~ Loose Ends ~
by Greek Warrior (Joan)
Disclaimer: They may look like two characters that don't belong to me, but they're not them. These are mine.
Sex: Yes, between two women. Yes, it will get explicit.
Abuse: Yes, it's in the form of verbal and whippings and not overly graphic except in one case.
All persons mentioned in this story, are fictitious, as are the towns, except for San Diego. But I'm sure you could figure that out on your own.
Thanks to Wendy for beta reading and to Sarah for her suggestions.
Comments welcome: XWPScribe@aol.com
The tall woman stood at the curb, staring at the two-story red brick house. Even though the window blinds had been opened, letting in bright sunshine that filled the house, it still had that empty aura surrounding it. If any inanimate object could have feelings, this unoccupied house certainly did. A sense of abandonment and sadness surrounded it. Or maybe she was sensing those feeling from herself.
With a deep sigh, Cody made her way up the front walk; pulling the key the lawyer had given her from her pocket, she unlocked the front door and entered the house she hadn't set foot in, in almost twenty years.
Her parents, well her mother and the man she had married when Cody was ten years old, had died in a car wreck a month ago. Cody had been working out of the country at the time and had only been notified last week. Not that it made any difference to her; she wouldn't have come to their funerals anyway.
When their lawyer, Mr. Adamson, finally contacted her, she was surprised to learn that the will had never been changed and that she was still her mother's beneficiary. 'That ought to have the old bastard turning over in his grave.' She had smiled at the thought when Mr. Adamson had informed her of her modest inheritance, which consisted of the house and a small amount of money left over from the dual life insurance policy after the funeral expenses and taxes.
Cody walked into the living room, her eyes slowly making their way around the room; trying to shrug off the demons from the past. But images and voices assaulted her. She wrapped her arms around herself and shivered.
"Damn, I really think I must be losing it." Cody rubbed her temples and tried to calm down. She removed the sheet that covered the sofa and sat down. "First things first. I need to call a realtor and get this house on the market. The sooner I do that, the sooner I can get outta here and go home."
Checking the list of realtors that Mr. Adamson's secretary had compiled for her, she read over her choices. Not surprisingly only four were listed. The town had grown some since she was last here, but not much. Picking the one whose name made her smile, she used her cell phone to call.
"Rainbow Reality, Mabel speaking. How may I assist you?"
"Hello, Mabel. I would like to speak with someone about selling a house."
"I'd be glad to help you. Let me ask you a few preliminary questions over the phone, then would you be able to meet my partner and myself at the property?"
"Sure, I'm actually here now, so it wouldn't be a problem."
"Great. Let's start with your name."
"Sorry, I should've given you that before. It's Cody Lawson."
"Okay, Ms Lawson. Are you the sole owner of the residence?"
"Yes, by way of inheritance. I have the deed, a copy of the will and a letter from the lawyer."
"Okay, give me the address and my partner and I will head over."
"It's 37 Woodland Forest. It's the sub-division located behind?"
"The Devout Baptist Church." Mabel finished for her, smiling at the idea of being able to handle a property in the mostly zealous neighborhood. She wondered if Ms Lawson had purposely call Rainbow Reality or if she was totally clueless. "I guess we'll find out."
"Excuse me?" Cody couldn't quite make out what the woman said.
"We'll be there in an hour, Ms Lawson." Mabel ended the call. She couldn't wait to tell Mildred that they might be handling the Jordan property.
Cody used the time to run to the little family owned store that was about a mile from the house. She'd decided to stay at the house, at least for the night and needed a few essentials.
She could remember walking to the store as a small child each week with her dad, when she got her allowance. She would walk slowly through the candy section, carefully debating on which treat was worthy of spending her hard earned money to buy. Then when she was a few years older and had discovered books, she would stop by the book store on her way to the library, checking to see if the book she was saving up for was still there.
She parked her bike by the entrance and removed her helmet, shaking out her long dark hair. 'Looks like the Bundy's still own the place.' She grabbed a cart and headed down the first isle; two pairs of eyes burning a hole in her back the entire time.
Fifteen minutes later, she was placing her groceries on the belt. "Not from around here are you?" Mr. Bundy asked, as he started to ring up her purchases.
"No." Came the one word answer. Cody was going to make him work to satisfy his curiosity. She remembered her dad saying the man was a worse gossip than the old women in the neighborhood.
A few more key punches on the ancient manual cash register. "You look a little familiar." Mrs. Bundy continued to bag the groceries, staring into blue eyes that she was sure she had seen before.
Cody knew the last time Mrs. Bundy had seen her; she had been a tall and very skinny teenager, whose hair was cut very short and who wore glasses.
"I'll need to see an ID, young lady, for that there beer." Mr. Bundy said.
Cody smiled. "Why Mr. Bundy, if you wanted to know my name, all you had to do was ask."
Mr. Bundy frowned at being found out and Cody reached for her wallet. He looked at her driver's license with his wife peeking over his shoulder. "Cody Lawson." He handed her license back, "Heard you went off to some fancy school."
"Yes. What do I owe you?"
"Totals $17.36." He took the twenty and gave her the change. "Sorry about your parents." He handed her the two sacks of groceries. "You weren't able to make it back for the funeral?" His tone was judgmental. He knew from whispered comments about the Jordan's, Cody never took her stepfather's name, that she had never been back home after she left for school. His holier-than-thou attitude faded as ice-blue eyes stared into him.
Cody bit back the acid response that was on the tip of her tongue. "No, I was out of the country at the time." She ignored his statement of sympathy. She could have used sympathy twenty years ago, but not now.
She could still feel their eyes as she placed her groceries in the hard-sided saddlebags on the Harley. With her helmet in place, she started the bike and welcomed the rumble and feel of power from the big machine, as it put her at ease.
Sitting on the front porch, drinking a beer, she sorted through the pile of mail that had been left at the house by Mr. Adamson; she came across a letter addressed to her and her eyebrows shot up in surprise. Before she had time to open it, she saw a car pull up in front of the house. Two gray haired women exited the vehicle and made their way towards the porch.
"You must be Ms Lawson. I'm Mabel and this is my partner Mildred."
Mabel was of average height, with Mildred being several inches taller. Where Mabel's hair was solid gray, Mildred's gray was sprinkled with a few strands of black. Mabel was what some people would call pleasing plump, while Mildred was fairly trim.
"Call me Cody, please." She descended the steps and held her hand out.
One look at Cody and both women knew that the younger woman had purposely called Rainbow Reality.
Cody knew these two were family. It wasn't just the firm handshake or the way they were dressed in kakis, tennis shoes, Mildred in a denim button-down shirt and Mabel in a t-shirt advertising the reality company. It was more the way their eyes moved over her, assessing her, then as if confirming that she was one of them, their lips curved into a sincere smile. Goddess knows, if she had to rely on her non-existent gaydar, she'd be in trouble, again.
"Pleased to meet you, Cody." Mildred said. "So, how did you know the old bigo?boy?" Mabel's elbow in her ribs changed her in mid-word.
Cody grinned. "The old bigot, though I prefer bastard, was my step-father. You two obviously knew him, and I'm guessing didn't get along."
"Yep, and had more than a few run-ins with him over the years." Mildred stated. "Though your mother was always a pleasant person."
"I had thought earlier that with me here again, he must be turning over in his grave. And now with the three of us here, I figure he must be on spin-cycle about now." Cody chuckled and the other two grinned.
"And as much as it would please me to handle this property, in all honesty you might find that one of the other agencies would have an easier time selling this place for you. Using us might limit the number of interested parties that would find this neighborhood to their liking." Mabel admitted. "It will also limit the number of? others? that would feel comfortable using our company."
"Why don't we go in and talk? I personally believe this neighborhood could do with a little shaking up." Cody led them inside to the living room where she'd earlier taken off all the dustcovers, then excused herself to make coffee.
After the papers had been signed, an appointment made for the appraiser to stop by and the 'For Sale' sign staked in the front yard, Cody returned to the mail and to the envelope addressed to her.
Cody opened the short blade on her Swiss Army knife and slit the envelope. Taking out the two sheets of paper she began to read.
Dear Fellow Graduate of Prattville High School,
You are cordially invited to join with your fellow classmates, class of 1983, at your 20-year reunion. Yes that's right, it's been 20 years since we put on that maroon cap and gown to parade across the stage to shake our beloved principal, Mr. Christopher's hand and get our diploma. I know we'd all like to see each other again. Now I know some of us have changed a little but there's no need to be embarrassed by it. Age can do that to some of us. Of course, I haven't changed one little bit.
So, come on and join the fun, especially those of you who have moved away. If you don't, you know your ears will be burning, because we'll be taking about you. Ha-ha, just a little joke.
Bridget (Huggins) Clark
President of the 'Class of 83' reunion committee
On the second sheet of paper was the schedule and dates for the reunion, not that she had any intention of going.
"Goddess, she's still a bitch," Cody remembered Bridget, the head cheerleader their senior year; she had been one of the 'in crowd' at the small school and one of Cody's tormentors. "So, she married that dipwad Fenton Clark." He had been the star running back on the football team. "They most certainly deserve each other." He had been another that made her high school experience less than stellar.
Cody remembered her junior year and how Bridget and her friends humiliated her. She was walking from the shower after gym class, with a towel wrapped around her. Before she made it to her locker, five giggling girls surrounded her. Bridget started the taunting, "Hey, Cody. How do we know you're not really a boy?"
"Yeah." Candy continued. "You're so tall and you don't have any boobs." More giggles.
Bridget again, "You've even got a boy's hair cut."
"Leave me alone." Cody tried to push past, but was grabbed pushed back and forth between them. On one of the shoves, Bridget grabbed Cody's towel and pulled it off her body.
"Well, look at that, she is a girl. Kinda." Bridget threw the towel on the floor and the giggling girls left Cody in tears.
They had made her life miserable during high school. Maybe she would go to the reunion to see how they turned out and let them see how she had turned out, since they had voted her 'most likely to never find anybody stupid enough to marry her and die an old maid'. Cody was sure Bridget had been the one to make-up those ridiculous insults.
"I'll call Tracy tonight and see what she thinks. Maybe I should invite her to go with me." Cody laughed. Tracy would certainly spice up the reunion; she was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed knockout who happened to star in adult movies. Her friend's normal hair color was light brown and her eyes were brown with golden flecks. Cody knew that Tracy used the disguise of dyed hair and colored contacts so when she quit making the films, she could return to normal and not be recognized.
Cody waited until early evening to call her friend and still got her voice mail. "Hi Trace, it's Cody. Give me a call when you can, I'll be?"
"Cody, I'm here. What's up?"
"Screening calls again?"
"Nuh uh, I fell asleep with the damn thing in my lap and it was set to vibrate. No wonder I was dreaming my vibrator had come to life and was doing all sorts of pleasant things to me." She laughed.
"You have sex just about every day, now you're dreaming about it, too? I think you need to seek professional help." Cody teased her.
"I can't help that work has been more like?well work than fun lately. We had two almost fights today, Lolitta complained that Mr. Stiff Shaft has been more like Mr. Wet Noodle?"
"Stop." Cody interrupted, although she had always gotten a kick out of some of the names the adult movie stars invented. "You know I don't want to here anything about the guys. On the other hand, if you want to discuss the women, especially that new blonde girl."
"Yeah, yeah, enough about work. How you doing? Everything going okay?"
"Yeah, so far. You'll never believe it, but I found two dykes to be my real estate agents. And, this is the best thing; I found a letter address to me with the mail the lawyer saved. It was for my high school reunion that happens to be going on next week."
"Are you?um?really thinking about going?" Tracy sat up, giving her friend her complete attention.
"At first I had no intention of going and started to toss the letter. Then I decided to talk to you and see what you thought." Cody downed the rest of her beer and stretched out on the couch. "I thought it might actually be a kind of closure, tie up a few loose ends. You know, face them as an adult. Back then I always felt like I was a kid and they were the adults, granted they were immature adults, but you know what I mean. I was barely a teenager and they were in their late teens."
"Yeah, I know what you mean. And I think you're right about facing most of them. But what about facing Amanda?" Tracy winced, expecting an explosion.
"I'm here." Another silence. "She may not even live here anymore."
"Maybe not, but that doesn't mean she won't come back for it. Why don't you see if her parents still live there and call them, see if she plans on going?"
"They do, I checked in the phone book, but didn't have enough guts to call." Cody confessed.
"Oh honey, I hate that you're having such a hard time. I wish I could help."
"You know, I thought about asking you to go with me, but then I remember the sole reason for going would be to show them that I turned out okay, but if you went, nobody would bother to pay any attention to me." Cody laughed.
"You know that's not true." Tracy knew her friend's habit of putting herself down was just a survival mechanism, but she hated to hear Cody doing it. "I can't believe I'm going to confess this to you, but I believe you could use an ego pick-me-up. I call you 3B's behind your back."
Cody pulled the phone away from her ear and gave it a strange look. "3B's? It makes me sound like I've got three boobs or something. What the hell does it mean?"
Tracy laughed. "It stands for beauty, brains and brawn. Although after the three boobs comment, I might have to rethink the brains part."
"Every funny." Cody laughed, then became serious. "Do you really think of me like that?"
Tracy could hear the young insecure girl that was sometimes still part of Cody come through, which was another thing that was left over after her troubled early teens. "Yes my friend, I really do." 'Maybe I will attend this reunion, just to kick a few assholes.' Tracy thought. She hadn't heard this much insecurity from her friend in many years.
The long, mentally and physically exhausting day finally caught up with Cody and she fell asleep on the couch.
Cody was sitting in the back row of class slumped down in her desk, trying to avoid Mrs. Hall calling on her. It wasn't that she didn't know the answer, she did, but being smart was one of the reasons she was picked on. Another was the fact that she was taller than most everyone else and terribly skinny, plus she wore glasses. She'd heard all the names, beanpole, scarecrow, four eyes and the others that adolescents used to torment their peers with. It also didn't help that she was a senior in high school at 14, not that she told the others her age; they would've just picked on her for that, too. She just kept telling herself this was the last year she had to put up with them.
Cody watched as a small blonde girl entered with Principal Christopher. She held her books clutched against her chest and stared down at her feet.
"Class," Mrs. Hall said after the principal had left, "this is Amanda Norris and she's a new student here. Let's all say hello and make sure we help her until she gets settled in." Most of the class murmured hellos on cue. "Amanda, you can take the empty seat next to Cody on the back row."
"Um, hi." Amanda slyly said as she slid into the chair.
Cody pushed her glasses back up her nose with her finger and looked toward the small girl. "Hello, A?Amanda." Cody stuttered as stared into eyes the color of grass after a spring rain.
Later that day, Cody was sitting in the cafeteria eating lunch alone, as usual, when Amanda shyly asked to join her. She couldn't believe the cute girl wanted to spend her lunch period with her. Cody smiled and nodded her head.
Over the next week, the two girls spent most of their free time together. Cody helped Amanda with her schoolwork and Amanda would tell Cody about the places she had lived before moving back to her mother's hometown.
Cody felt happier than she had been in a long time. The others in school still picked on her, but it didn't seem to bother her as much as it did before Amanda.
"Guess what?" Amanda ran up to her new friend after school. "Even though the sign-up deadline has past, they're gonna let me tryout for cheerleader. Isn't that great?"
Cody's smile turned to a frown. "Uh?yeah, I guess." She hung her head and started walking away.
"Hey, Cody, wait up. What's wrong? I thought you'd be happy for me." Amanda caught-up with her friend.
Cody stared at the ground and shrugged her shoulders. "Nothing."
"Come on, tell me." She put her hand on Cody's arm to get her attention. "Please."
Cody knew her friend didn't understand. "I just?you?" She started and stopped. "All those?people are the ones that hate me and make fun of me. And now you're gonna be one of them and won't be my friend anymore."
"You'll still be my friend and we'll still do stuff together, only now they'll also be my friends. This way they'll get to know you better and be your friends, too. Cody, you said yourself that your parents wouldn't let you go to the movies or the mall with me and I really miss having someone that I can do that with." Amanda explained. "It'll work out, Cody, you'll see."
"Amanda." Cody jerked awake and sat up. "Damn, haven't had a dream about her in years. I guess its being back here that started them again." She rubbed her face and checked the time on her watch, three o'clock. "Blah, I refuse to get up this early." Cody grabbed a pillow and a light blanket out of the linen closet, removed her boots, jeans and bra, then settled back on the couch to see if she could sleep at least a few more hours. Within minutes, she was asleep again, this time without dreams.
Cody was just starting to stir when the doorbell rang and rang and rang. "Keep your shirt on, I'm coming." She hopped around trying to put her pants on and get to the door at the same time.
She unlocked the deadbolt and yanked the door open. "What is your problem?" She growled at the woman standing on the porch.
"That is my problem." The woman was pointing over her shoulder in the general direction of the 'For Sale' sign. "I won't stand for it." She stamped her pink tennis shoed foot, along with her designer-clad pink jogging suited leg.
"Won't stand for what? The house being sold, a sign in the front yard, or maybe you're referring to the weeds that are starting to grow from the cracks in the sidewalk? You gotta help me out here, its way too early in the morning to play guessing games, especially since I have had my coffee yet." Cody now remembered her as Mrs. Eldon, the snooty next-door neighbor.
"That?that company is what I'm talking about. They're not good God-fearing, church-going people and they shouldn't be allowed in this town, much less this neighborhood."
"In the first place, this is my house to sell, not yours, so I'll get whomever I want to sell it. In the second place, I'm not one of 'your' type of God-fearing church-going people either, so I don't give a rats-ass. The Goddess and I get along just fine. So go home and mind your own business." Cody slammed the door in her face.
That afternoon, Mabel called to let Cody know that the listing would be in the next day's paper and that they had, surprisingly, had two inquires about the house from people that had seen the sign. Cody agreed to make herself scarce tomorrow around lunchtime, so they could show the place. She also let Mabel know that her appraiser had been by late that morning and said he would stop by the office early tomorrow.
The day was overcast and a cool breeze blew. Cody was again sitting on the porch, this time in the swing that she remembered her real dad putting up when she was five or six.
Hearing footsteps coming up the walk, she stopped her momentum and watched a young couple mount the steps and knock on the door. "If you've come to complain like Mrs. Eldon, don't waste your breath."
Slightly startled, the man and woman looked to their left, towards the sound of the voice. "No." The man said. "I mean no, we've not come to cause trouble. Just the opposite actually."
The woman picked up. "My husband, Isaac," she glanced at the man beside her, "saw Mrs. Eldon over here this morning when he was leaving for work and thought she might be giving you a hard time. We just wanted you to know that not everybody feels that way about Mabel and Mildred."
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions." She stood and moved towards the couple.
"It's alright." Isaac said. "Nine times out of ten, you would've been right."
"I'm Cody Lawson." She shook Isaac's hand.
"Cody? Is it really you?" The young woman hugged a surprised Cody. "It's me, Beth Levy, well Beth Ingram last time you saw me. I'm sorry it took a sad occasion for us to meet again." Beth knew Cody and her parents were estranged and she wasn't sure how to offer her sympathy or even if Cody wanted it.
Cody did remember Beth, who as a little girl, followed an older Cody around when she could. The Ingram's had lived across the street. "Yeah, me too. Got rid of your pigtails I see." Cody grinned. Remembering that she said Isaac had seen Mrs. Eldon that morning, she asked, "Are you living around here?"
"We bought my folks place when they decided to move into a garden home and not have to worry about yard work." Beth explained. "I know they'd love to see you again."
"I don't know how long I'm going to be here. If you'd say hello to them for me, I'd appreciate it. Would you like to come in for awhile?"
"Actually we can't." Isaac said. "We're meeting my sister and her husband for dinner tonight. We just wanted you to know that the old lady doesn't speak for the entire neighborhood."
"Thanks for stopping by and letting me know." Cody said.
"Hey, Cody." Beth stopped at the bottom of the porch steps. "I just wanted you to know that growing up?well you were my hero." She smiled at the flabbergasted look on the older woman's face. "You showed me that it was okay to be smart and to want to read books. I now teach literature at the junior college and I love it. So, I just wanted to say thanks."
To say that Cody had been speechless was an understatement. She had been sitting and staring into space for the past hour. She hadn't even remembered coming in from outside, yet she found herself sitting in the living room.
'Goddess.' She thought. 'What would knowing that done for me twenty years ago?' She ran different scenarios through her head. 'Probably better for Beth that I didn't know. I more-than-likely would've told her she was crazy for wanting to be like me.' She thought some more, as she absently watched the shadows growing on the wall in front of her, from the setting sun. 'It's really not about me at all, is it? It's about Beth. So get your head outta your ass, Cody.' She replaced the negative thoughts with positive ones. 'It's about Beth having someone who she thought of as a good example that maybe helped her become something she loves.' "I was a hero." Cody stated aloud and smiled. "Me; not a TV character or a sports figure. Me; a tall skinny kid that read books." Her smile grew bigger. "Damn that makes me feel good."
Cody decided to sleep in the guest room, which at one time had been her room, instead of on the couch. She finished making the bed and crawled in between the sheets. Having not slept well the night before, she was quickly asleep.
Cody was eleven and she'd just skipped another grade in school. Her mother and the man she had married the year before were arguing.
"I don't know why you let them move her to a higher grade." Floyd complained.
"They said Cody would just get bored if she wasn't challenged, and wouldn't learn anything." Her mother answered.
"She doesn't need to learn too much. No man will have her if she's smarter than him. And what's she gonna do after high school? She'll be too young to marry when she graduates."
"You know she wants to go to college, Floyd."
"Waste of money. No need to get a degree if she's gonna be quitting her job once she gets pregnant." Her stepfather argued. "She needs to be around normal kids, get outside, ride bikes. The boys will never notice her if she keeps her nose stuck in a book."
"I know she needs to make friends." Her mother conceded. "I'll just have to encourage her. Maybe a few activities that the church is sponsoring would help." Brenda suggested.
"Maybe. But this studying and reading all the time has to stop. She should do more around the house." Floyd added.
It started the next morning when Floyd grabbed the book Cody was reading from her hands as she walked by him. He slammed the book closed and whacked her on the butt with it. "Get in there and help your mother make breakfast. It's past time you learned some women's work."
After several months of trying her best around the house and especially in the kitchen, Cody finally realized nothing she did would be acceptable, so she stopped trying. If her stepfather thought her scrambled eggs were too runny, she'd show him what runny really looked like.
Her mother had left early that Saturday morning to help collect donations for the church auction and Cody was in charge of meals when she wasn't there. Hearing her stepfather come in the kitchen and sit down at the table reading the newspaper while waiting on his breakfast, Cody took two eggs, broke them over the skillet, sloshed them around for a few seconds, then poured them onto Floyd's plate.
It took maybe two seconds for Cody to realize she'd probably made a major mistake. Floyd turned almost purple with anger. He grabbed her arm, spun her around and whipped her hard enough to leave handprints. She spent the rest of the day hiding in her room.
What had hurt Cody the most, was not the fact that it was her first spanking ever, it was that her mother took Floyd's side, even though she had known how hard Cody had tried and that nothing would ever be good enough for him, and that he had used every opportunity to degrade her.
The only thing that saved Cody over the next two years was that Floyd was gone for longer and longer periods of time. He worked as a salesman for a big fertilizer and pesticide company, and when the company cut back on staff, he had more territory to cover.
Even when he'd be gone a week at a time, things between Cody and her mother were never the same again. Over the two year period the spankings had gotten more frequent and sometimes more severe. And each time her mother had taken his side. Cody gradually withdrew more and more.
It became harder and harder to hide the evidence of her whippings. Even when Cody's gym teacher questioned her about the marks on her butt and a couple on her back where the belt had landed a few times, Cody at first deigned there was a problem. Even when Cody had finally broken down and told her about her stepfather's whippings and the teacher had confronted the man, it hadn't done any good. The teacher had then taken it to the principle and school board, but was told to mind her own business, that the parents in Prattville could spank their kids as they saw fit. Not like in other places where the little heathens could run crying to the authorities.
Cody woke up and sat up in bed. She wasn't quiet as startled as yesterday morning and at least the sun was starting to come up. She got up and threw on a t-shirt and pair of shorts, then headed for the kitchen. She planned her morning, a cup of coffee, a run down by the lake and more coffee. Yep, Tracy was right, she was definitely a coffee junkie.
Cody decided that she might as well take a look around town since she had to vacate the house. The town had grown, probably doubled since she was last here. "Well hot damn." Cody exclaimed as the turned the corner, heading toward the junior college. "There's a Starbucks here." 'Maybe later.' She thought when her stomach sloshed and reminded her of all the coffee she'd drunk earlier.
After riding around a while longer, she turned her bike in the direction of the mall, thinking she'd buy a paper and get some lunch.
After placing her order at the generic hot dog and burger place, she sat down at one of the plastic tables, intending to see what Mable and Mildred had to say about the house. Before her eyes found the ad, they found a hauntingly familiar profile. She watched the blonde as she talked to a woman Cody recognized as Mrs. Norris. Then, as if sensing Cody's stare, the blonde head started to turn in her direction. Cody was thankful that enough of her brain cells were still functioning to enable her hide behind the newspaper before Amanda could see her.
'Well, she's either here for the reunion or?' There was another possibility she hadn't wanted to think about. 'Or she's married, which is why I couldn't find her in the phonebook.' Cody peeked out from her hiding place to find the two women gone. She knew why the fact that Amanda might be married bothered her so, but she refused to voice it, even to herself.
Cody ate her burger in silent contemplation. 'Did Amanda sense her staring, or did she just happen to turn her head this way? And if she did feel my eyes on her, was it me she felt or would she have felt anyone's stare? And I'm a grown woman, why in the hell did I hide from her?' Not having the answers to any of her questions, Cody headed for the house to call Tracy, her voice of reason when she was confused and uncertain.
"So, that's what happened." Cody heard traffic noises in the background. "Where are you?"
"Outside the studio. We were having our unwrap party."
Cody had shrugged at the logic when Tracy had explained to her that instead of wrap parties at the end of filming, they had unwrap parties since by the end of filming, nobody in the cast had on a stitch of clothes. "Shit, sorry."
"Don't worry about it. Why'd you hide from her?"
"I don't know? I was hoping you'd tell me." Silence from her friend, which meant she was waiting for Cody to think it out. A deep sigh from Cody, "Maybe it caught me off guard. I wasn't prepared to see her."
"So if she knocked on the door now, you'd be okay?"
"Yes, no, hell, I don't know." Cody stopped pacing and collapsed onto the couch.
"Cody, for god sakes, you're 34 years old, you graduated from MIT and Vanderbilt University. You've been interviewed for TV, and you've got three college degrees?"
"Four." Cody interrupted.
"Four, I've got four degrees. So what's your point?"
"My point is, you're an accomplished woman whose opinion and expertise has been sought by heads of corporations and governments and you're letting a few people from Bumfuck High School scare you."
Cody laughed. "I can always count on you to put things in prospective. I really should be mad at her about today. I was so out of sorts about seeing her again, I completely forgot about stopping at Starbucks on the way back to the house."
"Ohmygod, you forgot Starbucks? Does this mean you're gonna have to turn in your coffee addicts membership card?"
"Keep it up, funny girl, and I'll tell all your co-stars that you're really an accountant." They both laughed at one another. "I'll let you get back to your party. Thanks, Tracy."
"Anytime. Oh, a certain blonde was asking me if tall, dark and butch was coming. I told her, only if you were using your hand. Bye."
Cody shook her head and grinned. She'd get her back for that later.
Cody used the time before dinner to go through some of the stuff at the house, to see if anything of hers remained. She'd found an invitation for dinner from Beth, shoved under the door earlier and had accepted.
She headed out to the garage where she had seen several boxes labeled in her mother's handwriting. Most of them just had dates. She opened the one, labeled 1984-86. What she found confused her, to say the least. She pulled out copies of her course work from MIT and an article the college paper did on Cody being one of the youngest students to attend the university. There was even a photo taken during her graduation. She opened the box labeled 1987-89 next. It contained the same type of things, except it was from Vanderbilt University. There was even a candid shot of her and Tracy sitting together on the edge of the quad.
Cody remembered her first year at the university. She had just turned 18, had finally filled out, let her hair grow and had been able to lose the glasses after having laser surgery. It had also been the first year she had acted on her feelings for girls. She and Tracy had been lovers until they found out they made better friends. "It was a wonder I got any studying done." She grinned.
Cody opened the next box labeled 1990-; there was no ending date. This box contained articles from mostly scientific and technical publications about her or her work. It also contained a couple of VHS tapes of programs Cody had been interviewed for. "Oh mom, why didn't you let me know I meant something to you?" She repacked the boxes, she'd ship them home before she left. But now she needed to get ready for dinner with Beth and Isaac.
Later that night, Cody made the decision to attend the reunion. She would face the people from her past, not to show them anything, but to show herself that she had left the past behind and that her memories couldn't hurt her anymore. This time when she left this town, everything bad that had happened to her would stay here, where it belonged. She wasn't going to carry it around with her anymore.
And one of those people she would have to face would be Amanda.
Heading to bed, she knew she'd be dreaming again, she had been every night since returning to the house. She began to think of them as her sub-conscious cleaning house, and wondered what it would be tonight.
Cody's senior year seem to pass rather quickly, Floyd being gone more than being home had helped, so had spending time with Amanda. Her friend had made cheerleader and first the football and then basketball season took a lot of the blonde's time. Cody rarely turned down the chance to spend time with her friend, even if it meant spending time with Amanda's other friends.
Granted the others were bothering her less after Amanda started including Cody in some of their after school activities. But Cody still didn't like them, especially Bridget and her boyfriend Fenton.
Cody cherished the time she and Amanda spent together, although she had become increasingly nervous around the blonde. Just the other day when Amanda had put her hand on Cody's arm, her heart rate increased and goosebumps ran up and down her arm. Then when Amanda smiled at her, Cody blushed. And Cody wasn't a blusher. She could count on one hand the number of times she had blushed in her 14 years. Now it seems like all the girl had to do, was walk into Cody's line of sight and she could feel herself turn red. Sometimes all she had to do was think about the blonde to cause it.
Cody was walking home from school when a car pulled up beside her. "You want a ride?"
"Sure." Cody didn't mind walking; in fact, she preferred it. But she liked being with Amanda even more.
"So, has anybody asked you to the prom?" The blonde glanced in her passenger's direction as she pulled up to the four-way stop.
"Nope. Are you going with anyone?" Cody knew Amanda had dated off and on, but never anybody for very long.
"Hank asked me, but I haven't said yes. And its two weeks away, there's still time for somebody to ask you."
"Doesn't matter, I wouldn't go anyway."
"Why not? It'll be fun. A little music, a little dancing?spiked punch. The bets on who'll loose their virginity that night." Amanda laughed. "Although I don't think virginity is a word that applies to very many people at school."
There were several things Cody wanted to say. 'I'd go if you'd go with me.' Was her first thought. Second was, 'Have you done it?' Though she wasn't sure why, but she didn't really want the answer to that question. What she said was, "I can't dance."
"Is that all?" Amanda pulled into Cody's driveway. "Don't worry about it, I'll teach you." She patted Cody's leg. "Tomorrows Saturday, I'll pick you up after lunch and we'll go back to my house. I've got plenty of old records we can use."
That night her mother and Floyd got into another disagreement over Cody. "I don't think she should be allowed to go to the prom, Floyd. She's only 14. I don't think it's proper for her to be alone with a 17 or 18 year old boy."
"Brenda, she won't be alone. And besides, I plan on putting the fear of God into her and whoever her date is. Neither one of them will be thinking about any kind of hanky-panky. I guarantee it."
"Well, I guess so then. You know Reverend Booth's son is a junior this year; he's only 16. I wonder if he has a girlfriend."
Fortunately for Cody, Floyd left the next morning. She was so nervous about dancing with Amanda that she couldn't do anything right.
"Cody, what's gotten into you today? That's the second time you've let the potato's boil over." Her mother pulled the pan off the eye. "I feel sorry for Amanda, the way you're paying attention today, you'll probably step on her toes and break them."
'Ugh, did she have to say that? She probably just jinxed me.' Cody thought. 'What if I do? Maybe I can convince her to let me watch today. But then I wouldn't be able to be close to her. But if I do dance with her I'll probably make a complete and total fool of myself.'
"Cody?" Her mother called. "Amanda's here. Didn't you hear her honk?"
"No, I?I'll be back later." She yelled as she ran out of the house.
The lessons continued through the week with Cody not making much progress. During the slow dances, Cody was still stumbling over her own feet and occasionally over her partners too.
"I think I should just give up." Cody said. It was Saturday, one week since they had started.
"You're here now. Let's try again today, then if you don't do any better and still want to quit, I won't force you to continue. Okay?" The dance instructor coaxed.
"I don't know, Amanda. I mean I look like a deranged puppet when I dance to the fast stuff."
"That's silly, you do not look like a deranged puppet. A limp noodle maybe, but not a deranged puppet." Amanda laughed, but quickly stopped when she saw the sad expression. "Cody, I'm sorry, I was just kidding."
"No, I'm sorry. I'm a little sensitive sometimes." Cody explained. 'I'm sensitive around Amanda. I don't want her to think of me as a stupid little kid.' She realized that was why she had never told Amanda her age or about Floyd's spankings.
"Let's try a slow song, okay?" Amanda started the music and held out her hand.
"Are you sure your toes are up for it?" Cody grinned.
"Yes, I'm sure." Amanda led Cody to the center of the family room. "You remember what we talked about, how to know which way to go and stuff?" Cody nodded. "Okay, here we go."
Cody wasn't sure what made this time different from all the rest, but she didn't stumble or trip or step on Amanda's toes once. She was able to dance the entire song like she had been doing it for years.
"You did it." Amanda squealed the second the music faded away. She threw her arms around Cody's neck and jumped up and down. "I'm so proud of you."
Cody was so excited; she couldn't believe she'd done it. She wrapped her arms tightly around her friend and held her close. It was then that she noticed another kind of excitement. She felt a tingling sensation running through her body each time Amanda's body brushed against hers.
The next few minutes were a total blur for Cody. One minute she was standing there happier than she ever remembered being; the next she found her lips covering Amanda's.
"Cody, stop." Amanda pushed her away. "I don't?we can't."
Even though Cody backed away, her hand reached out to Amanda. "I?" She saw Amanda's arms and hands held out between them, to keep her away; to keep her from getting to close. "I'm sorry." Cody turned and ran up the stairs and out of the house.
The next day Cody hid in her room, crying and hating herself for ruining her friendship with Amanda. Monday at school, Cody avoided Amanda, too embarrassed to face her and too afraid of what the blonde might say to her.
If she could make it through this week, Cody thought she'd be okay. Friday night was the prom, she told her mother she wasn't going. That she couldn't learn to dance and she wasn't going to go and just sit there like an idiot with everyone making fun of her. Next week was finals, which meant partial days. It also meant everybody would be concentrating on his or her own problems and too busy to worry about her, she hoped.
Two more weeks and she'd never have to see Amanda again. But every time she thought of never seeing the blonde again, she'd get a lump in her throat and tears in her eyes. Amanda had been her first real friend since she had started skipping grades. Before then, she had just felt out of place with the older kids.
Wednesday was the day her world as she knew it, started to crumble. She was sitting by herself at lunch, something she hadn't had to do very much of lately, when she overheard the talk at the next table where Fenton and a few of his buddies sat.
"So, Red, you gonna finally pop Rita's cherry Friday night?" There was laughter from everyone but Red.
"What about you, Fenton, you gonna get any?" Red wanted the attention on someone else. He had always lied to make his friends think he and Rita had 'done it', but they never believed him.
"Oh yeah, I got us a motel room down at the Stardust. No more screwing in the back seat or on the ground." He replied.
"So who else is gonna give it up?" Hank wondered.
"Don't know. But I know who want be, at least not to a guy." Fenton smirked.
"What? Man, what are talking about?" Bobby asked.
Fenton enjoyed knowing something his buddies didn't. "I know for a fact that Cody?tried to take advantage of Amanda. If you know what I mean."
"Huh?" Bobby had never been accused of being overly smart.
"How?" Red asked.
"It seems Amanda was trying to teach her how to dance, like anybody would actually ask her to the prom."
Fenton was interrupted by Bobby, "Hey Amanda's cute, I'd go with her."
"Not Amanda, you dumbass." Fenton slapped him upside the head. "Cody."
"Ow." Bobby rubbed the back of his head.
"Like I was saying, they were dancing and suddenly Cody kisses her flat on the mouth and then?" Fenton paused.
"Then what?" Red questioned.
"Yeah, what happened next?" Hank eagerly asked.
"Then?she tried to cop a feel." Fenton finished dramatically.
"Jesus, what'd Amanda do?" Bobby questioned.
"I bet she slapped her. Rita slapped me once." Red mumbled.
"Nah, she was so disgusted she did know what to do, so she just pushed her away." Fenton stated. "Hey, watch this." He walked over to the table where Cody was.
She couldn't believe Amanda had not only told about the kiss but also lied about her trying to touch her. Cody was so humiliated, she wanted to run away but she didn't want to draw their attention to herself, so she sat frozen in place, wishing the floor would swallow her. When Fenton sat down next to her, she stiffened even more.
"So Cody, I hear you like girls."
She could hear the snickers from the next table.
"Why don't we all go out behind the bleachers and we'll show you what you're missing." He grabbed her hand forced it into his crotch. "I bet the four of us could change your mind." He moved her hand over his cock.
Cody felt it growing harder, she felt nauseated and scared, which propelled her to her feet and out of the cafeteria. She heard Fenton's parting comment; "She must really want it, if she's in that much of a hurry." Then the other's laughing.
She didn't go to the rest of her classes that day, but hid at the library. It was the first time all year that she had missed school, but she didn't care. Cody had no intention of setting foot anywhere near the school building the rest of the week. Amanda had betrayed her and she wasn't sure how she would ever face anybody again. She knew the story would be all over school by the end of the day.
She had to take her finals next week; her 5.0 grade average was at stake. She intended to go to college and planned on being offered full scholarships to some of the best schools in the country. The high schools college coordinator had the applications ready except for her senior grade point average. She was determined that no one would take this chance away from her. She was going to get away from this town, these people and her stepfather.
Cody spent Thursday and Friday back at the library, telling the librarian Miss Whitaker that she was doing special research for finals, so she wouldn't call the school or Cody's mother.
She walked home Friday afternoon, relieved that she could use the excuse of studying for finals to spend the weekend locked in her room. Two houses away, she saw Floyd's car in the driveway. He was supposed to have already left. "He's just running late, he'll be leaving before long." She told herself as she nervously chewed on her bottom lip.
Walking into the house, she was grabbed and forcefully dragged into the living room. "Where were you today?" He still held her by her upper arm.
"Don't lie to me, little girl. The school called earlier wondering if you were sick since you missed yesterday and today. Your mothers out now, trying to find you." He held both her arms now and shook her.
Even though Cody was almost as tall as he was, the man out weighed her by well over a hundred pounds, and she had never seen him this mad. "I'm not?lying. It must be a mix up." At least he had stopped shaking her.
He ignored her explanation. "I ran into Coach Clark today."
That was Fenton's father, who coached at the high school. 'Oh shit, that meant he had heard the talk going around.' Cody was really scared now.
"He told me he was sorry that my stepdaughter turned out to be one of those queers."
The slap was sudden and unexpected. He had never done that before. Cody fell back on the couch and tasted blood from her split lip.
"You will not be one of those perverts, I'll beat it outta you first." He started towards her. "You'll not set foot out of this house until you learn how to be a wife. Then I'll find someone for you to marry. So you can just forget about going to college, little girl."
As he started to unbuckle his belt, Cody ran. She wasn't sure if it was another beating she was running from or the thought of him trying to take away her dreams.
Heading for the stairs, she intended to barricade herself in her room until her mother got home. Hoping just this once, she would take Cody's side.
She knew he had been caught off guard by her running, but she only had a couple of steps on him, and she could sense him behind her.
Halfway up the stairs, she tripped and before she could regain her footing, felt his fingers close around her ankle. "Don't you run from me."
Cody kicked back with her other foot and heard a grunt when it made contact. Feeling his grip loosen, she half crawled, half ran the rest of the way into her room.
She slammed and locked the door, but she knew the flimsy bolt wouldn't keep him out. She wildly looked for something she could barricade the door with. She lunged for her wooden desk chair, it wasn't on rollers and she could wedge it under the knob.
Just before she got the chair in position, the door flew open, hitting Cody, knocking her backwards and to the floor.
He stood over her, screaming at her. She was worthless. She had ruined her mother's life and his with her perverted actions. The town would pity them because of her. Pulling his belt from his pants, he straddled her legs. "It must be the devil that's in you, girl, and I intend to beat it outta you."
Cody barely got her arms up in front of her face before the blows started. For some reason Cody remember overhearing a girl at school taking about kneeing a boy 'down there' and that it made him stop whatever he had been doing. She didn't have much leverage, but she kicked up with her foot. It produced the desired results; he dropped the belt and bent over grabbing himself.
She scrambled away from him and stood up on her wobbly legs. Holding her injured arms close to her chest, she decided that getting out of the house was probably a good idea.
Cody had barely made it through her room doorway when he grabbed the back of her shirt. "No, let me go." She cried and tired to pull away, but didn't have the strength. When he jerked her back towards him, she felt her head connect with his face. Dizzily she stumbled forward, his hand no longer holding her back.
She had made it to the stairs when she heard him behind her once again. "You're gonna pay for that." She turned at his voice and saw a small trickle of blood running from his nose before he wiped it away.
Cody's mind yelled at her to run, and she yelled in pain when he grabbed her injured arms. A tug of war ensued until the slamming of the kitchen door caused a momentary lull.
They both knew her mother had returned. Cody used all her remaining strength to pull away from him. But when he released her, Cody was too dizzy to stand on her own. Off balance, she toppled over and down the stairs. She didn't hear her mother's scream; the blackness had already surrounded her.
Cody's memories faded away slowly. She had survived and maybe she had become a stronger person because of what she had gone through. It had taught her that she needed more than mental smarts to get through life. And thanks to her guardian at MIT and her maturing body, Cody had learned to defend herself.
Contrary to Mabel's prediction, one of the first couples to see the house had made an offer and the loan approved. Cody accepted. The next week was spent sorting through the house's contents. Some things like clothes and linens would be given away. Some of the furnishings she had sold to the used furniture store and the rest she had promised to the young couple.
Cody kept some of the old pictures of her mother. She hadn't taken any when she'd left town for college; she hadn't wanted any. It had been almost twenty years since she had seen her mother's face, other than in her memories.
She sat staring at one now and made the decision to go by the cemetery before she left town. She felt like it would close another chapter in her life that had been left painfully open.
It was the day of the reunion and she felt herself chickening out. "I'd like to use the phone a friend lifeline, Regis." Cody picked up her phone and called Tracy.
"Cluck?cluck-cluck." Tracy had been expecting her friend's call.
"Okay, so I'm a chicken." Cody admitted. "Help."
"Get your butt out that door and on that bike, missy. You are going to that reunion with your head held high. You're going to look at those putrid little pip-squeaks and laugh at them and their pathetic little lives."
"Whoa, what's got you so wound up?" Cody managed to get in when Tracy paused to take a breath.
"That was a little over the top, wasn't it."
"Yeah, just a bit. But I got the message."
"Oh good. Glad to know those acting classes finally paid off. Heaven knows I never need them for the films."
"Thanks, Trace. I don't know what I'd do without you." Cody said sincerely.
"Yeah, well, you've done the same for me, bud. Now go kick some butt."
The afternoon get-together was being held by the lake, no doubt it was due to the fact beer was a no-no on school grounds.
Cody parked her bike at the far end of the graveled area. She weaved her way through the cars, towards the incoherent ramblings that only a multitude of disjointed conversations could produce, Cody's entrance into the area wasn't immediately noticed and she used the time to observe.
She spotted Fenton and his group of friends; they were the same ones he had in school. She recognized, Red and Bobby, she didn't see Hank. Fenton and Bobby looked their age and all but Red had beer guts in various stages of development. Next, she spotted Bridget, 'Boy, she must be really sweating under all that make-up.' She was surrounded by what Cody thought must be her old cheerleading squad. 'But where is?there she is standing behind Bridget and just out of the group.'
Seeing a few heads start to turn her way, Cody decided it was time to make her entrance. She walked past Fenton and his group, hearing their not so whispered comments.
"Who is that?"
"It couldn't be anyone we went to school with, I'd remember a knock-out like her."
"Has to be somebody's wife."
They followed behind her and as she made her way past Bridget and her friends, they stopped to join the women. "Fenton, honey, do you know who that is?"
"It's Cody." Amanda stated. Cody was surprised that she would recognize her.
"Cody? You can't mean that tall skinny beanpole." Bridget stated.
"You're crazy, no one can change that much." Rita said and there were mummers of agreement.
Cody had selected a soda and turned towards the group. Walking slowly up to them, she stopped in front of Bridget and smiled. "Hello, Bridget. My you sure haven't aged?well." The smiled that had started to appear on the ex-cheerleaders face turned into a frown. 'Oh bad Cody, bad, bad Cody, that was so petty. But it was so much fun.' Cody smiled. "Still think I look like a boy?" She walked away without waiting for an answer. 'Maybe a little revenge wasn't so bad.'
Cody spent a little while taking to some of her old teachers. One, Ms McIntyre, the gym teacher that had tried to help her, told her she had left Prattville the year after Cody and had only come back hoping to see Cody at the reunion.
Since there had been no final in gym class, the teacher had been unaware of Cody's absence and her injuries until the police had talked to her. The teacher had seen Cody once in the hospital, but had never been told where Cody had gone once she left.
"I spent the first several years away from here, trying to forget this place existed." Cody admitted.
"That's understandable." She stopped walking and turned to face her former student. "I've seen you several times on TLC and a few other stations. I just wanted you to know how proud I am of you and to have been one of your teachers, even though it was just gym class."
"I never did thank you for trying to help me. You were the only one that tried to intervene. It wasn't until later I found out you went out on a limb and talked to the police. Is that why you left town? Did they give you a hard time after that?"
"I didn't stick around long enough to find out. I wasn't about to stay in a school or town that thought it was okay to beat children."
"Thank you, for everything." Cody smiled.
Ms McIntyre squeezed Cody's arm. "I think there's someone waiting to speak with you. We'll talk again." She promised as she walked away.
Cody felt her throat go dry and tried to swallow. This was the hardest part. If she could get through this, she was home free.
"Please?can we talk?"
"What could you possibly have to say to me, Amanda?" Cody turned around to face her and fell into the green eyes just as she had on the first day they had met. But her anger was paramount.
"I didn't betray you, Cody, I know it seemed like it, but I didn't. I am guilty of bad judgment though. I told Bridget what happened and she blabbed it, after she embellished it of course. I should have trusted your feelings about her, but I thought she was my friend."
"You mean you didn't?all those years I thought?" 'All those years of hurt and anger?could she just let them go? But if Amanda didn't betray her?all that wasted time.'
"What else could you think?" Amanda interrupted Cody's thoughts. "It took me awhile to admit to myself that I really liked that kiss. Then when you didn't come back to school for the finals, I went by your house trying to find you. Nobody would tell me anything and I gave up thinking you didn't want to see me. I had been in college a couple of years when my mom finally heard what happened and told me."
They walked in silence for a few minutes. "Nobody would tell me where you were. You were underage and being protected by child services. Which is how I found out you had been only 14 at the time." Amanda gave her a reproachful look.
Cody knew it would take her awhile to sort out all her emotions. But to find out that Amanda hadn't betrayed her was like a weight being lifted from her shoulders. "So you liked my kiss?"
Amanda smiled. She had been afraid Cody wouldn't forgive her. "Yeah, of course that was a long time ago. I might be giving it more credit than it's due."
"That sounded an awful lot like a challenge to me." Cody smiled also. She felt her heart had awoken from its slumber and the weight of the world had been lifted from her shoulders.
They had made a circle of the small lake and were now, back in the crowd of people. Which both women felt was a good thing, since the conversation was getting a little bit to intimate for two people who hadn't seen one another for so long, and who had parted the way they had.
"Would you like to go to the dinner with me tonight?" Amanda asked as they walked towards to parked cars. Both women deciding to leave since both had accomplished what they had set out to do.
"It's at the VFW club, right?" A nodding conformation. "Is it formal? If it is I have anything to wear."
"Not formal, but something other than jeans or kakis."
"I brought one pants suit with me, so that have to do." Cody said. "Are you planning on wearing a dress?"
Amanda looked at her oddly. "Um?I have a skirt that I was going to wear."
They stopped beside a car. "This is mine, or it's borrowed from my parents actually. Can I give you a ride?"
"I have one. Well, I will when those two stop drooling over it." She inclined her head towards Fenton and Hank who where standing two cars over.
"Damn, Hank, would you look at this beauty. I wonder who it belongs to."
"I'd stay away from that, Fenton. That's a custom Harley and that thing costs more than your house did. Although that's not saying much since I've seen your house." Hank laughed.
Amanda nodded in understanding. "So I should pick you up?"
"Yes, unless you want to give the town an intimate view of your ass?sets."
Amanda grinned. "Not on your life. Pick you up at seven, at your old address?"
"Sounds good to me, now if you'll excuse me, I need to go rescue my baby from their grubby paws."
Cody made her way to stand behind the two men. "Pardon me." They parted and she moved past them to the bike.
"Oh now don't tell me that's yours." Fenton whined.
Cody laughed while she put on her helmet, started the bike and rode away.
Amanda waited until Cody left, hoping the two men wouldn't be any trouble. She laughed when she saw Fenton's reaction. He had his hands shoved in his pockets and his bottom lip poked out.
"Are you sure she's telling the truth?" Tracy asked.
"Why would she lie about it? She doesn't have anything to gain." Cody countered.
Tracy sighed. "You're probably right. Just be careful, I don't want to see you hurt again."
"I know, and I promise to watch my step."
"Okay." Tracy changed the topic. "I wish I could've seen that bitch's face when you told her she hadn't aged well."
"I couldn't believe I said it, it was so petty."
"What can I say; you learned from the master of pettiness." Tracy buffed her nails on her shirt.
"That I did. Look, I need to take a shower and get ready. I'll call tomorrow and give you an update. Love ya, Trace."
"Love you, too."
Continued in part two