Taylor.
"And what did she say that wasn't true? Look, why don't you just leave us alone?"
One of them with a pierced eyebrow came up to me. "Okay, let's go out and fight it out. Then we'll leave you all alone." Would they never rest?
Taylor gave a growl. "You don't wanna do that, punk." the little twit stood her ground.
"Okay, we have a drinking competition."
Taylor's brow rose in dark amusement.
"Losers pay for all."
Taylor shrugged. "Sure." the bouncer approached us and Taylor explained everything to him.
"Jafar here will be the judge, yeah?" heads nodded in approval. The competition was simple. Both women's credit cards were laid on the table. Whoever finished the drinks first would have to pick up the other person's card and rush to the bar to settle the bill. Each woman had a bottle of chivals regal before them.
"Ready," Jafar shouted and both women grabbed the bottlesnecks. "Get set, go!"
They picked up the bottles and drank steadily. Spike was drinking faster than Taylor was and I started getting a little worried. She paused for a while to take a breath and wipe her lips, stealing a glance at Taylor who was drinking the liquor slowly and steadily. Resuming her motion, she had lost precious time in her brief pause. Taylor finished her drink and steadied herself while standing up. She grabbed both the punk's card and her own and walked coolly to the bar.
"I suppose the young woman there is paying for my drinks?" she slurred. The crowd cheered, as did the bartender. Only the group of dykes stared at Taylor sullenly and started scolding their friend. My hero.
"All my life
I prayed for someone like you"
"Owww..." Taylor clutched at her head in agony. Getting up from the hotel bed, I shook my head as I called for room service to bring up some painkillers.
"Regretting it, huh, love?" I giggled as she groaned into the pillow.
"What's there to regret?" she croaked. "They deserved it."
The bell rang and she moaned again. Taking the much needed painkillers from the bellboy, I padded over to my lover who was suffering from a major hangover. "Here, love."
She sat up with a grimace. After taking the pills, she plopped down on the pillow again. "The only consolation is that the punk paid for this headache of mine. Not to mention her own!" she crowed truimphantly.
"You're such a baby!" I exclaimed.
"They asked for it." she proclaimed evenly.
"I was protecting your virtue." she continued.
"I was being a baby." she concluded with a pained look and I started giggling again.
"Fine. Fine. Laugh." she pouted slightly. "Aww...." I gave her a hug and a kiss, cuddling her in my arms.
Taylor had stayed in the hotel to sleep off her hangover while I went shopping for the dinner tonight at Taylor's house. It was only polite that we brought something over. I settled on some cheesecake for desert and continued my shopping happily. Walking past a hair salon, I was tempted to just waltz in and snip off my hair. Anyway I have been wanting to do that for some time already. Making up my mind, I went in.
"Are my eyes playing tricks on me?" Taylor groaned when she saw me back in the hotel room.
"What?" I asked, feigning ignorance.
"Your hair!" she exclaimed. "It's... it's.... gone!" I smirked at my dishevelled looking lover.
"It's cropped, darling. Can you say that? Cropped?"
Taylor gave me a sheepish smile. "Looks kinda nice actually."
Padding over to the bed, I flopped down beside her.
"Hmm... Interesting. Maybe I should cut my hair too?"
Waggling my eyebrows, I looked up at her. "Nope. You won't. I like your hair this way."
Double standards, I know, but I really loved her hair the way it was.
"Ahhh... I see... So you can cut your hair but I can't?"
I snickered lightly. "Yup!" I fumbled about my bags and found what I was looking for. "I got something for you."
She raised her brow slightly. "What?"
I took out a box and put it in her hand. "Open it." I urged her. She did.
"Wow." her eyes rounded as she looked at my gift to her.
"You like?" I asked, already knowing the answer.
"It's beautiful. It must have cost a lot!"
I shrugged. "I dunno, it's on my credit card bill. The silver wristwatch had a metal clasp. The watchface was round and not too big. It was very simply cut and its only adornments were pieces of intricately cut emeralds.
"It looks like the bracelet I gave you." she commented. I grinned. So she noticed.
"Yes." I answered simply.
"Thank you. I love it." ruffling my hair, she smirked.
"You've got hair all over your face, Kiara."
My brow rose. "Really? wanna... Help me get them off in the shower?" her brow mirrored mine. "Sure."
Standing in front of the full length mirror, I scrutinised myself. Taking a deep breath, I rearranged my hair, making sure that they fall right into place. It was my first time having dinner with the whole of Taylor's family and I wanted to make a good impression. Like it was still revocable, I scoffed at my reflection. It was apparent who approved and disapproved of me and my relationship with Taylor, but that didn't mean that I couldn't look my best. Trying to calm my rapidly thundering heart, I tried out some of the meditation methods Maria had thought me but to no avail. Light make up, not too thick. Wouldn't want them to think that I was some actress. I smoothed the new dress that I had purchased that day after going to the hairdresser's.
It was a simple sky blue dress that showed my curves but wasn't too revealing. The v-shaped collared neckline was high enough and it didn't reveal any cleavage. The three quartered length sleeves rested on my elbows. Flaring from my waist, the dress ended just below my knees in soft watery flows. A simple silver chain around my neck and the bracelet that Taylor had given me were the only accessories that adorned me. Spraying some perfume and twirling before the mirror a few times, I was ready.
"Wow." I heard a low voice behind me and turned around to see my lover giving me an appraising look. Blushing slightly, I took in Taylor's attire. Leaning on the wall behind me, her long wavy hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail, giving her a slightly rugged look as her sideburns stubbled down the side of her face, making her chiselled jawline more prominent. She had on a casual looking navy blue sleeveless cotton jersey that showed off her tanned forearms and a pair of black slacks. One of her well toned hand was stuck in her trousers pocket and the other held a stalk of white lily against her chest.
"You don't look too bad yourself." I supplemented as her brow rose. She pushed herself from the wall she had been leaning on and walked towards me, looking so much like a casanova bent on seducing a sweet innocent girl, except that the 'sweet innocent girl' in question here was a willing participant. As she approached easily, I caught her familiar scent and I felt like closing my eyes to float in it. Standing before me, she offered me the flower which I took with slightly shaking fingers. Ten years down the road and I knew that this feeling would still be there.
"Thank you." I sighed softly, leaning into the seductive carress on my cheek and tilting my head up to receive the falling lips.
"Shall we?" hooking my arm through hers, she paused to pick up her jacket and we left the hotel room.
The house was huge. It was almost like a mansion of sorts. The compact looking exterior did not prepare me for the extravagance that awaited me within. The floors were tiled with swirling marble and the rooms lighted with soft crimson lightings that made the room look awashed in a golden hue. In contrast to the soft lightings, sturdy wooden antique furniture that were varnished to perfection sat in the living area. They exuded a commanding feeling, much reminding me of Taylor's father. The dining table was this huge table that occupied almost the whole room. Its rounded surface was laden with so much food that I half thought the sturdy structure would give way under the weight.
"Pa. Ma." Taylor spotted her parents. A slight hush had fell over the small congregation the moment we had stepped into the establishment as everyone started speculating what would happen next. Taylor's mother was in her stiff posture as usual but I saw the slightly thawed look in her eyes as she looked at Taylor.
"Let's eat." Taylor's father said and everyone approached the table. The family waited for Taylor's dad to settle down and the meal started. Scooping me a little of everything that was within her reach, Taylor leaned over and whispered in my ear.
"Intimidating huh?" she commented.
Talk about understatement! "I feel like everyone's waiting to see an explosion! And I think they're rather disappointed when it didn't come."
Playing around with the food on my plate, I could feel everyone's eyes on me. Apart from the original members of the family that I have met, there was a sweet looking girl sitting beside Leonard and a young man beside Evelyn.
"Oh, there will be an explosion, and someone will come, just not now." Taylor quipped and I almost dropped my chopsticks. Throwing me an amused glance, she waited for the blush that would surely overtake my features.
"You. Are. Bad." I claimed as I poked her and she chuckled.
"So, sis, I believe you haven't met my fiance, Kathelin yet. Katheline's father owns a chain of automobile stores down in..." Leonard introduced his fiance to us. I couldn't help but think that he was more interested in the benefits of hooking with a rich man's daughter than anything else. Giving the sweet looking girl a smile, I settled back in my seat to speculate the family.
Eve, on the other hand, had an agonised expression on her face that she was trying to hide throughout the dinner. I could see that she couldn't stand the young man's brash and cocky attitude. Was Taylor the only person who dared to live and fight for her life in this family?
The cheese cake we brought were well appreciated. At least that came out well. We were lounging in the living area when I noticed Kathelin lost in her own thoughts and decided to talk to her.
"Hi." I said with a warm smile. She answered me with a meek smile.
"Um, so. When are you and Leonard getting married?" she looked a little uncomfortable.
"Um, next year I think. I... Are you and Taylor really, um, together?"
Surprised in her line of questioning, I recovered myself. "Yeah, we are. Do you have a problem with that?" I couldn't help it but I was feeling just a little defensive.
"Oh, no... No... I just, well I never really knew anyone who really settled down with, I mean, I have friends who are lesbians, but I always thought it was a phase that they went through."
"Well, it's not a 'phase' as you call it for us. We love each other very much and to hell with the social norms." she gave me a glance that I could only read as admiration and envy. Maybe there was more to this girl than I thought? Just then, a loud voice sounded from the back room.
"How can you give it to her?"
It was Leonard.
"I was the one who has taken care of you for the past six years that she left. I was the one who looked after the house, did your biding, and I'm the one who would be able to give you grandchildren! Not this degenerate here!"
Taylor's face was frozen by the hurtful words that her own brother had hurled ar her. "It's just a sword." she stated evenly.
"It's not just a sword. It's his favourite sword. He treasures it more than his life! This is so unfair! You walked out of our lives for so long and you just come back and take everything that's supposed to be mine!" the man shouted at his sister who happened to be my lover.
"Enough!" A gruff, powerful voice stopped the racket.
"The sword is mine, and I want Jiawen to have it."
Leonard quivered a little. "I hate you! You have always loved her more. No matter what I did, you still love her more. Why?"
So this was a case of sibling rivalry. Taylor realised that too and her mask broke. "Kor..."
His eyes flashed in anger. "Don't call me that! Why don't you just go back to where you came from?" Taylor's father coughed a little.
"That's enough. This is preposterous."
Taylor's head bowed a little. "Pa, I shall leave now. Take care of yourself."
The man nodded resignedly. "We can't even sit down and have a peaceful meal together." Doing something totally uncharacteristic of him, he gave Taylor a hug, one that Leonard looked on with jealousy. Taylor's father shook his head. "Maybe I have been wrong with certain things." his glance flickered to Leonard. "We need to have a long talk, my son."
"And I hope that you
Feel the same way too
Yes, I pray that you do love me too"
The shopping mall was rather empty now. It was almost 11 in the night but Taylor didn't want to return to our room.
She looked at me when I called her. "Yeah?" she tried to smile but it looked more like a grimace.
"You okay?" I tried again.
"Yeah, I am. Kinda. I... I never knew that Leonard hated me so much all these years because of this. Somehow, I don't know if I had played a part in his pain?"
Taking my time to formulate an answer, I let my hand rub along the length of her bare arm, ignoring some of the looks the scarce shoppers threw us. "Maybe you could talk to him? It may not help much, I mean, the only person who can really sort that out is your father. I believe he's trying to do it right now."
Nodding, Taylor finally smoothed out her frown. "Oh well. Whatever. At least I know that my daddy loves me and has forgiven me. There's nothing else I could hope for..." she trailed off.
I knew that it wasn't true. What would make her more happy was if the other members of her family approved of her. I had to admit, though, that life didn't always end in a good way that everyone wished for. Most of the time, it was rather disappointing.
"Where do you wanna go?" she asked, getting some of her chirpiness back now that she worked out that thought.
"Um... I'm kinda..." my stomach growled and she chortled.
"I was wondering... You were trying to eat so... daintily earlier on." giving her a friendly slap, I felt my face flush up.
"Didn't want them to know that you were actually an eating machine huh?"
More slaps and Taylor ran for her life down the escalator.
"Yummm..." I patted my tummy in satisfaction. Taylor brought us down to marina bay for barbeque steamboat. After an hour or two of feasting, I caught an amused gaze levelled at me.
"What?" I asked defiantly.
"Nothing." she shrugged.
"More?" she asked politely. Giving her a suspicious glance, I couldn't place what was bothering me a little.
"No, it's enough, thank you." I responded with the same amount of politeness.
"Ah. Good. Now it's your turn to satisfy my hunger."
What was that... My brows furrowed and then my eyes gleamed as realisation dawned upon me.
"Hm? You want me to get you more beef?" I asked innocently.
"Uh uh... You know what I want." she advanced upon me as I got up from my seat. Dodging from her grasp, I ran into the field that was beside the open aired area where we dined at mere minutes ago. Shrieking with laughter, I ran as fast as my legs could carry me. Then I realised that there was no one behind me anymore.
"Taylor?" I turned and squinted into the night.
"Tay- yikes!" I squealed as an arm snaked round my waist and dragged me down onto the grassy field. Her body pressing down on mine, Taylor looked at me with smiling eyes.
"Glad you could join me, Ms. Paterson."
This playful side of Taylor had been showing up more often and I found myself liking it very much. "Join you for what?" I inquired even though I didn't care.
"Star gazing, sky watching, clouds speculating." she replied and she lay down beside me, legs stretched out. We formed an inverted 'v' shape with our heads touching. I giggled.
"Clouds speculating?" it sounded so silly.
"Mm hmm... I used to do that with my brother when we were kids. After breakfast at the coffee shop, we would lie flat on the benches in the parks and pick out clouds that resembled something or the other." she said wistfully. Reaching out the same time she did, our hands interlocked between us.
Sitting in the airplane, I couldn't help but feel that what we left behind us in Singapore was so... Unresolved. Her brother's relationship with her was ambiguous, Taylor's mother didn't really say much about anything, everything was hanging precariously. But looking on the bright side, at least Taylor's father had come to accept Taylor. The rest would just take time. We never learnt about the nature of the talk between Leonard and his father, but he had seemed rather pacified when the family came to send us off that morning. Eve really adored her sister and she had made arrangements to come visit us soon, after her University course.
Oh. And the sword. Taylor's father made sure she took it. Leonard didn't say anything about it but I thought I caught a look of resignation in his features. Life just wasn't fair sometimes. In this case, I had to admit that I didn't disapprove of it. It was the least Taylor deserved after her 'exile' from her family. It was a huge burden off both our shoulders when the plane took off. Looking at the snoozing woman beside me, I concluded that no matter what happens to her, I would be right there with her. I settled my head in the familiar crook that was Taylor's shoulder and dozed off, my thoughts drifting to our upcoming trip to England and our anniversary.