DISCLAIMER: Any resemblance to real people or situations is completely coincidental and unintentional.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you to my betas, you know who you are!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To imaginus75[at]gmail.com
Riley had insisted I shower while she made breakfast after she heard my stomach roar of its hunger. She had also told me to wear whatever clothes I could find in her closet if I wanted to. So after showering, I pulled on a pair of blue jeans that fit perfectly, except for the length. She clearly had longer legs than I did, and I had to roll the legs up one fold. Then I found a black tank top and slipped it on and headed downstairs, hair still damp.
She was in the kitchen cutting up some fruit at the island, standing in her underwear and a t-shirt. I could smell freshly brewed coffee and noticed something was also cooking on the stove behind her. She looked up at me and grinned as her eyes roamed over my body. "Now I know why guys get turned on when their women wear their clothes," she said as I came up to her and placed my arms on her shoulders. She put her knife aside and wrapped her arms around my waist.
"Do you always cook in your underwear?" I teased her.
"Not at the restaurant," she answered pensively. "Health code violations."
I pressed her back against the counter and kissed her, our tongues moving with already familiar strokes.When we broke apart, I saw hesitance in her eyes.
I touched my fingers to her face, my thumb massaging away at her knitted brow. "Don't," I told her quietly.
"Don't what?" she asked, confused.
"You're second guessing what we did last night," I told her. "And this morning."
"What? How?" she asked, utterly confused and surprised as to how I could've known what she was thinking.
"The look you had on your face," I explained. "It was the same look you had back at the restaurant when you told me you couldn't get involved with me."
"I just..." she started but struggled momentarily. "It's just that up to a short while ago, you were straight."
"Do you regret making love to me?" I asked, wondering if she had thought we had made a mistake.
She shook my head.
"Riley, just because I've only slept with men before doesn't mean I'm not aware of what I'm doing here with you," I began. "I am fully cognizant of the fact that we are two women. Am I a lesbian? I don't know. Do I think it's wrong? Absolutely not. When I'm with you, I feel more alive than I have ever been. You made my body do things last night that I had never thought was possible. And so if that tells me anything, it's that being with you feels right."
"Grace is going to kill me. Very slowly and very painfully," she finally said with a sigh.
"Fuck Grace," I told her and she looked at me surprised. "She doesn't get to dictate who you or I sleep with."'
"She does if it's her sister I'm sleeping with," she pointed out.
"Well I guess it's a good thing we didn't do that much sleeping last night then," I said and then whispered conspiratorially in her ear, "I won't tell her if you don't."
"Chef, if you can manage to take your hands off her, you might wanna check your pan over there," Lenny's voice called out from the stairs.
"Shit," Riley muttered and turned to check the stove. She picked up one of the pans and with a quick flick of her wrist, flipped the contents of said pan. She repeated the action with the second pan.
Lenny came down from the stairs and headed towards us. "Good morning," she said to me with sly smile and I swore if I wasn't already blushing, I was now. She grabbed a mug from one of the cupboards and held it up to me, silently asking if I wanted some coffee. I nodded. She grabbed four mugs and set them out on the counter beside me and filled them with the steaming black liquid.
"We haven't officially met," a voice said from behind me and I spun around to see Lenny's girlfriend wearing an oversized button up shirt. She held out her hand. "I'm Gabriella."
"I'm Alex," I said, shaking her hand.
"So we heard," Lenny said with a grin and Riley choked on her coffee.
The realization hit me and I felt my cheeks burning. "Oh, God," I muttered, looking down at the floor.
"We heard that a few times too," Lenny continued, still grinning.
"Okay, who's ready for breakfast?" Riley asked and handed the plate of fruit to Lenny.
Six months later
I closed down the laptop and put it away in the night table drawer. I slid back under the covers and snuggled up against her.
"We're all set," I told her. "We've got the tickets, we've got a flat on a year long lease; insurance is all ready...you've got your passport right?"
She put down her magazine that she was reading. "For the hundredth time this week, yes, I have my passport," she answered. I looked at her for a hint of annoyance but found none. "When do we leave again? Sunday?"
I was about to lose my patience until I saw the tiniest of smirks on her lips. "Stop having a piss. You know full well we're leaving the week after Kristen's graduation."
She just smiled at me. "Thank you for taking care of all the arrangements."
"Well, you are leaving your life here behind for a year because I'm going to write Jim Miller's book," I told her. "It's the least I can do."
She tossed her magazine onto the floor and turned to me. "You think I'd give up the chance for us to finally live together and not have to sneak around?" she asked. We had managed to keep our relationship off of Grace's radar, although she had often questioned where I had been spending some of my nights. As far as she was concerned, I was seeing someone, a fellow writer from the newspaper, but I never offered her any information.
"I love you," I told her and kissed her.
"I love you too," she replied and pulled my body against hers.
It had taken me a while to answer Jim Miller's offer and after much discussion with Riley, being that I did most of the discussing while she patiently listened to me, I had realized that all the reasons to write the book outweighed my reasons to not write it. I hadn't been lying when I had said that I didn't want my writing to be compared to my mother's writing, but another reason why I was hesitant about taking on the project was because I had idolized James Miller from a young age and thought the world of him based on his acting skills and the characters he played. What I didn't want to happen was to get to know him and find that he wasn't the perfect man I had made him out to be in my mind. I was afraid of becoming disappointed by my idol. I admitted my fears to Riley who had simply smiled and reminded me that I had taken the time and effort to look at her as a whole person, her charm as well as her faults, and saw the whole and real person that many did not. And yet I was still with her, "warts and all" as she had put it. I decided to put away my preconceived notions of who I thought Jim Miller was, and who I expected him to be, and made up my mind to truly find out who he was, first hand.
I had called up shortly before Christmas to let him know that I would write his story, and so when i went back to London to spend the holidays with my parents and extended family, I spent a few days with him to get to know him. It was decided that the best way for me to get his story and write the book was to spend a few months with him to live his life, meet his family and old friends and do my research. Then I'd write the book with him and his editor. Realizing that I would be spending a good amount of time away from Riley made me hesitant. We were embarking on a new relationship, which for all the world knew, didn't exist. I wasn't sure if we could handle a long separation.
Then one day, she came to me, a grin on her face, telling me that they had hired someone to help out in the kitchen at Claire de Lune so that Scott would have enough helping hands, and she trusted Lenny to take care of the business. She was going to take a year off and join me in London. Rod had been encouraging her to expand the business and so she thought she'd check out the culinary scene in London and the surrounding area and see if there were any possibilities for her to expand overseas.
"Wait," I had said, the wheels having spun wildly in my head. "Are you implying that this could turn out to be a longer term trip?
"It's your home," she had said. That was the moment I fell in love with her.
"Where the hell is he?" Aunt Grace asked, no one in particular as she paced back and forth in the lobby of the auditorium.
"He'll be here," my dad tried to reassure her but only received a burning glare in response. He pulled out his phone and after a few moments, simply shook his head. "He's not answering his cell or home phone."
"I'll go find him," I said and seven heads turned to look my way. I lowered Claire to the ground from atop of my shoulders.
"You know where he is?" Aunt Grace asked, her eyes narrowing.
"I have a hunch," I answered, straightening up.
"I'm coming with you," Madison said, her voice saturated with anger.
"No, you stay here," I said, putting up a hand to stop her. "For Kris." She paused and then exhaled, nodding.
"I'll go with you," Alex offered and walked off out the door ahead of me, before anyone could protest or question her.
I followed her out to my car and we got in. I pulled out my phone and called Lenny who gave me the number I needed.
"How do you know where he is?" Alex questioned me.
"Remember the house party last night?" I asked. "I saw him there with a girl I knew."
"Knew as in..." Alex let the unfinished statement hang in the air.
"As in I had slept with her," I finished, knowing that's what she was fishing for. "It was once, a long time ago."
Dialing the number Lenny had given me, I didn't see Alex's face but I heard her laughing. I looked at her.
She took my free hand in hers. "Don't worry, I'm not jealous. I'm quite aware that most of the women we meet at the parties, you have slept with. But I also know that it's me you go home with." I gave her a grateful smile and a quick kiss on her cheek.
"Hello?" the Californian surfer voice answered through my phone.
"Hi, is this Jake?" I asked and received an affirmative answer. "I'm Riley, I'm a friend of Lenny's. I was at your party last night. Sal Dimaio was there too, with, um...Kira or Kara or something like that - a redhead. Do you remember?"
"Yeah, you're the chef," Jake answered. "With the hot babe girlfriend."
"Yeah, that's right. Is Sal still there?" I asked, starting the car.
"Oh yeah, dude's still upstairs with Kara," Jake answered and I could hear the smile in his voice. "And Kira."
"OK, Jake, listen to me, don't let him leave," I told the surfer dude. "I'm coming to pick him up."
"Cha, no problem," he told me and I sped off towards the beach house.
When we got to the house, we were greeted by Jake in his board shorts and a board under his arm. He informed us that Sal was indeed still upstairs in one of the bedrooms and left us on our own as he ran down towards the beach. We made our way through the house which surprisingly held no remnants of the party from last night, save for the empty beer bottles that were neatly stacked away in a corner. We went up the stairs and knocked on one door, When there was no answer, I took a quick peek to find the room empty. We went to another door and knocked and heard a muffled voice. "Uncle Sal?" I asked through the door and got a reply of "Next door!" in return.
I knocked on the third door and heard a female voice call out "We're busy." followed by some giggling.
I knocked again. "Uncle Sal, it's Riley!" After some muffled words and movement, I heard Uncle Sal call out for me to come in. I opened the door and he was lying in a bed with a girl on either side of him.
"Hey kiddo, what's up?" he asked me, grinning like the Cheshire cat.
"Oh for God's sakes, Sal," Alex said in disgust from behind me.
I turned to Alex and told her I'd take care of it and suggested she wait out in the hall or downstairs. She left the room, saying she'd wait in the hall. I looked around the room and found his jeans and his shirt and picked them up off the floor.
"It's Kris' graduation today," I told him and threw his clothes at him. "Get dressed. We've got twenty minutes before the ceremony starts."
"Oh shit," he said, grabbing at his shirt and putting it on.
"Oh come on, why don't you just join us, Riley," the girl on the right said to me. She was the one from West Hollywood that I had slept with the night before I met Alex.
"I know she's got a great pussy, but we have to go, now," I told him, ignoring the redhead's request.
"You mind? I gotta put my jeans on," he told me and I held up my index finger.
"You've got one minute to get your pants on and get your ass out of this room," I told him and went out into the hall.
Alex who had been pacing, stopped when she saw me and came up to me. "Great pussy?" she asked with an arched eyebrow.
I shrugged meekly. "If it's any consolation, i don't even remember her name," I told her but only got a rolling of the eyes in response.
"You get him there on time, you will be a hero, though," she said reluctantly.
"If I get him there on time," I said to her. "He'd better not have crawled back into bed with them."
Then we heard a blood curdling scream from the bedroom. I ran into the room and saw Uncle Sal lying on the floor beside the bed. The redhead was crouched down beside him, checking for a pulse The other girl was still sitting on the bed, shaking.
"What happened?" I yelled out and knelt down beside Uncle Sal. I checked for any signs of breathing and for a pulse but didn't find any. "What happened?" I yelled at the redhead.
"He did a couple of lines of heroin and passed out," she answered, pointing to the night table beside the bed. There were a few lines of white powder on the surface. "Then he started convulsing."
"Fuck!" I shouted and lifted his chin and opened his mouth. "Alex! Call 9-1-1!"
Alex pulled out her phone and started dialing. I turned to the redhead who was still naked. "Hold his head like this. When I say go, you squeeze his nose and and blow into his mouth!" When she nodded, I started on the chest compressions.
The hospital was kind enough to put us in a private room while we waited for news about Uncle Sal. Outside the hospital, the paparazzi were already camped out, waiting for the scoop on whether or not rock star, Sal Dimaio had died from an overdose. Although we were all silent, I knew everyone in the room was running through a multitude of emotions. We were scared of losing him yet at the same time angry, bitter and disappointed that he had done what he did. Sure he hadn't intended on overdosing, but he had made the conscious choice to party and snort a couple of lines of coke while his daughter was about to graduate.
After what felt like hours of waiting, the doctor finally appeared.
"He's stabilized," the doctor informed us. "He's lucky to be alive." After some discussion regarding rehab between the doctor, Aunt Grace and my dad, we were allowed to see him. Aunt Grace and Alex and the girls went to see him first and then my family. I held off and waited to see him after everyone else.
"You saved my life," he said to me as I sat down in the chair beside his bed.
"The paramedics saved you with Narcan," I told him.
"You kept me alive with CPR," he clarified. "Thank you."
"I'm not going to berate you 'cuz I'm sure Aunt Grace and my dad have already done that," I said and he nodded. "But you can thank me by getting clean once and for all."
He nodded. "Your dad's taking me tomorrow. I swear, Riley, this is it."
I nodded. My poor father. He'd seen too many people off to rehab, myself included. He'd taken Uncle Sal at least two times already in the past. If I didn't look so much like my father, I'd have sworn I was Uncle Sal's kid, what with the tendencies that we had in common.
"Congratulations with Alex," he told me and I gave him a questioning look. "She's a good catch."
"She's been good for me," I admitted.
"You know, Riley," he began, "I've fucked up with Grace and she really was the best thing to have ever happened to me. She gave me two beautiful daughters and I've...I've been a shitty father. Maddy already hates me. I'll be lucky if Kris doesn't hate me now too."
"You're alive," I told him, not wanting to hear anymore of his self-pitying. "You have a chance to fix things with them. The girls don't hate you. They're disappointed. But you can fix that. I know you know how."
"I know, I'm not feeling sorry for myself," he said. "I don't want you to go down the same road I did."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked, irritated at his implication that I would cheat on Alex or relapse into my addiction.
"You and I," he replied, " are the same creatures vulnerable to temptation. We have two weaknesses, Riley - women and dope."
"I love Alex," I said defensively. "And I've been sober for almost seven years now."
"So don't fuck it up with her like I've fucked up with Grace," he said, this time, a pleading tone in his voice. "Don't become me, Riley."
"How about you focus on getting better and become the man I should be like and look up to," I said, giving his hand a squeeze. He nodded and I leaned down and kissed him on his forehead. I left his room and headed back to Aunt Grace's house with everyone else. When we got to the house, the girls went upstairs, visibly upset.
"Alex, why don't we go up with them?" my mom suggested. She and I both knew that the girls would need someone to talk to but that Grace wouldn't be the best candidate at the moment seeing as how she was too pissed off at Uncle Sal to not be biased. Alex agreed and went upstairs with my mom to comfort the girls.
Aunt Grace went into the kitchen, pulled out a bottle of red wine and poured herself a full glass. She poured a glass for my dad as well but I declined. "Selfish son of a bitch," she said half way through her wine glass already. The next thing I knew, she had finished her wine like it was grape juice and poured herself another glass. "How did you even know where to find him?" she asked me.
"There was a party there last night," I explained. "I was there and I had seen him there. So when he was a no show at the grad, I figured he was probably still at that house. I called and the guy confirmed he was still there."
"How many bimbos was he with?" she asked, finishing her second glass and started pouring herself a third glass. The only thing that prevented her from filling the glass this time was because the bottle was empty.
When I didn't answer her question, she quietly added, "A part of me wishes you hadn't been there to save him. He can't disappoint the girls anymore if he's not around."
"I think that's enough for tonight, don't you?" I asked her, nodding towards her wine glass.
"That's real rich," she seethed, her voice full of sarcasm. "Look who's telling me what's enough."
"Grace..." my dad spoke up, ready to defend me, but I held my hand up to stop him. I wasn't a little kid. I knew Grace was angry and upset. She needed to lash out and if it was against me, that was fine. Better me than in front of or at the girls.
"You and your Uncle Sal," she started her rampage. "You're the same. You love your women. You love your booze and you love your dope. Sure you're sober now and you're convinced you can be faithful, but how long until the temptation is too much to resist and you relapse? How long until you break Alex's heart by fucking some skank or OD'ing at some party?"
I was fine with her tirade up until she mentioned Alex. How had she known about Alex and me? I must've looked shocked because she continued, "You thought I didn't know? She's my sister and I've known you all your life. I knew you were sleeping with her that night you took her to Jim Miller's concert and she never came back home until the next day when you looked me in the eye and lied to me about fucking my sister."
"I wasn't fucking her," I said, trying to contain my temper.
She laughed sardonically. "Lemme guess, you weren't fucking her, you made love to her. Like I said, you and Uncle Sal are the same. You rationalize it in your heads anyway you can to justify your actions. You, Riley Carson, fucked my sister. And she fell in love with you, and I'm sure you're convinced you love her as well. But you're creatures of habit and you'll just go back to your old ways. Sal did it over and over and over again while we were married and even now. You love her, Riley? You really love her? Then spare her the heartache that's inevitable with falling in love with people like you and Sal."
"That's enough, Grace," my father's voice boomed. He took her glass of wine and poured it down the sink, along with his. "Get it together. Your girls need you to be there for them. God knows Sal's in no condition to be a parent to them until he's clean and sober."
Grace sat down dejectedly onto one of the bar stools. My dad made her a cup of coffee and she sat at the counter, nursing the hot mug sullenly.
"Riley," my dad said quietly to me and I knew what he was going to try to tell me that Grace was just angry. I knew she was angry, and she had every right to be. But she was also telling the truth. Sure I'd recovered from my addiction, or at least I thought I had. But what if a person really can't recover? What if the addiction is a personality trait, something you can't change about yourself? Uncle Sal tried, over and over again but would always eventually give into temptation, one way or another. What if they were both right? What if it was just a matter of time before I relapsed like he did?
"It's okay, dad," I told him, lost in my own thoughts.
'Where the hell is she?' I thought for probably the hundredth time in the past hour, standing at the airport. I knew I should have waited for her at the house and came to the airport together but she had insisted that I didn't wait as she had some stuff to pick up from the restaurant first. I had already checked in to pick seats for us and my suitcases were already checked in. There was only a few more minutes until they completed boarding of the plane. I pulled out my phone and tried calling her but there was no answer. I called the house and again, no answer. I called the restaurant and they told me that she had left already.
I saw a familiar figure running towards the gate, accompanied by a security guard. It was Lenny.
"What's happened, where is she?" I asked, panic rising within. Something had happened to her.
Lenny slowed her breathing and then said quietly, "She's not coming, Alex."
"What's wrong? Is she hurt?" I asked, ready to abandon the flight and go to her side.
"No," Lenny said and then repeated, "Riley's not coming with you. She's not going to London."
"Where is she, I want to talk to her," I demanded, a flurry of emotions coursing through me.
Lenny put her hands on my shoulders and looked straight into my eyes and I saw the regret in her eyes. "She's passed out drunk at the restaurant. She said that it was all too much for her to handle."
"Last boarding call for United Flight 934, direct service to London, Heathrow," the voice came over on the intercom.
"I"m sorry , Alex," Lenny said and I could hear the genuineness in her voice.
"No, I won't, I won't let her do this," I refused, the tears threatening to fall and I felt a pain in my chest.
She put her arms around me and whispered in my ear, "You need to go and forget about Riley." She released me and led me by the elbow to the ticket agent who took my ticket and scanned it. Lenny gave me a slight push towards the door. "Go."
"Goodbye, Alex," she said backing away from me and returned to the security guard who walked her back to the main terminal.
I blinked and the tears fell.
One year later
The book had launched successfully and to my surprise, only one critic tried to compare my writing to that of my mother's. She was quite proud of the book as well and had bought copies of it for all her friends, regardless of whether or not they were fans of Jim Miller. And despite my reservations about possibly being disappointed by my idol, I had found him to be an amazingly gifted artist with a generous heart who was always there for his friends and family when they needed him.
I had immersed myself into the book project and tried to forget about Riley. It was hard at first as a day didn't go by that I didn't think about her and how she had changed my life. I went through the stages of grief. The denial that it was over, that she had left me, telling myself that she had just missed the flight and would take the next available one; that one day she'd call me to pick her up from the airport. Then I was angry. Angry at her cowardice and sending Lenny to be her messenger. Angry that she made me fall in love with her only to break my heart. Then came the phone calls. I'd leave her messages on her phone, begging and pleading with her to come to me, and that whatever I had done to make her leave, I was sorry. By the fourth month, I was just depressed. I didn't want to work on the book. I didn't want to leave my bed. But Jim would come over every morning and drag my sorry ass up and out of the flat to join him for breakfast and onto the set of his latest movie. By about the fifth month, I had accepted that heartbreak was inevitable where Riley Carson was concerned. She had opened up a new door for me in terms of discovering my sexuality and for that, I was actually grateful. After eight months, I was finally able to hear her name without bursting into tears.
I had gone out for a run and had just returned to my flat to shower and change when the phone rang.
"Darling, how've you been?" my sister's voice greeted me.
"I'm doing a lot better these days," I answered her, trying to strip off my running clothes to hop into the shower. "I'm getting ready to go out so make it fast, otherwise I can call you tomorrow."
"Where are you headed to?" Grace asked.
"Jim's having a party to celebrate the new book," I said answered.
"I saw it, congratulations, darling, you've done well," she said.
"Thank you," I told her and there was an odd pause. There had been times in the past year when Grace would call just to say hi, but this conversation, or lack there of, did not feel like one of those times. "What's wrong, Grace?"
"Darling, there's something I need to tell you," she said and I could hear a hint of guilt in her voice. "It's about Riley."
I took a deep breath and sat down on the bed. I kept tight control on my emotions. "Go on."
"I know this is out of the blue and sudden but I need to confess something to you," she began. "I'm the reason why Riley didn't go with you to London."
"Riley didn't go to London because she didn't want a relationship," I said, hearing the bitterness which I thought I was over. "It was fun sneaking around when it was new, but the reality of settling into a relationship and living with someone was too much for her. She was trying to be someone she wasn't. I should have known better than to expect a leopard to change her spots."
"Alex, listen," Grace continued. "Riley didn't go to London because I told her that if she loved you, she'd spare you the pain of being with someone like her. I was angry at Sal for the hurt he had caused the girls and me and I projected my anger onto Riley. I told her she was just like Sal, and that one day, she'd relapse like him and hurt you."
"So you...you're the reason..." I said, trying to make heads or tails of what my sister was telling me. I couldn't help but get upset as the information sunk in. "I get that you're protective of me, but Grace, I'm not a kid,"
"Alex, darling, I am sorry and I'm not proud of what I did," she said and I could hear the sincerity in her voice. "In fact, I'm terribly ashamed because as much as I told myself that I was trying to protect you, a part me didn't want to believe that other people could change and find happiness when I couldn't. I am so sorry, Alex. I hope that you can forgive me one day."
As quickly as my anger towards my sister had rose, it faded upon hearing her sad admission. I took slow deep breaths and finally assured her that we'd eventually sort things out. But now I was struggling with feelings that I had put away and learned to suppress in the past year. What was I to do with this new found information? I looked at the clock and realized that I had just over half an hour to shower and get myself to the party. I tossed all thoughts aside for the moment and hopped into the shower.
Jim hadn't given me the name of the restaurant, just the address. The taxi pulled up to a red brick house nestled between other brick buildings. I tried to look for a name but the sign hanging over top of the doorway had just a simple encircled "A" on it. I paid the taxi driver and entered the restaurant. Inside, it was long and narrow, with a walk way down the middle from the front door all the way to the back which showcased an open kitchen. There were tables along the side walls and a bar on the left side, in the middle of the restaurant.
"Alex!" Jim's voice bellowed above the crowd as he made his way towards me. We hugged and I looked around, taking in the decor. It was simple, rustic and quite homey. By the front door was the reception desk beside which was a tall vase holding long elegant white calla lilies. Instantly I was reminded of my first date with Riley. She had brought me the same flowers. The conversation with Grace flooded my mind. I swallowed hard and blew out a breath, telling my head and heart to contain myself.
"Is this place new?" I asked, trying to change my flood of thoughts of a certain chef who would have loved the atmosphere in here. Jim took my hand and hooked my arm through his and casually led me through the crowds of people.
"Aye, a new chef in town," he answered. "An old friend of mine."
As we passed the bar and came within a few feet of the wooden prep table in front of the open kitchen, I noticed the big shiny letters mounted on the red brick wall beside it. They spelled, "Alexandra".
I stopped and pulled on Jim's arm that was locked with mine and tilted my head to the letters and arched an eyebrow. "London's newest vegetarian restaurant," he leaned in and told me. "She loves you. She never stopped."
He pulled back and I saw a figure with a familiar head of blond hair at the wooden table, wiping down a couple of plates that a server then picked up and walked around the room, offering up its contents to the guests. She looked over at us and stopped in her tracks. Slowly, she wiped her hands on a dish towel, tucked it into her apron and walked over to us. Every feeling and emotion that I had bottled up and stashed away since I had arrived in London broke through and came to surface and I felt my heart jump in my chest.
When she came up to us, Jim silently slipped away. With an arched left eyebrow and a crooked smile that brought out the tiniest hint of laugh lines at one corner of her mouth, a look which had melted my heart so many times before, she said, "Hi, I'm Riley."
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