DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you to Ann for the beta.
SPOILERS: Up to and including June 2012.
FEEDBACK: To ralst31[at]yahoo.co.uk
Starting from Scratch
A broken leg was nothing compared to a broken heart, but that didn't stop the damn thing from itching like hell, and despite all her best efforts, Nicole just couldn't scratch that particular itch. "It's driving me crazy!" She slipped the pencil in-between her skin and its plastered prison, but no matter how she tried, she just couldn't reach that one spot that would bring her relief.
"Hey, girl, any more of that, and I'll have to confiscate your pen." Vinnie attempted to snatch the implement from Nicole's hand, but she was far too quick for him and not above taking her bad mood out on her friend, as evidenced by the smack across the knuckles she inflicted as punishment.
"It's a pencil."
The correction so perfectly coincided with the sound of pencil hitting flesh that Vinnie was unsure if he was being chastised for misnaming it a pen or for attempting to remove it from Nicole's hand. "I stand corrected." Not being a stupid man, Vinnie knew there was more to Nicole's irritation than an itch, but the same smarts that were telling him to look for an ulterior motive were also flashing warning lights should he be silly enough to probe that particular danger area. "Lana or Maia?" Not that he let a little danger get in the way of some good gossip.
"What?" The look of absolute irritation was a warning that most would have taken to heart, but Nicole knew it would take more than that to ward off her nosy flatmate. "Shouldn't you be at work?"
Vinnie ignored her. "Which one of them is putting you in such a stinker of a mood?" Since the Jeffries had rolled back into town, there had been a constant back and forth between Nicole's infatuation with Lana and Maia and, not that he'd tell anyone, he'd kind of lost track. Nicole had insisted that Maia was in the past, never to be repeated, but he'd caught the looks she'd sent the eldest Jeffries girl and they were proof positive that things were far from over. Then there was Lana, his other flatty, who seemed to pop in and out of Nicole's love life like some kind of demented rabbit. He loved Lana, he really did, but gay-panic or not, she was starting to drive him mad with her indecision, so he couldn't even imagine what it was doing to Nicole.
"I'm not in a bad mood." It was the itch and nothing but the itch, Nicole told herself, and then repeated on a loop inside her head until she just about started to believe it. "It's Maia!" The pencil went hurling across the room and narrowly missed decapitating one of TK and Roimata's trinkets. "She breezes into town, tells me she loves me, and then steps aside like some latter-day knight in shining armour the minute I tell her about Lana!"
"The selfish cow?" Doubt and confusion saturated his words, but Vinnie did his best to look supportive. "Did you want her to fight for you?" Any man who professed to understand women was lying, as far as Vinnie was concerned, and if one so much as dared to imagine he understood women who loved women, he was insane.
"No!" She'd thought she'd wanted Lana. Had wanted Lana. But it had turned out to be the kind of want that flowers quickly and then dies. She still cared about Lana, was attracted to her even, but she knew that the moment when attraction could have turned to love had come and gone and there would be no getting it back. With Maia, it was different. It always had been. Not that theirs had been a fairytale romance, but there was something about her nanna of an ex that had always kept her coming back for more. "I thought I was over her."
Vinnie opened his arms as the sobs began to wrack Nicole's slight frame, his words of comfort doing little to dampen the pain of her ruined love.
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