Disclaimers: Mine.

Sex: Silly goose. Of course!

WARNING: I do NOT give my permission for this story to be re-posted anywhere with change in character names, storyline or title. Parasite writers beware.

Note: This story may contain some violence, but nothing graphic.

If you'd like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com.

Hope you like it Wendy!

Force of Nature


Kim Pritekel

Part 1

The night sky was aglow from the blaze, a beautiful sight if it wasn't so wrong. She stood there, mesmerized and rooted to the spot. She could feel the heat on her face, feeling as though her blonde hair could actually be singed. About to turn away as she heard sirens in the distance, she stopped, frozen in terror when she heard it.

A scream from inside the blaze…

Kyle Watson cried out as the scream followed her into wakefulness, still echoing in her head. She sat up in bed, the thin blanket and scratchy sheet falling to the floor with the sudden movement. Taking several deep breaths, Kyle looked around, able to see the pod lights filter in slightly around the edges of the piece of paper she had taped to the eight by six window in her cell door. Her chest was heaving, her brain whirling.

Deciding to give up on sleep, she pushed to her feet, padding across the cold cement floor to the toilet-sink combination thing made of stainless steel and ran some cold water, splashing it onto her face. She swore she could still feel the heat from the fire on her skin. Looking at her reflection in the safety-glass mirror above it, she let out a deep breath. Dull green eyes stared back at her, their light and life dimming over the past eight and a half years that she'd been a resident of DWCF: Denver Women's Correctional Facility.

Running her hands through short hair, Kyle turned and faced the small space that was hers and hers alone: about the only thing she truly had to herself at DWCF, as she'd pretty much lost everything else: her freedom, her dignity and much of her self-worth. With a heavy sigh, she flicked on her reading light and began to bitter/sweet task of removing her artwork from the walls - a talent she hadn't known she possessed until she'd grown bored out of her mind during her frequent visits to The Hole during the early years - and carefully placed them on her bed. She had been given a state-issued duffel bag the night before to pack her items away in. The items she'd come in with, and had been stored in Property for all these years, would be returned to her upon her release in - she glanced at the clock on the wall - four hours and thirteen minutes.

Kyle knew sleep wouldn't be coming back. Since she'd found out a month ago what her release date would be, the dreams - more like nightmares - had returned in full force. Rather than face torturous memories in sleep, she'd rather face an uncertain future in her present.


Dressed in street clothes for the first time since her last court appearance, Kyle held onto her personal belongings - so few they were - and made the long, escorted walk towards barbed wire gate, which she'd been staring at and hating for nearly nine years. On the other side she could see her father's old Ford, and his rigid saintly self standing next to it, hands clasped in front of him. Seeing him there, a part of her wanted to beg the corrections officer to take her back inside with him. Instead, she took a deep breath and forced her face to be as stony and expressionless as Robert Watson's was.

"Hello, Dad," she said, standing a couple feet away from the graying man. She heard the gate close behind her with a clang of finality.

"Kyle," he acknowledged. He looked her over with disapproving eyes then took her load from her, placing it in the trunk, their greeting effectively ended.

Kyle sat in the front seat, hands resting in her lap. She knew she should be happy about her nightmare finally ending, but somehow she couldn't find it in her heart to be so. She knew she had nothing to look forward to: no job, no home of her own and certainly no love and support from her parents. Her morose thoughts were interrupted by the hard edge of her father's voice.

"I hear many criminals find God while locked up behind bars." He glanced over at the youngest of his two children, and only daughter. "I certainly hope that is true for you."

"I've done the best I can, Dad," Kyle said quietly, her gaze fixed to the passing outside scenery, wish she was out there amongst it.

Dinner was served and the family of three sat around the dining room table in all its righteous accouterments. Kyle's gaze bounced from one religious statue or picture to the next. It seemed there were even more than she remembered. Granted, she hadn't been in her mother's house in ten years.

"Your bedroom is set up for you, Kyle," Ruth Watson said, her gaze never meeting her daughter's, who so closely matched her own. "However, if you are to stay here, there will be rules you must follow."

Here we go. "And what's that?" Kyle asked, cutting her steak into smaller pieces.

"Such as I will have no drugs or alcohol in this house. God forbids it, and so do I. Secondly, there will be no motorcycles and no Mason."

Kyle's head shot up at that. "I'm not allowed to see my brother?"

"He walks with the Devil, Kyle," Robert piped up, stirring a bit of cream into his coffee. "He's responsible for your stay in prison all these years."

"I did that to myself, Dad," Kyle said, her anger beginning to rise. Mason Watson was the most prized person in her life, and the only one in her family that seemed to understand her.

"That may be so, but without his evil influence it never would have happened," Ruth said. "Starting tomorrow you will become a proper Christian woman. You're thirty years old now, Kyle and I won't have you gallivanting around, looking like a teenaged boy. You will grow that hair out, dress like a proper young woman and clean up your life."

Kyle lay on her back in bed, staring up at the shadow-ridden ceiling. She was back in her childhood bedroom, a space filled with so many conflicting memories for her. She felt so alone and terribly lost, and craved the assurance and love from her brother. She'd made all the promises in the world to her mother, but in her heart, she knew she couldn't uphold a single one of them. She just wasn't the little girl her parents had wanted her to be, nor would she ever be.

Making a decision, Kyle pushed the covers off her body and quickly dressed in the one outfit she owned: baggy jeans and an even baggier sweatshirt, then gathered the few things she cared to take with her. She scribbled a quick note and left it on her unmade bed.

Kyle felt like a teenager again as she pushed open her second-story window, carefully climbing out and clinging for dear life to the drain pipe that ran down the house. She wasn't nearly as agile as she'd been at twenty-two, but still managed to shimmy down until she could safely hop down, her feet landing on the green grass below. With one final look to the white two-story, she ran off, disappearing into the darkness.


The house was rowdy as the gang began to show up: loud music coming through the speakers and cold beer packed in the cooler. Mason Watson tugged on his leather vest, no shirt underneath and joined the party. His wife Martha met him with a cold beer and sloppy kiss.

"Hey sexy beast," she purred, loving the sight of her husband in his leathers, which he didn't wear nearly as often anymore.

Mason grinned. "Hey, yourself." He grabbed Martha's ass and squeezed, promising things to come after the party was over.

"Digger is here," she announced, turning in her husband's embrace and rubbing her ass against his crotch before grinning devilishly at him over her shoulder and hurrying back to the party before he could grab her and make a real woman out of her.

Mason joined his wife and friends, including his best friend Digger, who he'd known since they were nine years old. "Digger!" Him and the large, bearded man shared a hearty hug and clink of their beer cans. Mason drained his first and was about to grab a second when the doorbell chimed.

"Prob'bly someone callin' the damn cops," Digger laughed.

"No shit." Mason walked over to the door and tugged it open, expectant party goers standing behind him.

Time stopped for Mason Watson as he looked into the eyes of his beloved Kyle, who stood on the porch, a small knapsack in her hand and uncertainty in her eyes.

"Holy Jesus," he whispered, nearly knocking the screen door off its hinges to get to her. "Kyle!" he cried, grabbing her up into a painful hug, which lifted her off her feet.

Kyle clung to him, tears falling down her cheeks and her world righting itself for the first time in nine years. "I've missed you so much," she cried into his neck.

Mason's own eyes welled as he set Kyle back down on her feet, holding her by the shoulders so he could look at her. "My god, Kyle. What are you doing here?"

"I got out today," Kyle said, swiping at her eyes with her sleeve.

"Why didn't you tell me?!" he bellowed.

"Mason, stop," Martha said, a hand on his arm. She gently pushed him away from Kyle and then took the blonde into her arms. "Oh Kyle," she breathed, holding her sister-in-law tight. "It's so good to see you."

"Hey, Martha," Kyle whispered, hugging Martha just as tight. Mason was five years older than Kyle and Martha was three years older than him. She'd been the only mother-type figure Kyle had ever had in her life.

"Party's over, guys!" Mason yelled, walking back into the house. "My baby sister's home!"

Kyle and Mason sat at the kitchen table, Martha long since gone to bed. They each had a mug of strong coffee in front of them, Mason still unable to believe his little sis was actually sitting across from him.

"So what's your plan then?" Mason asked, hearing about the debacle at their parents' house.

Kyle sighed, sipping from her mug. "I honestly don't know, Mason. Truthfully, I just want to start over somewhere else. I don't want to be here anymore. I can't live this life anymore." She indicated Mason's leather vest, which bared the colors of the biker gang he'd belonged to for more than fifteen years. "That's what got me in trouble in the first place, bro."

"I know," Mason said, his voice soft and filled with profound sorrow. "I'm sorry I ever introduced you to it." He sighed, lighting a cigarette, offering one to his sister, which she rejected. "You quit?"

"You can't very well continue to be a smoker in the CDOC when smoking was outlawed in any Colorado 'correctional facility', now can you?" Kyle grinned.

Mason chuckled. "Must have started that law before I did my time." He held up the smoke, a brow raised. "Okay if I do?"

"Go for it. No desire to return to it," Kyle said, waving off the concern. "It just smells like shit to me now."

"Sorry," Mason said, lighting up. He took in a drag then blew out the smoke. "So, what gives? Where will you go?"

"My plan is to get a map and point. Where my finger lands is where I do."

"You need anything?" Mason asked, resting his cigarette hand on the table, cigarette butt aimed over the red plastic ashtray.

"You got a ride I could bum off you for a bit?"

"Hell, yeah!" Mason leaned forward, his gaze predatory. "I also got someone in mind that you can party with for awhile. I know how it is when you just get out. Can be very lonely."


Kyle climaxed for a third time in the last hour with a loud gasp, her body stiffening, back arching. "Fuck!" she cried out as Nicole managed to tongue another spasm from her core. "Okay, enough." She pushed the redhead's face away from her sex. "Enough."

Nicole climbed her way up Kyle's muscular body, grazing the skin with her breasts until she had stretched her body out atop Kyle's, taking her mouth in a hard kiss. "I gotta go, baby," she said, climbing off the bed and shrugging into her clothes. "If you ever wanna party again, call me." With a blown kiss, Nicole was gone, leaving Kyle alone in her brother's basement bedroom.


"You're getting your walking papers today, Mrs. Amsler," Nurse Jamie Johnson said, giving her favorite patient a winning smile.

"Oh, good," the feisty seventy-three year old said. "I'm sick of sittin' in this bed and wasting away like I'm some sort of old woman or something."

Jamie gave the woman an affectionate smile then returned her attention to turning off all the machines Betty Amsler had been attached to for the past two weeks since the stroke that nearly killed her. "Okay, now for the fun part." Jamie carefully pulled the tape off that had helped to stabilize the needle that had been in Betty's hand. "The dreaded IV is comin' out."


"Okay, Mrs. Amsler. You're all set." Jamie removed her latex gloze, tossing it and the used needle onto the tray she'd brought in. "The doctor will be in here shortly to explain all the dos and don'ts, which you need to listen to. Got it?" Jamie scolded.

"Yes, ma'am. I got it."

They shared a quick embrace then Jamie headed off back to make her rounds.

Jamie was exhausted as she navigated the rain-slicked streets of the small town she lived in with her five year old son, Rory. Finally she turned onto their street and into the drive of the small two-story she bought after her nasty divorce two years before. Killing the engine of her Kia Sorento, she gathered her belongings and let herself into the house, dropping off her purse, jacket and lunch bag before heading back out and across the lawn to the home of Eva Lang, the elderly woman who watched Rory for her.

As she stepped up onto the wide covered porch, she noticed an old motorcycle parked at the curb in front of the house. She'd never seen it before and wondered if maybe one of Eva's sons had come to visit.

"Knock, knock!" she called out, letting herself into the house. She heard Eva's laughter back in the kitchen and then a woman's voice. "Eva?"

"Back here, hon!" Eva called out.

"Mommy!" Rory bellowed, tearing down the stairs at breakneck speed.

"Hey, baby!" Jamie exclaimed, barely managing to stay on her feet as her son threw himself into her arms from the third stair from the bottom. "How are you?" she asked, squeezing him to her.

"Good," he grinned, pushing away from her to let her know he wanted down: greeting over. Once his tennis shoes hit the floor, he was off and running back up the stairs.

Tired from her long shift at the hospital, Jamie made her way to the kitchen where Eva sat at the table across from a woman with short blonde hair, wearing a white tank top and jeans with the knees ripped out. They both had mugs of steaming coffee sitting in front of them.

"Jamie, this is Kyle. She's thinking about renting that room upstairs."

Kyle looked at the woman Eva had explained was her neighbor, Jamie and was struck dumb. Jamie had to be the most beautiful woman Kyle had ever laid eyes on. The piercing blue of Jamie's eyes met her gaze, and Kyle was unable to look away. She could feel the energy in the room change - not for the good - as she knew she was making Jamie uncomfortable with her stare, but she wasn't able to look away.

Jamie, for her part felt herself becoming intensely irritated by the unwanted study. "Nice to meet you, Kyle," she said, her voice cold and filled with warning.

"You, too," Kyle said, feeling the chill. She quickly looked away, a slight shiver passing down her spine. She was amazed at the venom that woman could shoot from those baby blues.

"How was Rory today, Eva?" Jamie asked, turning her attention away from the obnoxious blonde.

"Oh, he was fine. You're gonna have a energetic little guy tonight, though. With the cold rain he was stuck inside. No way I was gonna chance him getting sick."

"Okay, good," Jamie blew out, her exhaustion from a long day on her feet beginning to get to her.

"You look like you're about to fall asleep on your feet, honey," Eva said, brows drawn in disapproval. She grunted slightly as she pushed to her feet and walked over to the brunette. "I've just about got dinner ready. Why don't you and Rory stay and eat with me?"

"Thanks Eva, but I just want to get home and into a nice hot bath."

As the two women talked, Kyle's eyes found their way back to Jamie. She scanned over the woman's body, noting the large breasts that were hugged by the t-shirt she wore. Her scrub pants made it difficult to get any idea of what her legs or ass looked like, but Kyle didn't care. What she could see was just fine and dandy with her. Dayum!

Jamie gave Eva a hug then glanced over at the woman who still sat at the table and sure enough, her eyes were all over Jamie's body. "It was nice meeting you," she said, her voice deadly calm.

Startled out of her perusal, Kyle met the death stare aimed right at her. "You, too." Kyle felt like a real asshole as Jamie left the room, followed by Eva. She scrubbed at her face with the heels of her hands. After a long moment, she heard Eva return to the kitchen and her stomach lurched, expecting to be tossed out on her ear for her behavior.

"Sorry about that, Kyle," Eva said, lowering her old, arthritic body down into the chair she'd been sitting in before. "Jamie is such a sweet girl." She shook her head, clucking her tongue sadly. "Hard life: she went through a nasty divorce a few years back and been trying to raise her little boy all on her own."

Kyle felt even more like an asshole. "Wow," she said, sipping from her coffee. "That's too bad."

"Damn men," Eva muttered, shaking her head again. "Never did have much use for 'em."

Kyle's head shot up, eyes wide with surprise. She chuckled as realization dawned. "Eva, you surprise me."

Eva smiled: though she had a roadmap of wrinkles on her face, Kyle could easily see the feisty young woman she once was in her blue eyes. "I surprise most my dear." She covered Kyle's hand with one of her own, giving it a quick squeeze before pushing noisily up to her feet again. "Come on. Let me show you the room."


Kyle sat on the twin-sized bed, which squeaked under her weight when she moved. The bedroom was medium-sized, with its own bathroom. One large window allowed the evening breeze - which smelled of more rain - to waft through. The walls were covered with an ancient print of faded yellow flowers and green vine stripes. Regardless of how old and scarred the furniture was, of how worn the carpeting beneath her feet was, or how much the room smelled of moth balls, Kyle couldn't be happier.

She stood from the bed and walked over to the window, pushing the filmy curtains aside to look out at the night. The house next door - Jamie's house - was a mere fifteen feet away from Eva's on that side and a dark window greeted Kyle's gaze. She let the curtains fall back into place and turned back to her new room to unpack her few belongings.


Jamie was glad to finally be headed to bed. She was tired and irritable: her feet hurt, her back hurt and Rory had been a handful to get fed and ready for his visit with his grandparents. With the cold weather beginning to move in as autumn came, he hadn't had been able to run off his immense amount of energy outside as much, instead stuck inside playing. But, he was spending the night with her parents tonight, and she knew her dad would take him out over the weekend as they did their "man" things. She was just grateful that she had the following day off.

She flicked on her bedroom light and closed the door, tugging her t-shirt off as she walked deeper into the room. She was about to unhook her bra when she noticed the light was on in the room across the way at Eva's.

"Shit," she muttered, irritated as she grabbed her t-shirt and quickly tugged it on again.

She made her way over to her own window, her hand on the rod to close the blinds when she stopped, curious. She'd seen the blonde woman's motorcycle parked in Eva's driveway for the past week, so assumed she'd taken the room for rent, but hadn't seen the woman again since their first meeting in Eva's kitchen.

Standing at the window, she looked across the short distance and found herself looking into the bedroom of Eva's new tenant, whom for the life of her, she couldn't remember her name. But, as she looked on, she saw her, dressed in only a tank top and silk boxers. Jamie was only able to see her from behind, as the blonde's back was to her, but Jamie could see she was painting. The distance was close but not quite close enough for her to be able to make out what was on the canvas.

Jamie's gaze left the artwork and instead focused on the blonde's back: she had a petit build but a muscular frame. As she watched, Jamie could see the muscle in the blonde's shoulders and upper back flex and reflex with every movement as she focused on her painting. Jamie couldn't help but admire the woman's shape and physique. Even so, she remembered their first and only meeting, and she felt instant anger build.

Jamie closed the blinds with finality and undressed, the anger lingering. She'd never felt so much like she was being eaten alive by someone's gaze as she had in Eva's kitchen. Who the hell did that woman think she was? Did she truly think it was okay to be so rude and inconsiderate? Obviously a lesbian, did she think it was alright to push her sexuality onto someone else? Finding someone attractive was one thing: hell, even Jamie had to admit the blonde woman had amazingly beautiful green eyes and a body that any woman would die for, but still….

Jamie tugged on the oversized t-shirt she slept in and pulled back the covers, flicking off the overhead light before quickly burying herself under the heft of the quilt Eva had made for her, as it was a chilly night. When Rory wasn't around, she kept the heat low to save on utility bills. She got herself comfortable then returned her thoughts to her first meeting with Eva's tenant. She hadn't been so openly appraised in a very long time, which was fine with her. Since her experience with Rory's dad, she had kept herself to herself. She had no need for love - or what Joel had considered love - and certainly no need for sex. Life with Joel Johnson had been difficult at best and downright terrifying at worst.

The blonde next door could go screw herself for all Jamie cared. She wanted no part of anything she had to offer. Wrapped in her protective shell, Jamie closed her eyes and fell into a deep sleep.


Kyle sat astride the 1983 Harley-Davidson FXRS 1340 Low Glide that her brother had given her as a "welcome home" gift. It was a gorgeous bike, but it had engine issues, which she had been working on for the past two days. The bike sat in Eva's driveway, grease-covered tools scattered on the blue tarp that was spread out under the bike. She caressed the throttle, listening as the engine revved, trying to pinpoint the problem. About to cut the engine, she was startled by a sudden voice.

"Excuse me!"

She turned to see Eva's neighbor, Jamie standing three feet away, arms crossed over her chest. Her hair was a disheveled mess all over her head, her body wrapped in a terry cloth robe. Kyle was stunned by the venom she saw in the cold depths of Jamie's eyes. She quickly cut the engine.

"Do you have any idea what time it is?" Jamie demanded.

Kyle knew it was nearly ten, but decided it was best to keep her mouth shut. "I'm sorry, was I bothering you?" she asked, keeping her voice friendly and apologetic.

"Yes, you were bothering me. I have one damn day off this week, and the last thing I want is to be awakened by the sound of you tinkering with your motorcycle!"

Kyle balanced the bike as she stood, kicking the stand down. She gently rested the bike to lean on it before bringing her leg over the seat to stand. She faced Jamie, trying to keep her own anger down. "I'm sorry I disturbed you," she said quietly. "I need to fix my bike, so if you could tell me when would be a better time, I'd appreciate it."

Jamie wanted to continue with her anger, but knew she had no right to. The woman was being more than polite, but Jamie wasn't quite ready to give her that much credit quite yet. She'd caught the green eyes traveling to her breasts a couple times in the few moments they'd been speaking. Jamie brought her arms up a bit higher, blocking the view. "My suggestion would be when people aren't trying to sleep."

Kyle bit the inside of her cheek so she wouldn't go off on the bitchy brunette. She took a deep breath and cocked her head to the side, studying the woman. "Look, I'm not exactly privy to your sleeping habits and time schedule. Most people are up and about by ten o'clock in the morning, so I assumed you were, too. However, I realize assumption isn't always the best route, so I'm asking you now: what time is good for you?"

Jamie was taken aback. She stood to her full height, stubborn anger making her body stiff and her walls slam fully into place. "Given that sort of offer, I'd say never."

Kyle raised a brow. "Really?"

Jamie knew at this point that this could turn into an all out altercation, which she wasn't in the mood for, and in truth, had no right to cause. "Do what you want," she muttered, turning to head back across her lawn to her front door. "Just be considerate about it."

Kyle watched her go, truly stunned. "What a bitch!"

She turned back to her bike and considered starting it up again, just to piss off the brunette, but decided against it. She didn't want to cause problems for Eva, so instead she cleaned up her mess and went inside.

"How did it go?" Eva asked, putting the finishing touches on the pie she'd been working on.

"That woman," Kyle growled, pouring herself a cup of coffee. "What the hell is her problem, Eva?"

"What woman would that be?" Eva asked, sliding the pie into the pre-heated oven.

"Your neighbor!" Kyle flopped down in a kitchen chair, running a hand through her hair, too late to remember she hadn't washed the grease from her fingers yet. "Damn," she muttered, hurrying over to the sink to do just that.

"You look like a skunk in reverse," Eva laughed, pouring her own cup of coffee and settling across from Kyle's chair. "If you're asking about Jamie, I'd have to say a hard life is what her problem is."

"We've all had our problems, Eva," Kyle said, trying to pick the largest bit of goop out of her hair. "That's not an excuse to be a bitch." She sat down, giving up on the mess for now.

"She's a single mom trying to raise her child the best she can, without the help of that asshole who donated a bit of DNA. She's got a good heart, Kyle. A real, real good heart. I just don't think she's got a whole lotta happiness in her life."

"That's obvious," Kyle muttered, sipping from her coffee.

Eva studied her new tenant for a long moment, so long Kyle began to shift uncomfortably in her seat. "Tell me your story, Kyle."

Kyle froze for a moment, not sure what to say. She'd kept much of her past from Eva, only telling her what was necessary. She met the curious and kind blue eyes. "What do you want to know?"

"Where are you from? Are you close to your family? Where did you learn to work on cars the way you do? Frank down at the garage said you're doing a wonderful job for him."

"Yeah, about that: thanks again for helping me find that job. Frank's great."

"Good! Now answer the question."

Kyle smiled, amused that Eva caught on to her topic change attempt. She considered the request and thought about how much she should divulge. Her gut told her Eva wouldn't judge her, but she was still afraid and deeply ashamed. "Alright, Eva. I'll tell you my story." She sighed heavily, unable to look at the older woman, whom she'd come to greatly respect.

"You look worried," Eva observed, sitting back in her chair.

"I am a little, I guess. It's not pretty." She let out a long sigh then began her tale. "My parents always thought more of God and their church than they did of their children. My older brother Mason eventually found his way into trouble, even doing time when he was seventeen for robbery. He got hooked up with a biker gang. His very impressionable little sister - that would be me - saw what he was doing and thought it looked fun. I got involved and then got in over my head."

Eva studied her for a long moment when the story didn't continue. She reached a hand out, covering one of Kyle's. "What happened, honey?" she asked softly.

Kyle took a deep breath, her emotions riding just beneath the surface. She let out the breath and got up on the pretense of topping her coffee off with fresh to warm it, but in truth, she couldn't face Eva as she told her story.

"I was brought into the gang as a bit of a grunt, I suppose. Certainly someone low on the totem pole. I refused to be some biker's bitch and they refused to allow me full rights, so I took what they gave me." She rested her hands on the counter after she set her mug down on the tiled top. She looked off into her past, her voice growing quiet. "I was asked to do something that I never should have done. See, there was a rival biker gang in the same town, and supposedly one of them had really pissed off our chapter leader. I was told the guy was out of town, so I was to set fire to his house: vengeance for stepping on our turf, as well as a lesson for the other gang."

Eva turned in her chair, studying Kyle's back as the young woman told her story. Her heart ached for the sorrow that seemed to come off Kyle in waves. She had a bad feeling about what she'd hear next.

"Turns out he wasn't out of town after all," Kyle finally said, turning and leaning back against the counter, sad green eyes meeting sympathetic blue. "I served nearly nine years in prison, Eva. The only reason I got that little time is because I helped the D.A.'s office get the guys who ordered me to do it. Plea deal."

Eva nodded, pushing to her feet. She walked over to Kyle and took her in a warm, motherly embrace. "We all make our mistakes, honey," she said into the hug. "I know you're worried I'll toss you out of here or judge you." She pulled back from the hug just enough to look into Kyle's haunted eyes. "I think you're judging yourself enough for everyone."

Kyle smiled, relieved to have the truth out. "Yeah. Somehow I don't think that'll ever go away."

"And perhaps it shouldn't. Perhaps that sense of guilt and self-judgment will keep you on the right path, which you seem to be on. You've got a place to live, a job you're doing a marvelous job with and a new town." Eva smiled at her. "The world can be yours to explore if you'll just step through the door that's been opened for you."

Kyle grabbed Eva and gave her a nearly painful hug. "Thank you," she whispered.

Eva smiled, rubbing soothing circles on the young woman's back. She placed a motherly kiss on her cheek and pulled out of the hug. "Now, this pie will be done soon so go on into the sitting room and grab the pie bag so I can take this to my ladies function without a blueberry stain in my car."

Kyle laughed and left the room, heading to the small room at the front of the house that Eva used to knit. Kyle hadn't spent a great deal of time in this room, only stopping by to tell Eva good night. But now, as she walked in - immediately spying the hard plastic pie container covered in blue material - she bypassed it and headed for the fireplace, her gaze locked on the framed pictures that lined the mantel.

One picture in particular caught Kyle's eye: it was an old picture, the style of dress on the two absolutely beautiful women in the picture looked to be from the 1940s. They each had an arm wrapped around the other, their heads resting together and the most beautiful smiles on their faces. As she studied the picture, her gaze moved from the woman with blonde hair to the one with dark hair. One look in those smiling blue eyes and she knew she was looking into the past, a young vibrant Eva looking back at her.

"I see you've found my Grace," Eva said softly, moving up behind Kyle, a sad smile gracing her lips as she looked down at the picture Kyle held. "That was such a wonderful day."

Kyle could hear the wistfulness in Eva's voice. "Was this your girlfriend?"

Eva slowly lowered herself into her armchair. "Grace was my partner for sixty-two years."

Kyle sat down on the ottoman in front of the chair, the picture still held in her hands. "Sixty-two years," she whispered. "Whoa."

"Have you ever been in love, Kyle?"

Kyle snorted, shaking her head. "No way."

"What, is love not good enough for you?" Eva asked, brow raised in challenge.

"No, I'd say I'm not good enough for love," Kyle retorted. "It's just never been something I've mastered, I guess."

"It takes a very strong woman to love another woman. You gals today have it pretty cushy from we had. Grace and I met in 1944, Kyle. We lived as 'sisters' for forty years before we were able to be honest about who we were."

Kyle could only stare, her mouth open. "My god." For just a moment, she wondered if she was throwing away the gift she'd been given: living in a time where being true to yourself didn't come with a price. She looked into Eva's eyes, able to see the sadness of the loss of someone who was obviously so very dear to her. "I don't know if love is for me, Eva," she said softly. "I honestly don't think I have much to give."

Eva smiled, reaching across the couple feet that separated them. She gently cupped Kyle's cheek. "You're such a lovely girl," she said with a smile. "Don't sell yourself short." Eva grabbed the pie bag, bringing it into her lap. "Ah! You found my pie bag." She began to stand, grateful as Kyle helped her to her feet. "Come on, honey. Lemme show you how to really bake a pie."


Jamie closed the dishwasher and turned it on, the machine whooshing to life. Taking one last look around the kitchen, she was satisfied that everything was as it should be, her dinner mess cleaned up and put away. With a tired sigh, she ran a hand through her hair, pushing it away from her face as she left the kitchen, hitting the light as she went. It was a cold night and she was grateful to have a fireplace in her bedroom, as she could not afford to turn the heat up. The moment Rory had left with her father, she had grudgingly walked over to the thermostat and turned down the heat. As a single mother, with no financial help from Rory's father in any way, she'd learned tricks of the trade of frugalness.

She made sure the first floor was locked up tight and all lights turned off before making her way up the narrow, creaky stairs. As she made her way down the hall to her bedroom, she couldn't help but stop outside Rory's bedroom and peek in. Though on one level it was nice to have some relaxing time to herself, she missed her little boy desperately. She couldn't very tell her parents they couldn't have him for the weekend, but she had wanted to. With her demanding work schedule - as well as all the extra hours she took on for the overtime pay - she didn't get as much time with Rory as she wanted, as well as when they were home together, she was usually tired and not hugely approachable.

Jamie squatted in front of the small, tiled fireplace and inserted a quick burn log into it, making sure the fire was going before she set the grate in front of the fireplace and pushed to her feet. As she was about to tug her sweater over her head she heard the sound of a motorcycle starting. Walking to the window, she glanced out towards the front of the house, just barely able to see the blonde's motorcycle pull out into the cold night.

Jamie watched until the taillight disappeared, then closed the blinds and undressed. Naked, she decided to climb under the covers, not having to worry about a five year old running into the room in the morning. As she lay there, the book she'd grabbed off the nightstand lying on the covers next to her, she rested her head against the stacked pillows and began to think. She knew she owed Eva's tenant an apology, as she'd been unreasonably bitchy that morning. What was it about her that put Jamie so on edge? It was almost like an energy clash or something.

She grabbed her book, finding her marked place. "She's not worth my thoughts," Jamie muttered, settling in to read.


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