Sex: Of course, and lots of it! I wouldn't recommend reading this one at work, guys. That being so: there will be "gasp" a bit of hetero in here. Sorry guys, just needed for the storyline.
Warning: I do not give permission for anyone to re-post this story anywhere with any changes, such as: change in title, character names, storyline, etc. I will seek legal action.
If you'd like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com.
Canton was thrilled to see things beginning to come together so well. She had a small army of workers, which certainly helped to speed things up. It had been two days since her dinner with Randi, and Canton was surprised that the blonde hadn't been to the site since, though Blake was there every day, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Well, almost. He had looked hung over this morning, but Canton wasn't going to fault the kid for having a good time.
As the sun rose higher in the sky, Canton was hoping that perhaps Randi would show up with lunch, or just show up at all. The catering company arrived right on time, and Canton stood back, watching as all her workers crammed their mouths with as much food as was available. Canton scanned the tables full of men and women until she saw Blake's familiar dark head.
"Blake, can I talk to you for a sec?" she asked, stepping up beside him.
"Sure." Blake pushed back from the table, his table mates giving him hoots and hollers that he was in trouble. He waved them off with a good-natured smile and followed Canton over towards where the front porch had once been. It was being rebuilt today. "What's up?" he asked, tanned arms crossed over his chest.
"I'm surprised I haven't seen your mom around. Everything okay?" Canton felt like a complete idiot for asking, after all Randi was a grown woman and could do as she pleased. Even so, Canton missed her.
Blake suddenly got real uncomfortable, a hand coming up to rub the back of his neck, tanned a rich brown from his week in the sun. "Uh," he hedged, not sure what he should say. One look into Canton's concerned blue eyes, he decided to tell. "She's not staying at the house right now, actually."
Canton was taken aback. "What? Why? "
"I don't know. I guess her and my dad got into it pretty bad a couple nights ago. She's been staying at Anne's ever since."
"Okay. Thanks, Blake," she said absently, walking towards her Jeep as Blake walked back to his table and lunch. She indicated for the site manager that she was leaving then climbed into her Jeep and got it started up.
Randi looked around the bedroom, hands on hips as she tried to decide what - if anything - needed to come with her for now. Satisfied, she grabbed the packed suitcase and headed downstairs, trying to hurry as though Shannon had left for work that morning, there was no telling if he'd come for lunch. She wanted to get out of there first, as right now wasn't the time for a confrontation with him; she needed to figure what her plan was, first.
The sun was bright and warm as she hurried as quickly as the heavy suitcase would allow, grunting as she heaved it into the backseat of her SUV. She heard a car pull up and her heart lurched. Expecting to see Shannon, she was relieved to see that it was Canton's Jeep. The relief was short-lived, as next came frustration and sadness. After pouring her heart and memories out for Anne, she had been forced to relive those moments from her past, which had proved to be the most painful of her life.
"Hey," Canton said, walking up the driveway to where Randi was loading her car. "What's this?" she asked, tapping the suitcase.
Randi sighed and looked up into Canton's eyes. "I'm not entirely sure what it is, to be honest. Is it something I should have done years ago or is it something temporary?" She shrugged. "I just don't know."
"Do you want to talk about it?" Canton asked. "I don't mean to be presumptuous, but my gut tells me some of this is because of me. At least, my keeping you out so late."
Randi studied her for a long moment then nodded. "Yes, I'd like to talk. I need to talk."
"Alright. Hop in and we'll-"
"No. I don't want to have to come back here to get my car. Follow me to Anne's and we'll go from there."
Canton nodded. "Okay."
During the short drive to Randi's friend's house, Canton couldn't keep her mind clear. So many things swirled around and around. Seeing Randi in the condition she was in: bruises on her face and the seeming death of her soul, guilt settled over Canton once more. If only she'd been stronger, none of this would have happened to this precious woman. And, Robin wouldn't have had to die, as she wouldn't have stormed out of the house that morning, angry.
Pushing all of that aside, Canton waited as Randi climbed into her Jeep and got buckled in. "Ready?" Canton asked. Getting Randi's nod, she got the Jeep moving.
They drove in silence for a long while, both lost in their respective thoughts. Finally, Randi was startled back into the here and now when she realized they were in the woods. A slight flush kissed her cheeks as she remembered the last time she'd been there. "Why here?" she asked softly.
Canton smiled, also remembering their last visit to the woods. "I didn't just used to come here with women. I used to come here all the time to think and be alone." He glanced over at Randi. "I figured it would be a good place to talk."
Randi nodded. "Okay."
Canton parked - a few yards away from where she'd parked her Plymouth nearly twenty years before - and cut the engine. She unbuckled her seatbelt so she could turn and face Randi, as Randi did the same. "Talk to me."
Randi let out a heavy sigh, running her hands through her hair. "Where to start."
Canton swallowed hard, knowing full-well what she was about to offer. "Why don't you start at the beginning, Randi," she said softly, watching as her fingers toyed with the steering wheel. "Why you married him."
Randi studied Canton for a long moment then decided to proceed. "That last day were together here," she began, indicating the woods around them, "was the day my life changed forever, Canton. My father saw us kissing in your car and when I got into the house, he nearly beat the life out of me and threatened to do the same to you if I ever saw you again."
Canton was stunned, her eyes wide as she stared at Randi. She couldn't speak so remained silent as Randi continued.
"I pushed you away. I had no choice and I wasn't strong enough to stand up to him." The tears began to come. "For crying out loud, I was graduating in a matter of weeks and would be gone from this place, and I still wasn't strong enough!" She wiped angrily at her eyes and snorted ruefully. "I'm still not strong enough."
Canton said nothing, instead reached inside her glove compartment to produce a small package of tissues. Randi took them with a grateful smile.
"Sorry. Anyway," she said, wiping her eyes, "I went off to college where I really began to excel and come alive. I loved school, Canton. I began to find my own identity when this guy came up to me and asked me out."
"Shannon," Canton said, a statement.
Randi nodded. "Shannon. Everything inside me screamed for me not to accept his marriage proposal, but I felt like I had the weight of the world on me. He did it in front of my parents. One look at my dad's face…"
"An offer you couldn't refuse."
"Basically." Randi blew her nose and got herself under control for a moment before she continued. She turned away from Canton, unable to look at her. "When you showed up at my door that night, I knew in my heart that I didn't want to marry Shannon, that I had no business being with him in any way: certainly not as his wife."
Canton stared off into the trees, listening to Randi's quiet words, even as her own self-hatred grew.
Suddenly, Randi's own anger grew and she climbed out of the Jeep, throwing her tissue as she spun back to the Jeep and Canton. "Why did you leave?" she demanded. "Why did you do that to me, Canton? I loved you! I wanted to spend my life with you! Why!?"
Canton hurried from the Jeep and around to Randi's side. "I'm sorry!" she exclaimed. "I didn't want to hurt you, Randi. I knew I would. I was young and stupid and…" her shoulders sagged as the air seemed to be knocked out of her. "And scared. I was scared."
An uneasy silence prevailed as both absorbed what had just happened and what had been revealed. Finally Randi spoke. "What were you scared of, Canton?"
Canton took a deep breath before turning to face Randi. "Loving you. Being enough for you. Not hurting you. Back in those days I had the world by the tail - and every woman I wanted. What if I did something so stupid you'd never be able to forgive me?"
"So you ran, then."
"Yes. I ran. I fully admit it, and it's something I'll regret and wonder about for the rest of my life." She looked unwaveringly into Randi's tormented eyes. "You were the love of my life, Randi. If I would have lost you due to my own stupidity, I would have lost everything."
"But didn't you? Lose me to your own stupidity, Canton?" Randi asked softly, her heart breaking for the broken woman who stood before her.
"Ironic, isn't it?" Canton smirked. "I feel so responsible for so many things because of the decision I made that morning, Randi. Foremost is your unhappiness in life." She took a deep breath, feeling as though a weight had been lifted, finally able to speak her heart after so many years. "Maybe we would have been happier than either of us had a right to dream about. Maybe we wouldn't have made it. Guess we'll never know."
"Don't carry this with you anymore, Canton," Randi said, stepping up to her. "It's been almost twenty years and we've both made our choices." She reached up and briefly cupped Canton's cheek. "Let it all go." She took Canton in a comforting hug, holding her close.
Canton clung to her like a drowning woman given a life rope. "How did we both end up with the lives that we have?" she asked into the hug.
"I don't know," Randi whispered, eyes closed as she rested her head against Canton's shoulder. "I guess without Shannon, I wouldn't have Blake. Everything works out how it's supposed to." She pulled away from Canton with a sigh. "At least I have to believe that."
Canton nodded, taking a step back from Randi in order to not pull her back against her. She longed to hold Randi. "He's a good-looking kid."
"Thank you. You know what's funny is, he's always reminded me of you. It's crazy. People say he looks like me, but I look at him and see you."
Canton grinned. "I may have my talents, but unfortunately getting you pregnant isn't one of them."
Randi grinned, looking down at the toe of her shoe as it kicked at a couple rocks. "Well, I did sleep with you and Shannon within a twenty-four hour period of time."
Canton laughed. "Does Shannon know? I mean, has he insisted on a paternity test?"
Randi grinned. "Not yet, but I'm sure that's coming next."
All mirth came to an abrupt end, reality hitting full force. "What are you going to do, Randi?" Canton asked softly, a hand on Randi's shoulder.
Randi blew out a breath. "Oh, I don't know." She crossed her arms over her chest, making her seem even smaller. "All I do know is that I don't want this anymore." She met Canton's concerned gaze. "I don't belong in this marriage, Canton and I have no idea what to do about it. For so many years I stayed in it for Blake's sake, and for the sake of my own fears. Now, he's grown and ready to be his own man. So now what? God only knows what this marriage would turn into without Blake for both of us to worry about."
"Undoubtedly it would fall apart eventually." Canton leaned back against the side of her Jeep.
Randi joined her. "There's so much I wanted to do with my life, Canton." She released a heavy sigh. "I feel like - other than being Blake's mom - I've wasted my life."
"Don't say that. Don't you get it, Randi?" Canton said, her voice impassioned with her rising emotions. She grabbed both of Randi's arms, holding tight as she got in her face. "You are still a young, beautiful and vibrant woman! You can do anything you want! You want to go back to school, do it! You want to be an attorney? Do it! You want to continue being Shannon's wife? Do it! The only thing holding you back is you, baby!"
Randi stared at Canton, touched by her impassioned words and shocked by the accidental use of the endearment Canton had always used with her. Randi looked her dead in the eye. "Can I do this, Canton? I mean, can I really do this?"
Canton was overcome by her deep emotion and connection to this woman, as well as a deep need to comfort and protect her. She cupped Randi's face and placed a gentle kiss on her lips. She smiled. "Yes. I believe in you and will help you in any way I can."
Randi grabbed Canton in another hug, her heart pounding and mind spinning. She suddenly felt like she could leap tall buildings in a single bound and could fly to the moon. Canton's strength was all she had ever needed to accomplish the unthinkable. She squeezed tightly before pulling away and giving Canton a winning smile.
"I want to do this."
"Then you will," Canton smiled back.
The cottage was filled with laughter, music and hammering as Canton, Randi, Blake and another of Canton's young recruits - a pretty young girl, Kerry who Blake had his eye on - finished the inside. The final nail was driven in and the four erupted in cheers.
"Finally!" Canton exclaimed, stepping to the center of the living room and looking around with a critical eye, hands on hips. "Now all she needs is some paint, furniture and appliances."
"This place is going to be gorgeous when it's done, Canton," Randi complimented, reaching back to readjust her ponytail, which had gotten messy with the hard work she'd put in today, the strands falling into her face.
Blake eyed Canton, Canton nodding with a wink. "Well guys, we're gonna head out for the day, if that's cool, Canton."
"Yeah, you guys did an amazing job this week. Go enjoy your weekend." Canton gave the two teens a hug.
Randi walked over to Blake. "I'm proud of you, son. You've really stepped up to the plate here."
Blake blushed and looked away, unable to meet the amused gaze of Kerry. "Thanks, Mom," he muttered.
Understanding dawning, Randi decided
to make it worse. She grabbed her son by the face and began to
rain noisy kisses all over, Canton and Kerry's laughter egging her
"Mom!" Blake tried to squirm away, but was only caught by seeking fingers, causing him to squeal like a little girl.
Randi was panting from her exertion but managed to grab the gaze of Kerry. She indicated with a nod of her head that the girl should take over, which Kerry happily did, tickling Blake from behind. Soon Canton joined in, Blake in tears as his laughter came in out of control bouts.
"You guys suck!" he cried out, finally managed to squirm away, the three women laughing. Blake's face was red from exertion and embarrassment, but he managed to grin along with them.
"Come on, Blake. Help me load the 4Runner before you take off," Randi said, walking over to him and giving him a quick one-armed hug. Arms wrapped around each other, they left the cottage.
"I can't believe you did that to me," he muttered, giving his mother a good-natured glare.
Randi grinned. "I'm going to give you a really solid piece of advice with women, Blake. They love a man who's not afraid to have fun and make fun of themselves." She slapped him playfully on the butt. "Trust me on that one."
"Is that why you're leaving dad? He's not so fun anymore?" Blake asked, all play finished.
Randi loaded the last of the wrapped food remnants she'd brought to the site into the back of the SUV before turning to him. "I don't know exactly what's going to happen there, Blake, but what I can tell you is that I haven't been happy for a really long time with your dad."
Blake nodded, kicking at some dirt at his feet. "I think I always kinda knew that."
"I have to be honest with you, sweetie. You're a grown man now and don't need me like you used to. Once you move out, there will be nothing there anymore. Your dad and I have based our lives around you," she took his chin gently in two fingers, forcing him to look at her, "which has been the great joy of my life, Blake. Being your mom has been the best thing I've ever done. My greatest accomplishment."
"Even better than if you'd earned your degree?" he asked, a slight smile on his face.
"Blake, you're better than a room full of degrees, and I wouldn't change it for the world." She grabbed him in a tight hug, never knowing until just that moment just how proud she was to be a mom. "I love you, Blakey, and don't you ever forget that."
He nodded, pulling away from the hug after a long moment. "I won't." He was about to walk away but stopped, turning to look at her. "I want you to be happy, Mom." With that he walked over to Kerry, who was waiting for him next to her car, Randi watching him go, the tears of a mother's pride in her eyes.
"Everything okay?" Canton asked, walking up beside Randi.
"I can't believe how fast he's grown up," Randi whispered.
Canton watched as the two teens pulled away, both sending a wave their way, which Canton and Randi returned. "I hear it goes fast."
"Did you ever want kids, Canton?" Randi asked, pulling herself together as she closed and locked up her 4Runner. Together, she and Canton walked back to the cottage.
"Yeah, I did. It just never worked out that way."
Randi bumped Canton with her hip. "You're not dead until you're six feet under."
Canton chuckled. "Yeah, yeah." Once inside the cottage, Canton turned to Randi. "In the mood to do some painting?"
"Sure! Bring it on, Dr. Landis."
"Ohh, a challenge! You got it, Miss O'Shea."
Randi didn't correct Canton at using her maiden name, instead liked the sound of coming from Canton's mouth. Soon they were both hooked up with paint, roller and brush. They started on opposite walls, wanting to get the paint done before the hardwood floors were to be installed the following Monday.
After awhile, Canton glanced over at Randi, deciding now was as good a time as any. "So, Blake and I were talking the other day."
"About?" Randi asked when Canton didn't continue.
"About him renting the cottage from me when it's finished."
Randi stopped painting and turned to look at Canton's back. "What?""
Canton continued to paint, figuring a more nonchalant approach was the best. She didn't want to get Mamma Bear's hackles to rise. "He came up to me and asked what my plans were for the cottage and it just went from there." She glanced at Randi over her shoulder, "he's ready for his own place, Randi."
"Says who?" Randi asked, hand on hip. "Says a woman who doesn't have any children?"
"No, says Blake," Canton replied softly, knowing Randi's panic was more about her son growing up than anything Canton had said or done.
Randi sighed, feeling like an ass. "I'm sorry. That was uncalled for."
"Don't worry about it, nothing to be sorry for."
"How do you feel about that, Canton? An eighteen year old boy moving into this beautiful place?"
"I see an eighteen year old man who is trying to start out in life. Besides," she said with a shit-eating grin, "I already told him if he trashes it you and me will take it out of his ass."
Randi's bark of laughter was a welcome sound. "I'll have to talk to Shannon about it, but how is he going to pay you rent? After you finish here, he's out of a job."
"Not necessarily. I've asked him to essentially be the groundskeeper here, as well as he can keep an eye on things since I'll be bouncing back and forth between here and New York for a bit until I get things settled there and the new offices opened here."
Randi stared at her, slack-jawed. "You're moving back here permanently?"
Canton hid her smile as she turned to face Randi. "Yes. It's time for me to establish some roots back home."
Overjoyed, Randi dropped her roller in the paint pan and hurried over to Canton, taking her in an enthusiastic hug, which was returned fully. After one last tight squeeze Randi pulled away, grinning at Canton like a fool. "Glad to hear it."
"So I gathered," Canton chuckled, turning back to her painting.
A moment later they could hear the sound of gravel crunching under tires as someone pulled up in front of the main house. Roller in hand, Canton stepped to the open window of the cottage to see who it was. She saw a black Ford Explorer parked and a man stepping up to the recently-rebuilt front porch.
"Who is it?" Randi asked, stepping up beside Canton. Her stomach fell. "It's Shannon." Randi felt like she would vomit as she set her roller down in the paint pan and wiped her hands on a towel before heading out into the warm day.
"Do you want me to leave?" Canton asked as Randi passed her.
"No. I want you to stay, Canton," Randi said sternly, setting her jaw and spine for a fight. She walked out to the space between the cottage and main house before calling Shannon's name. He turned at the sound and walked over to her.
"Blake said I'd find you here," he said, his voice tinged with bitterness.
"I'm helping Canton paint," Randi explained unnecessarily, as her clothing and skin was splattered with mocha color.
"Look," he began, a hand moving to the back of his neck as nerves began to settle in. "Things kind of got out of hand the other night."
"Kind of," Randi said, the bruises just now beginning to fade.
"For that I'm sorry." He managed to look her in the eye. "I mean that. I'm sorry and it shouldn't have happened."
Randi said nothing, only stood with her arms crossed over her chest, wondering where this would go and if it was the right time. She needed to finally make the cut; it was only fair to Shannon, to Blake and to herself.
"I want you to come home, Randi. I'm fine with your renewed friendship with this woman. I mean, you're a happily married woman now. The past is the past. I hardly think I have anything to fear from some lesbian." He stepped towards her, placing large hands on her shoulders.
She looked up at him, trying to hide her contempt. "Leave Canton out of this, Shannon. She doesn't have a thing to do with it and has just been an innocent bystander in my messes."
Shannon's brows fell. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm unhappy Shannon and have been for a long time. Long before Canton ever came back into the picture."
Shannon was struck dumb for a minute. "What? What are you saying? I thought you were happy."
"No, you thought you were happy and to hell with me. Honestly Shannon, I'm not even so sure how happy you've been."
Shannon glared over at the cottage and that woman he figured was in there. He dropped his hands from Randi's shoulders and dropped his voice, not wanting to be overheard. "What kind of whack job shit has that woman been feeding you?"
"Damn it!" Randi exploded, taking a step back from him. "Does nobody realize I have my own goddamn mind that I do occasionally use?"
Shannon stared at her, stunned. "Randi listen-"
"No!" She got in his face, fed up. "You listen to me. I don't want to play the happy housewife anymore and I want a divorce. Do you get that? It's what I want," she thumped her own chest to emphasize her point. "Me, Shannon. Not you, not my parents, not Canton Landis. Me." She took several deep breaths to try and calm herself down. "I want my own life back, Shannon and most importantly, I want me back. I've been living my life for everyone else. When is it my turn?"
Shannon didn't know what to say. He hadn't been expecting such an explosion and certainly hadn't expected the content of that explosion. Feeling numb and overwhelmed, he nodded and walked back to his car, starting it and driving away.
Randi was trembling, fear and relief mixing to create a near-shattered mass. It was only when she felt strong arms support her that she allowed herself to crumble, though she didn't cry. Where Shannon was concerned, she had no more tears left to shed. Finally she felt strong enough to stand on her own two feet and pulled out of the hug, scrubbing her face with her hands.
"What am I going to do?" she breathed.
"Take it a step at a time," Canton said softly, rubbing soothing circles on Randi's back.
"I can't undo this now, can I?" she asked, walking over to her 4Runner and sitting on the bumper.
"Do you want to?" Canton asked, standing nearby, offering her silent support.
Randi contemplated that question for a moment then finally shook her head, looking up at Canton. "No. I don't."
"Then we start at square one. Let's find you a job and a place to live."
"Okay," Randi nodded. She pushed to her feet, headed back towards the cottage, but stopped suddenly as a wave of realization crashed over her. "I just asked my husband for a divorce!" Her eyes grew wide, hands covering her mouth.
Canton nodded. "Yes you did."
"Oh my god!" Suddenly it felt like the weight of the world had been lifted, even as fear and uncertainty poured in through the cracks. "Oh my god."
Randi pulled open the kitchen cabinets and looked in them, mentally tallying how much would be going in there and if there would be enough room. She could hear Anne wandering around the two-bedroom apartment, inspecting the new digs of her best friend.
"Well, what do you think?" Randi asked, turning to face her friend, who had just shut the fridge door.
Anne scanned the empty kitchen one more time before facing the blonde. "Are you sure about this?"
"With everything in me," Randi said, no doubt in her voice or in her heart. Truth be told, she felt like a teenager again, getting her very own place for the first time. That wasn't too far off the mark, for that matter.
"It'll be so strange," Anne said, hands tucked into the back pockets of her shorts. "Not having you guys over as a couple anymore. Movie dates. That sort of thing."
"I know. It'll be strange for me, too. I've been a 'we' for nearly twenty years and suddenly I'll be an 'I'." She gave her friend a blinding smile. "It's for the best, Anne. I'm happy."
Anne walked over to Randi and pulled her into a tight hug. "Then I'm happy, too." They parted and toured the rest of the apartment. Standing in the middle of the bare master bedroom, Anne grinned. "Sooooo, what does the good doctor think of your new place?"
"She hasn't seen it yet, Anne," Randi said, warning in her voice. "This has nothing to do with her. Besides, she's back in New York for a month"
"Will she?" Anne asked, her voice becoming very serious.
"Will she, what?"
"Have something to do with this."
Randi sighed, walking over to the window and looking out over the park that was her bedroom view. "That ship has sailed, Anne," she said quietly. "For the best, I'm sure. I mean," she snorted ruefully, "it's not like I have much to offer her anymore. I'm not a cute seventeen year old girl anymore. I'm a woman who's almost thirty-seven who's been ridden hard and put back wet."
Anne was incredulous. "What? Says who?!" She walked over to Randi and turned her to face her. "Randi, half of the twenty-five year olds out there would kill to look like you now, let alone at thirty-seven. You're gorgeous, have a body that I hate you for and are fun, kind, smart, caring-"
"You can stop in three years," Randi joked, waving on the compliments.
Anne smiled. "Well, it's all true and much more. Don't count yourself as out of the game just yet. My gut tells me the game has just started for you, my friend."
Canton sat at her home office desk, finishing up some notes from her day at the office. She sat back, tossing her reading glasses to the desk top as she rubbed her eyes. It had been an incredibly long work week for her, extending her office hours to try and fit in all her patients that couldn't get in to see her during her visit back home to renovate. She'd slowly been allocating her patient roster to her partnering doctor in the practice, only keeping a select list that she'd fly back to New York to see once a month.
She reached for her coffee, sipping. As she did, she noticed the framed picture on the corner of the desk, the lamp causing a slight glare on the clean glass. She grabbed the picture, staring down at her own face and that of Robin. The picture had been snapped during their vacation in Scotland during their first year together, Birkhill Castle in the background, the moody Scottish skies above. Looking into their smiling faces - new love in the air - how could they have possibly known how tragically it would end, just three short years later?
"If only we'd known," she murmured, setting the picture on the desk where she could look at it. As she did, her gaze focused on Robin and her beautiful smile. Suddenly, her mind magically transposed the image of Randi's smiling face over Robin's, and something inside Canton clicked into place. It felt so right, her heart finding a peace that she'd never known.
Suddenly, Canton was on her feet and headed through the loft, counting up just how many relics of Robin were still scattered about the large space. Framed picture after framed picture were found, along with some old letters that were hidden in the drawer that once housed Robin's socks.
Canton gathered it all, placing it on the expensive Oriental rug in the living area, sitting cross-legged in front of it all. In all, she counted fourteen framed pictures, eleven letters and three of Robin's sweaters that Canton hadn't been able to get rid of. As she looked at it all she knew that, though she had loved Robin very much, keeping her things had been an elaborate cover-up for Canton's own feelings. She'd allowed all of it to keep her from having to feel for someone else. In that moment she realized that even Robin herself had been a cover up, helping Canton forget about Randi.
Canton pushed up from the floor and headed back to the bedroom area, puling out her jewelry box. Opening the lid, she immediately found the single earring - a small diamond stud - and plucked it out. She brought it to her eyes to study the way the light glinted off the stone. She remembered that day so well. She and Randi had spent a lazy Saturday in Canton's apartment, making love, talking and laughing. When Canton had returned from dropping Randi off at home, she'd found the single stud in her bed. Even though Randi had asked about it, Canton had denied any knowledge of it, wanting to hold onto it.
She'd never let it go.
Canton sat on the end of her bed, the earring resting in her palm. As she stared down at it, she thought about Randi and how much she missed her. She had known that returning back home there would be a chance that she'd run into Randi, let alone rekindle their friendship; that had been unexpected. It didn't help knowing that Randi was leaving her husband. Canton knew she had to be careful and not let her mind go there or even remotely think Randi's recent decisions had a thing to do with her. The moment she thought that was the moment someone would get hurt; likely her.
Pocketing the earring, Canton walked back to her gathered possessions and stood over them, hands on hips as she tried to decide what to do. She knew in her heart that keeping Robin's things was not out of a sense of great loss or grief or not being able to let go. Well, it was a matter of not being able to let go, but it wasn't Robin that she couldn't let go of. Realizing it was incredibly unfair to Robin's memory, Canton searched until she found a box that would hold everything and packed it all away. As she was about to put the last framed picture away, Canton brought it to her lips, closing her eyes as she placed a lingering kiss on Robin's image.
"I love you, Robin," she whispered, then sealed the box. She walked to the bedroom area and placed Randi's earring on the highly-polished cherry wood of her dresser.
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