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 numb, sitting on the couch staring blankly into space, Kerry's hand rubbing comforting circles on her back. Blake had only been gone for a few minutes, leaving Kerry to stay with Canton .
“It could all still be okay,” Kerry murmured, leaning forward to look into Canton 's downturned face. “Hang in there.”
Canton 's mind was whirring, dread and fear like she'd never known beginning to overwhelm her numb state. “Oh my god,” she whispered, burying her face in her hands.
Kerry's car – which Blake had borrowed – came to a screeching halt on the street in front of the coffee shop. He didn't even bother closing the car door as she bolted into the melee of emergency personnel and news crews. Like a runner in an obstacle course, Blake dodged people and emergency vehicles, hurdling over caution tape.
“You can't be in here!” a policeman shouted, trying to grab Blake's arm.
“That's my mother!” he yelled, pushing his way inside the shop. Once he was able to take in the scene before him, he saw one body lying on the floor, covered by a cloth, blood already beginning to soak through. Blake swallowed his nausea down, taking a step back. Sure hands caught him before he could trip. Turning, a sob was ripped from his throat when he saw his mother, arm bandaged and blood-soaked, but alive.
“It's okay, baby,” she whispered, holding onto him as tightly as he was holding onto her. The hug was making her arm throb even more, but she didn't care. “I'm okay, baby,” she murmured, placing a comforting kiss to her son's cheek. “I'm okay.”
Blake pulled away, swiping at his tear-streaked face with her forearm. “What happened? Did dad…”
Randi glanced down at Shannon 's covered body, quickly turning away. “The police had a shot and they had to take it.”
Blake felt rage coursing through him, but he wasn't sure where to direct it first. “Those bastards!” he shouted, glaring at the police around him.
“Blake, no,” Randi exclaimed, grabbing him by the shoulders. She knew she was in a tough position: she didn't want Blake to hate the police but she didn't want him to hate his father, either, as everyone knew that Shannon had made up his mind, his intent very clear as his finger had inched back on that trigger. It had been a tough decision, as Shannon 's gun could very well have gone off during the moment of impact, or the sharp shooter could have missed and hit Randi instead. In the end, the means had to justify the end.
Blake rubbed the back of his neck with his hand, so much like his father. “They killed him.”
“They were protecting me, Blake,” Randi said, trying to keep her own emotions down. She was still deeply shaken, and in truth, wanted nothing more than to run to Canton , where she always felt safe.
“Ma'am, we just need to ask you a few questions before we let you go, as well as set up a time that's good for you in the near future to come down to the station,” one of the detectives said, feeling guilty about interrupting a moment between relieved son and mother.
“Alright, Detective,” Randi agreed, taking Blake by the hand and following the suited man to a table to talk.
Kerry sat on the couch, legs together and jiggling as she waited. She'd received a text from Blake twenty minutes before that read simply: WE'RE ON OUR WAY. Canton , for her part was like a caged tiger. She was not typically a praying type, but she had sent more pleading words up to the heavens tonight than she had in her entire life. She and Kerry had spoken much, both too far absorbed in their own internal images of horror and fear.
Finally, tires crunching gravel outside perked both their ears up, and had them both running to the front door. Canton stopped on the top step of the porch, Kerry running past her and into Blake's arms. Canton watched as Randi stepped out of her 4Runner, Blake having driven Kerry's car home. Randi's gaze immediately found Canton 's, tears welling as she slammed the car door shut and ran.
Canton has no idea how she managed to get down those stairs without falling and breaking her neck, as her gaze never left Randi. The two met in a hard collision between the cars and the stairs, both clinging to the other, finally able to breathe. Canton held on, trying desperately to pull Randi even closer, one hand on her back the other on the back of her head, holding her to her.
Randi felt like for a moment she could let go of all the horrifying events of the night; as long as Canton was there, she was fine. She felt a hand on her back and turned to see Kerry standing next to her. Reluctantly she let go of Canton and turned to accept Kerry's hug.
“I'm so glad you're okay, Randi,” Kerry murmured, squeezing tight before letting her go.
“Thank you, sweetie,” Randi said, squeezing Kerry's arm in appreciation.
“Are you okay, Mom? Do you want me to take you home?” Blake asked, stepping up beside Kerry, a protective arm slung over her shoulders.
“No,” Randi said, looking back over at Canton .
“She's going to stay here tonight, Blake,” Canton said, stepping up beside Randi, easily reading her need, which matched her own.
“Okay. I think that's a great idea. I'll just be over there,” he said, pointing to the cottage he was renting. “If you need anything, anything at all, don't hesitate to ask.” Blake gave his mother a long, lingering hug then a kiss on the cheek. “I love you.”
“I love you, too Blake.” Randi smiled up at him, so proud of the man he was becoming as she cupped his slightly bristled cheek. “If you need me, son, you know where I'll be.” She studied his face for a long moment, knowing that likely the events of the night hadn't kicked in quite yet. Blake – and her, for that matter – had a lot to sift through: not only was Shannon dead, but he'd tried to kill Randi in the process. As much as she was struggling with the fact that her baby boy was sexually active, she was grateful Kerry would be with him tonight. She was a good girl, and Randi couldn't ask for better.
Randi watched her son and his girlfriend walk away, disappearing into the night as they walked the short distance to the cottage. She sighed as she felt a hand on her lower back. Turning, she met Canton 's gaze, matching her tired smile.
“Let's go in,” Canton suggested, turning towards the house.
As soon as the door was closed and locked behind them, Randi grabbed Canton in another hug, this one lasting nearly a full half hour. She rested her head against Canton 's shoulder, her body tucked as closely into Canton 's as she can get. She needed the closeness, needed the feel of Canton 's body against hers, needed to know that she was truly okay and survived the night.
Canton was grateful, her hand gently running through Randi's hair, which was stiff in some places from dried blood, cast off from Shannon 's shooting. “Can I get you anything?” she asked softly. “Food? Something to drink?”
“A shower,” Randi sighed, loathe to let go even as she did. She looked up into Canton 's face. “I need a shower and sleep. I'm so exhausted.”
“That, I can do.”
Together they turned off all the lights and made sure the house was locked up, then Canton led Randi by the hand up the stairs and down the long hall that led to her bedroom. She glanced quickly at Randi to make sure she was okay with the destination. Randi gave her a smile and encouraging squeeze of her hand.
“I want you close to me tonight,” Canton explained unnecessarily.
Once inside the beautiful room, decorated in the same nineteenth century style of the rest of the house, Canton showed Randi where anything she'd need was stored, as well as gave her a t-shirt and shorts to change into. The irony was lost on neither of them, considering they had repeated this very same thing – on opposite sides – mere weeks before.
An hour later, Canton and Randi lay in the massive four-poster that was Canton 's bed. As soon as they'd laid down, Randi had scooted over until she lay curled up against Canton , mindful of her wounded arm. They lay in silence for a long while, adjusting to the feel of the other woman.
“It's been awhile, huh?” Canton said, her voice a quiet hush in the large bedroom.
“Yeah. Long while.” Randi readjusted her head on Canton 's shoulder, needing to be as close as she could. It felt wonderful. Her arm ached, but she pushed it out of her mind, instead wanting to focus on the fact that she was alive. “I really thought he was going to do it,” she said after a long moment.
Canton said nothing, just listened. She knew it was a matter of time before Randi would begin to talk, which she had to think was a good thing. She combing her fingers through Randi's drying hair, placing a kiss atop the golden crown.
“You should have seen the look in his eyes, Canton .” Randi didn't even have to close her eyes to see the paranoid hatred in Shannon 's gaze, his intent clear, even without the gun thrust into her face.
“Why do you think he chose that route, Randi?” Canton asked softly.
“A lot of reasons: I think he knew he had lost for good, and just couldn't take that. I think there was an element of humiliation for him that was too much to bear. Shannon was a very proud man, but not always in the best of ways.”
“Do you think he loved you? I mean, was he happy?”
Randi was silent for a long time as she contemplated that question. Finally she sighed, lifting her head to rest on an upturned palm, looking down at Canton . “I don't believe just one person can be unhappy, Canton . I really don't. I think Shannon liked to play games, I think he liked to convince those in his life – and perhaps himself – that he was. At the end of the day,” she shook her head, “he couldn't have treated me the way he did and been happy.”
Canton studied Randi's face for a long moment, forgetting what she was thinking and had been about to say. She brought a hand up, running her fingertips along Randi's jaw, feeling the softness of her skin. “I really thought I'd lost you tonight,” she whispered.
Randi smiled. “I thought you'd lost me, too.” As Randi stared down at Canton , she knew there was nothing more natural than to be in her house, in her bed and in her arms. She knew in that moment that she loved Canton , had loved her since that first night at the party, and had never stopped. Even so, she knew she had far too much baggage right now. She gently caressed the side of Canton 's face then lay back down. “Let's sleep.”
Canton hugged her tight, her heart still pounding as she thought for sure Randi was going to kiss her. As much as she would have loved that, she knew they both had some demons to fight first.
Canton nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard someone scream. Eyes wide and chest heaving, she looked around the dark bedroom, barely able to make out Randi's curled up figure lying in the bed next to her, her body thrashing and legs scissoring under the sheet.
“No!” Randi cried in her sleep, tears beginning to stream down her cheeks. She rolled from one side to the other side, crying out as she rolled over on her wounded arm, which thrust her back into reality. Panting and still crying, she looked around, still seeing her dream images.
“Randi!” Canton cried, getting to her knees and crawling over to the blonde, slowly bringing her hands up to cup a pale face. “Baby, it's Canton . Come back to me, baby.” Randi looked at her, eyes wide with terror. “Baby,” Canton whispered, not sure what to do, she began to rain kisses all over Randi's face, whispering words of endearment and love between each one.
“ Canton ?” Randi whispered, blinking several times to make sure she wasn't still dreaming.
“Yes,” Canton whispered back, brushing strands of blonde off of Randi's sweat-soaked forehead. “It's okay.” She lowered her head again, but this time to make sure Randi was looking at her and was awake.
As Randi stared into Canton 's eyes, she felt an overwhelming need. Before she could think or stop herself, she caught Canton 's lips with her own, bringing up a hand to hold Canton in place. The kiss remained lips only, but was soft and beautiful: a kiss of gratitude and a kiss of promise. She pulled away, resting her forehead against Canton 's. “Thank you for being here. I love you.”
Canton 's heart was pounding, the kiss and words reaching in and twining around her heart. She placed another soft, lingering kiss to Randi's lips. “I love you, too.” She brushed Randi's cheek with her fingertips. “I'll always be here.”
Randi pulled her into a painfully tight hug, a soft whimper of desperation escaping her lips. She kissed Canton again, the kiss hard and demanding, almost animalistic, her hands grabbing at Canton 's t-shirt, the sound of ripping material startling Canton out of the kiss.
“Wait,” she breathed, her chest heaving as she broke from the frantic kiss. “Wait!” She grabbed Randi's wrists, getting her attention. “What are you doing?”
“I need you, damn it!” Randi exclaimed, breaking free from Canton 's loose grasp and working at her shirt again, finally tugging it over Canton 's head and pushing her back to the mattress. “I need you.” She began to lay a fiery trail of kisses down Canton 's neck, nipping at the skin as she went.
Canton was torn between a world of absolute pleasure and a world of guilt, knowing Randi could very well regret what she was doing, once in a better state of mind. Her eyes closed and a gasp was pulled from her when she felt a hot mouth on her left breast, Randi's hands frantically tugging at Canton 's silk boxers, growling in frustration as she couldn't tug them down fast enough. Instead, she shoved her hand down them, fingers finding Canton 's wetness with a sensual groan.
“Wait,” Canton said again, Randi's searching and rough fingers pulling her out of her pleasure-laced haze. She grabbed Randi's wrist again, pulling it out of her boxers. “Randi, stop.”
“No!” Randi growled, trying to shove her hand back down, even as her mouth returned to a rigid nipple.
Canton 's sharp voice caught Randi's attention, snapping her out of her own haze. She froze for a moment, realization dawning on her. “Oh god,” she whispered, slowly pulling her hand out of Canton's underwear then pulling away from Canton altogether. “I'm so sorry,” she said, a sob escaping her throat and her eyes filling. “I'm so sorry, Canton .”
“Shhh,” Canton cooed, reaching for her, even as Randi tried to elude her touch. “No, come here.” She pulled Randi to her until Randi lay on top of her, head tucked under her chin. Randi's tears came soon after, a flood washing Canton 's naked skin, Canton holding her close. “Cry it out, baby,” she whispered, her own eyes filling, able to sense the deep pain and confusion that racked Randi's emotional state.
Randi couldn't stop crying, her body shaking with the strength of her release, Canton 's warm skin through her own t-shirt a huge comfort. She felt that warmth and decided she wanted more of it. She pulled away suddenly, startling Canton and whisked her t-shirt over her head, tossing it to the foot of the bed. She returned to her previous position, the feel of Canton 's naked warmth against her own warming her to the core, like a baby and its mother.
Canton was shocked by the move, and though in some ways it tortured her no end, another part of her understood the reason behind it. She held Randi close, letting her cry, her hands running all over the smoothness of Randi's naked back, letting Randi know of the human contact.
After nearly forty-five minutes, Randi calmed, snuggling in even closer to Canton . “I can't believe my son's father is dead,” she whispered, her fingers gently caressing Canton 's shoulder. “God, how is Blake going to survive this?”
“One day at a time. I imagine it'll hit him tomorrow or soon after.”
Randi nodded. “I'm sure. They weren't extremely close – Blake had always been closer to me. Well, as close as he'd allow himself to be to his parents, that is.”
Canton smiled. “I think we all go through that at one time or other.”
“ Canton ?”
“Am I a bad person? Do I deserve this? Did I kill Shannon by marrying him?” The tears began again.
“Oh, baby. No,” Canton whispered, placing a kiss on Randi's head. “God, no. He made his own choices, and they had nothing to do with you.” She brought a hand up, combing her fingers through Randi's hair.
Randi was quiet for a long while, digesting all Canton had said. She knew in her heart that she was right, but still struggled with the events inside; even as her arm ached unmercifully. She shut off her mind for a moment, allowing her physicality to take over: she could feel Canton 's breasts against her upper chest, the soft fullness comforting and sensuous at the same time. She sighed, flattening her hand on Canton 's flat stomach, able to feel the twitch of the muscle beneath the soft skin. Pulling herself out of her fugue, she spoke. “Do you remember when you were little, Canton ?” she said, her voice soft and wistful. “You were little and had all these crazy ideas of where your life would end up.”
“Yes,” Canton admitted, closing her eyes as she tried to push away the feeling of Randi touching her. She couldn't allow herself to get lost in that. Randi needed her and needed her to be there for her, not there for her own needs.
“What did you wish for, Canton ?” Randi whispered, her gaze watching as her fingertips trailed up along Canton 's ribs then down the centerline of her stomach. “What did you want when you were a little girl?”
Canton's soothing circles on Randi's back were slowly turning into caresses, her fingers trailing over the soft skin and jagged structure up and down Randi's spine, moving of their own accord. “I thought I wanted to build things, create new structures; I loved how much architecture made sense. There was no guessing, no changing: it was or it wasn't. And,” she whispered, her fingernails running up into the back of Randi's hair, giving the blonde chills. “I wanted to make a life with someone who understood me.”
“Did you find that in New York ?” Randi asked, drawn to the warmth of Canton 's neck.
“No,” Canton murmured, eyes sliding closed as she felt a soft kissed placed at the base of her neck then another on the side, just under her jaw.
“Too bad,” Randi whispered, placing another kiss as her hand roamed up along Canton 's ribs, thumb brushing dangerously close to the rounded underside of Canton 's right breast. “Me neither.”
Canton 's head fell to the side a bit, giving Randi's mouth more access. “Guess we're both screwed,” she whispered, her hand finding its way to the back of Randi's head.
“Depends,” Randi murmured, working her way up to Canton 's mouth.
“On what?” Canton asked, her hands running down Randi's back, flirting with the subtle rise of her behind.
“On when you think it's too late.” She was careful not to lean on her wounded arm as she deepened the kiss, knowing in her heart that only Canton could make her feel whole again – or for the first time.
Feeling Randi's flinch as she put slight weight on her arm, Canton carefully pushed them over so Randi lay on her back, her arm free of stress.
The part of Canton that had worried before at Randi's need for her touch dwindled, the larger part of her now needing Randi's touch, instead. She continued the kiss, one of her hands coming up to caress the side of Randi's face. She could feel their naked breasts pressed together, which heightened her excitement all the more. She moved one of her thighs, insinuated it between Randi's, which opened for her, both sighing into the kiss.
“It's been so long,” Randi murmured into the kiss, her arms reaching up around Canton's neck, adjusting her hips so she and Canton fit perfectly together.
“Far too long,” Canton agreed, moving from Randi's mouth to her neck, laying a trail along her neck and down to her collarbones, tasting the skin there before licking a line down between Randi's breasts.
“I don't have the body of a seventeen year old anymore,” Randi reminded, a part of her worried that Canton wouldn't find the mother she'd become as attractive as the girl she'd been.
“Thank god,” Canton responding, finding one of Randi's breasts with her tongue.
Randi's amused grin was quickly wiped from her face, replaced with closed eyes and an opened mouth. “ Canton ,” she whimpered, hands finding the back of Canton 's head.
Canton took Randi's rigid nipple into her mouth, her mind swept back twenty years and endless life experiences before. Though she could still see the girl of so long ago in her mind's eye, she was firmly with the mature woman she was making love to now. Her other hand came up to cup Randi's other breast as she continued to suckle the first, laving it with her tongue and deep passion.
Randi's own mind was traveling to another time: What if she'd never married? What if she and Canton had remained together and had been for the past twenty years? What if Blake was the child they'd shared together; had together; raised together? What if she hadn't witnessed the killing of Blake's father mere hours before?
Randi's emotions rose like a tsunami, crashing over her with exacting fierceness. The tears swept her away from the love Canton had for her, away from the moment she'd chosen with the woman she'd loved her entire life..
Canton stopped everything she was doing, stunned by the sudden turn of events. She pulled away from Randi, not sure what to do. “Randi?” she said, reaching out to touch Randi's face, only to have her touch pushed away. “I'm sorry.” She scooted away from her, frightened and deeply concerned. “What's wrong?”
Randi sat up, bringing her hands up to swipe at her tears, only for more to fall. “I can't do this,” she sobbed, pushing up from the bed and disappearing into the darkness of the bedroom.
Canton 's heart was pounding, part from her previous sexual excitement, part from her current fear. She looked into the shadows, hoping desperately that Randi would reappear, though she knew she wouldn't. Finally, she fell back onto the mattress, staring up into the dark ceiling.
Morning came and found Canton sitting in her kitchen alone, sipping a cup of coffee. She had made herself breakfast, though it sat untouched. She stared off into the distance, eyes red-rimmed from lack of sleep and random crying spells. She was startled to hear a knock on her front screen door, the big door long ago opened to let in the early morning breeze.
“Come in!” she called out, not moving a muscle. “Don't slam the door!”
The door squeaked as it was opened and then slammed shut. A penitent Blake stepping into view. He helped himself to a cup of coffee then settled across from Canton , blue eyes studying her. “You look like shit,” he said, voice unusually soft.
“Thank you,” she said, looking down at her mug, bringing it up to sip only to grimace, as it was cold. She pushed up from the chair and walked over to the coffee maker, pouring herself a fresh cup after dumping the old in the sink. “You hungry?”
“Not particularly,” Blake said, sipping from his coffee. “Where's my mom?”
“Left,” Canton explained simply, sitting back across from him, pushing her plate away. “Where's Kerry?”
“Left,” Blake said, sipping from his own mug. “Had to work.”
Canton nodded in understanding. She wished she had such a simple explanation to where Randi had gone and why. Instead, she made herself leave her own early-morning regret playground and focused on Blake and what he must be going through. “How are you doing?” she asked, her voice softening.
Blake stared into the black depths of his coffee for a long moment before responding. Finally he sighed, meeting blue eyes, curiously close the same shade as his own. “I have a lot of questions,” he said quietly. “A lot of questions. This kind of thing doesn't just happen, Canton . Does it? Some guy who was on the straight and narrow his whole life doesn't just suddenly go fucking crazy and hold his wife hostage. Does he?”
Canton sighed, no more filled with answers than he was. “I don't know, Blake. I never knew your dad.”
“But you knew my mom. Right? You knew her before she met my dad. What was she like? How did it happen?”
Canton felt her blood go cold. She wanted nothing more than to say ask your mom, kid, but knew she couldn't. She had the answers to his questions, but how much did she dare tell him? Should she tell him about the fact that she and his mother nearly had sex – twice – the night before? Not likely.
Canton sipped from her coffee and sat back in her chair, her gaze meeting his. She wanted to be honest and open with him, even as she fudged a few details: for Randi's sake. “Your mom and I were close, Blake. We met during our senior year in high school and we were close.”
“How close?” Blake pressed, pushing his mug of coffee aside. “My dad mentioned a girl my mom had been sleeping with .” He eyed her, daring her to deny his unsaid accusation.
Canton felt her palms beginning to sweat: caught. Even so, she knew she could soften the blow, as she knew Blake was trying to elude to the fact that her and Randi's relationship had interrupted the marriage of his parents. “Your dad was right. I met your mom when we were both seventeen years old. The last time I saw your mom – before I came back into town to renovate – was a few weeks before our high school graduation.”
“Even though she stayed here last night,” Blake said, pushing away from the table, nearly knocking his chair over backwards.
Canton knew she had to be careful, as he was dead right, but she knew it could be devastating to let him know that. “She left early this morning, Blake. She's not here.”
Blake stared at her, nostrils flaring with his uncertain anger. He wasn't sure who he was angry with, but it was coming out in Canton 's kitchen, as it was the only tangible element available to him. “Whatever,” he spat, storming out of the house, the screen door slamming behind him.
Canton buried her head in her hands as he heard the engine of a car turn over, tired peeling out of the gravel yard.
HOME VIDEO –
Randi lays in bed, her rounded belly swells beneath the thin white blanket that covers her gowned-body. Her head lay on the paper-covered pillow, eyes closed as she took deep breaths in, trying not to breathe out too fast.
“The doctor said Randi's dilated eight centimeters,” a disembodied voice said. Shannon 's disembodies voice. “How are you doing, honey?”
“I want it out,” Randi whined, panting as another contraction hit her. “Oh god,” she gasped, hands grasping her over-sized belly.
The picture suddenly changed in a dizzying downward motion of the image and finally going black as the camera was turned off.
Randi sat, rooted to the spot as the picture on the DVD player went blue as the footage ended. Long ago Shannon has transferred the VHS from the early 90's to DVD, as he'd loved to tinker with electronics and modern filmmaking equipment. Either way, Randi had watched the moments before she'd given birth to Blake, nothing more coming after what had been labeled as the 8 Centimeter Tape until after Blake had been born.
She had been sitting on the couch all day in the house she'd shared with Shannon and Blake, going through old video, which had stopped promptly after Blake's tenth birthday. It seemed so much more had stopped, other than just pictures and film of family events.
The sun had been peeking in through the slatted blinds for more than an hour, but Randi's exhaustion reached a level far beyond human tiredness: she was soul tired, heart tired and life confused. She pushed up from the leather couch that sat in the family room, headed to the kitchen to warm her cup of coffee when she heard a knock at the door. A glance at the clock told her it was just after seven-thirty.
Anne stood on the other side of the door, her eyes puffy and red as she fell into Randi's silent arms. They stood that way for a long time, neither sure what to say, or really needing to say anything. What had happened is what had happened: nothing need be said. At length, Randi invited her in, closing the door behind them.
“Can I get you some coffee?” she asked, her voice cold, zombie-like. She wasn't entirely sure what was keeping her going, but whatever it was, it kept her upright.
“Sure,” Anne said, keeping a careful eye on Randi as she took a seat at the kitchen table that she knew very well. For the first time in her friendship with Randi, she wasn't sure what to say. What does one say in a situation like this? Gee, sorry your husband whacked himself right after he tried to whack you. Got any sugar for my coffee? She accepted the coffee that was placed before her, as well as the sugar bowl and canister of creamer.
Randi sat across from her, her hands cupped around the fresh cup she'd poured for herself. She stared at her oldest friend with dead eyes: partly from lack of sleep and partly from shock and truths, which had begun to set in.
“How are you?” Anne asked quietly.
Randi shrugged. “I'm still here,” she murmured, nodding to the bandage wrapped around her bicep. “Guess that's a lot, considering.”
“Sure,” Anne said, a forced smile on her lips. She cupped her hands around the hot cup of coffee, but in truth, she didn't want it. She was in deep shock from what she'd heard on the news, and then later from Randi's own lips over the phone as she drove to Canton 's house the night before. Anne would be lying if she said she wasn't shocked at the destination, but felt it wasn't her place to say anything or ask questions. That being said, she was surprised when she'd called Blake's phone – Randi's turned off – to find out Randi had gone home.
“I was just watching some old videos,” Randi said, staring off into a place Anne couldn't join her in. “Reminiscing, I guess.”
“I guess I just want to know how you are. What are you thinking and where do you go from here?”
Randi was silent for a long moment, contemplating Anne's words. “How I am,” she repeated, her voice hollow and quiet. “I'm sad. I'm confused and I'm relieved.” She finally met Anne's gaze, which nearly had Anne in tears, as there was no life in the recently-alive green eyes. “How should I be? Should I be the grieving widow? Sad that my husband is dead? Sad that he tried to kill me and take our son emotionally with him by putting Blake on the phone? Making him listen as his father was shot through the heart by the police? Should I grieve for him, Anne? Should I be elated? Should I be tarred and feathered, tattooed with a big red letter ‘A' on my chest?”
Anne was stunned, not sure what to say. “Randi, I was just asking-“
“I know you were, Anne, and you're asking the same questions everyone else will ask, or at least will be thinking. What should I say? You were there: you've been there since day one: which explanation matches the best? Shannon and I meeting you guys to play cards, or Shannon and I fighting, him hitting me and me taking it? Me thinking it was my lot in life as I'd cheated on him once, and so deserved whatever he had to deal out, because he likely knew.”
Anne was stunned, never seeing her friend like she was at the moment. “Randi-“
“What, Anne? Didn't you know that I fucked Canton the night before I got pregnant with Blake? I'm sure I told you that part, too.” Randi leaned forward, eyes boring into Anne, almost the eyes of a crazy woman. “To be honest, I think Shannon always knew somehow. I think he's been trying to be a ghost this entire marriage, Anne.” Randi sipped from her coffee, chuckling lightly. “The ghost of Canton .”
“Where you stayed last night,” Anne said softly, a statement.
Randi met her gaze, nodding slowly. “Yes. I wanted her, Anne. I wanted her to love me to make me forget everything.” She laughed bitterly, pushing her coffee cup away. “God, how stupid of me.”
Anne moved from her chair to the one next to Randi's. Despite Randi's bitter bravado, she could see she was about to fall apart. “What happened, Randi?”
“I can't forget,” Randi sobbed, falling into her friend's arms. “I can't. I can't forget that I had a life before, and I can't forget how it ended.”
Anne held her tight, eyes closed as she fought her own emotions. “Maybe you're not meant to, Randi,” she offered, caressing Randi's back. “Maybe you're not meant to.”
“I pushed him to do it.”
“No, sweetie, you didn't.” Anne didn't try and fight Randi's words anymore than that, as she knew in her gut that at this point, she wouldn't be able to. Randi was grieving, and nothing anyone said would help or assuage or perceived guilt or part in what had happened. “You are loved, Randi,” she said instead. “You are very loved.”
“I don't deserve to be,” Randi whispered into the hug, her tears coming yet again full force. She was so tired of crying.
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