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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Part VIII: In Love There Is No Proper Direction
Our objectives yesterday: shopping, dinner, dancing. With a twist. After all, this is San Francisco.
Kerry blushed, Kerry gaped, Kerry perused, Kerry asked questions and then Kerry bought two-hundred and thirty-two dollars and seventeen cents worth of "products" from that delightful little store on Valencia Street. I started to sweat when she informed me that I would be required to join her in vigorously testing each and every item, repeatedly, after we got home. I promptly dragged her to the car, drove to an empty parking lot a few blocks away and shagged her in the backseat. I was feeling pretty smug until I noticed her expression. It occurred to me that shagging in the backseat might have been her objective from the moment we entered the store.
She ordered sangria and tapas in perfect Spanish, replete with Costa Rican dialect. The chef, an attractive dyke of course, came out of the kitchen to give her the once over. I leaned across the table and laid the most erotic kiss on Kerry that I could manage. We frantically headed for the bathroom before the food was served so I guess it worked.
I can't even wrap my mind around our time at the club. I guess it is possible to have sex in a public place while still fully clothed.
We rolled back to my place around three am, made it to bed by four and finally fell asleep some time after seven.
I wake up at three in the afternoon to an empty bed and a note stuck to my refrigerator door.
Thank you for a lovely day and night together. I love you. Phone work and tell them you'll be back on Monday. It's time to return to real life, my love. Please call me later tonight, maybe we can meet for dinner?
Granted, I had been the one to warm to the idea of Kerry staying in a hotel. Not because I didn't want her at my place; quite the opposite, I wanted her to stay and never leave. But after our first night together, I realized that wouldn't happen if we fell right back into awesome, mind-blowing, no-holds-barred sex.
We'd spent the last few weeks "dating", getting to know each other all over again. Finding out that I was probably allergic to chocolate; discovering her aversion to left-hand turns; realizing that much of what had gone wrong the first time was her excruciating reticence to open herself to anyone, not just a woman. Not just me. We'd also talked about my finely-honed instinct to run instead of discuss. 'A fascinating character trait in a psychiatrist,' in Kerry's words.
And we'd had sex, lots and lots of it.
But now it's time to be a grownup again. Well maybe not just yet.
I shuffle back to bed and pull the covers up under my chin. I fall asleep dreaming of Kerry.
The next time I wake it is 9:30pm. The loft is dark, extremely cold and it is raining outside. I do not want to remove myself from this bed, not even to turn up the heat. I don't want to go back to work. I don't want to do anything except hide out here, preferably with Kerry. I force myself to sneak an arm from under the covers, grab the phone and call her at the hotel. The desk clerk informs me that Dr. Weaver left at around seven and hasn't been back since. He also volunteers that if my name is Margo, he would be happy to pass along a message and save me the trouble of calling every half hour.
I stumble from the bed in shock. In two minutes I'm fully clothed and sitting on the couch, hands curled into fists so tight I've broken the skin. I do not bother to turn on the heat and I dispense with supper. Worry starts to gnaw at the edges of my confidence.
There's an explanation, there has to be. I frantically search my mind for some possible reason why a woman would be calling Kerry's hotel room all afternoon. Maybe it's a medical emergency back in Chicago, a patient yeah right, Legaspi, they always phone ED docs when a patient starts to head south.
Kerry and I have discussed her affair with Sandy. I am not thrilled, in fact I'm insanely jealous. Through everything that happened: our painful break-up, my fleeing Chicago, rushing back to Kerry's bedside and our eventual reconciliation, not once did it occur to me that she might have met someone else. But Kerry has let me know in word and deed that I am the only woman that haunts her. It makes no sense to fear someone who is nothing more than a figment of my possessive imagination. I am a professional in a field devoted to reason and I will be deliriously happy if Kerry never sets eyes on her again.
A sudden knock jerks me out of my reverie. I leap to my feet and race toward the door, practically wrenching the damn thing off its track in my haste to confront her.
Kerry stands before me, a gorgeous spray of flowers clutched in her hand. She is pale and tired and looks as if she's been crying. She stands mutely on the step, waiting for me to say something. I reach forward and clutch the front of her jacket, pulling her inside and shutting the door behind us. I will myself to drop the accusatory tone from my voice and concentrate on my concern.
"Kerry, where have you been? I tried calling you at the hotel but the desk clerk said you'd left hours ago."
She keeps her eyes glued to the ends of her shoes and her breathing hitches a few times. She is clearly trying not to cry. By this time, I'm scared out of my mind.
"You shouldn't just open your door when someone knocks, Kim. I could've been a murderer or a rapist or God knows who."
"Ker, who's Margo?"
She finally looks at me.
"How do you know about Margo?"
"Who is she, Ker?"
Her reply is a long time coming. Too long. I think I'm going to be sick.
"Something's come up, Kim."
My hands are starting to shake and I tuck them against me, fighting off the cold. I suddenly remember I haven't turned on the heat and I move away from her and reach for the thermostat. The furnace kicks in almost immediately and I listen to the soft rush of air in the silence between us.
"Tell me, Ker, please."
"Margo she's my Mom."
I blink and shake my head.
"You're Mom's dead, Ker, you told me--"
"My birth mother."
I close my eyes again, relief washing over me. My eyes pop open.
"God, Kerry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry. I don't know what just happened "
I trail off, watching her carefully. Her head slowly rises and when she looks at me, her expression is inexpressibly sad.
"I understand, Kim."
It is the tone of her voice, matter-of-fact and resigned, that causes my heart to lurch against my chest.
I open my arms and beckon her to me. She does not move.
"I never cheated on you, Kim."
"I know that, baby, it's not you, it's me. I'm a jealous bitch. The thought of another woman "
I move toward her and she suddenly sighs and collapses into my arms in an exhausted heap. I lead her to the couch and settle her, pulling the flowers from her nerveless fingers. I head to the kitchen and search the cupboards for a vase, hastily fill it with water and plop the arrangement in. I return to the couch and the moment I am seated she's in my arms, practically crawling into my lap. I run a hand over her hair and for the first time, realize that she's soaked.
"Christ, Ker, you're freezing, did you walk here?"
She nods into my chest.
"Come on, we need to get you out of these damp clothes."
She shakes her head and refuses to let me up off the couch.
"Kerry, I don't want you catching cold or succumbing to pneumonia. You're still recovering from a near-fatal accident."
She relents and moves to stand. I scoop her up and carry her to the bed. I am struck by how small she is, how weightless she feels in my arms. She sits on the edge of the bed and watches while I run water into the large claw foot tub. I come back and help her undress, lift her again and take her back to the tub, lowering her so her feet rest on the bath mat. She hesitates, looks up at me but I am all ready pulling my clothes off. I step into the tub and arrange myself against the back, motioning for her to join me. Only when she is safely encircled in my arms do I begin to relax.
The hot water swirls around us, rising until it is lapping at the bottom of her chin. She groans contentedly and grasps my forearms. My hand rests over her heart and I concentrate on the thrumming, steady and strong.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
There is a long silence and I let it run its course.
"I phoned her weeks ago. Asked her if she'd ever put a baby up for adoption. She vehemently denied it. I was pretty sure then that she was my birth mother but I let it go."
"She was probably scared."
"Yes, I thought so too. I phoned home and retrieved my messages when I got back to the hotel this afternoon and she'd called. I phoned her back but I got her machine so I left a message giving her my number at the hotel."
"And she called?"
"I guess, I didn't stick around to find out. I just had to get out of there so I started walking and ended up here. I stopped at a market stall on the way and bought you some flowers. I wanted to thank you for yesterday. I had such a wonderful time."
I squeeze her tightly and kiss her cheek.
"I'm sorry I worried you."
I sit up suddenly, slopping water over the sides of the tub.
"Kerry, I'm sorry I jumped to all the wrong conclusions. I don't know why I did that, I really don't. Especially after all the hard work we've been doing these past couple of weeks."
"Well, it hasn't all been hard work, Kim."
An elegant leer as she leans back to thoroughly kiss me.
"I think we both agree that things have been going pretty fabulously lately."
I nod, still swooning from the kiss.
"But it has only been a couple of weeks. I think you're still waiting for the other shoe to drop."
My voice comes out in a hoarse whisper and I have the overwhelming urge to cry.
"I'm so sorry, Ker."
"Don't be sorry. I raked you over the coals pretty thoroughly. You just need time and I need to stop expecting you to just get over it. Okay?"
"And we're running out of time."
She says it flatly, brooking no argument, and I know that this is the real reason why I came unglued earlier. In one week she will return to Chicago. We have all ready decided that she will leave County when her contract is up. It's the six months until then that terrify me but I cannot bring myself to confess my worries.
"Do you want to phone your--Margo?"
She laughs at my abrupt change of topic.
"Not right now. Right now I want you to hold me."
"And after that?"
I waggle my eyebrows, intentionally lightening the sombre mood.
That I can do.
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