DISCLAIMER: All television shows, movies, books, and other copyrighted material referred to in this work, and the characters, settings, and events thereof, are the properties of their respective owners. As this work is an interpretation of the original material and not for-profit, it constitutes fair use. References to real persons, places, or events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended to be libelous, defamatory, or in any way factual.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Prompt: Erica/Addison; Angst! :P Jealousy; convenience; kissing in the rain; making up; AU (enough?)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To punkee96[at]gmail.com
BETA: Irishhusky

Twisted Tangle
By punky_96


Part 1

"Just-innnn." Erica whined. "Tell Mark to stop being dirty."

"Mark. Play dead." Justin snickered. He and Mark high fived over the top of Erica's head. She slammed the Chemistry book closed and pushed both of them away from her.

"Sorry." She said to Nathan as she got up and stalked away.

"Get it, Erica? You said for him to stop being dirty and I said play dead!" Erica kept walking. "Man. That was a good one too. You can't stop being dirty—you'd die!!!" They high fived again, but Erica was long gone down the hall and away from her brother, Mark and all of the wrestlers. She couldn't go very far, because she had to be there for the match. Her parents didn't want to make two trips to the high school to get them. So Erica always had to stay for Justin's matches and she ended up tutoring all of his one-sie friends in singlets. She knew a lot of girls would kill for her proximity to the sweat and sparkle of these boys, but as she was the one stuck with it—she didn't want it.

"Why couldn't mom have another daughter?" Erica asked the sky as she walked the hallway looking for another classroom to duck into so she could prolong going back to the coach's classroom. "Justine would have been perfect." She snickered to herself remembering when she used to dress up her baby brother in girl's clothes and call him that.

"You're Justin's sister, aren't you?" Erica was surprised at the closeness of the voice and when she turned around she was even more surprised by the closeness of the face. Blue eyes, red hair, lips that made Erica's panties wet—of course it was Addison Forbes asking about her brother. Addison Forbes who drove a green Trans Am, wintered in Aspen, and wore things with labels. The Addison who knew how to apply proper make-up, wore clothes that were always appropriate and looked good, and whose hair was never out of place in the slightest. Erica pulled away from the other girl and took a deep breath. Of course Addison didn't want to talk to her. No, she wanted to talk about Justin or talk to Justin. Erica was the path to all things Justin Fan Club Related. She rolled her eyes and pulled her hair back off her shoulders and to one side again.

"Yes." She sighed.

Addison's eyes widened and sparkled. "Would you ask him if he knows Amelia?" Addison shifted so that she was partially in front of Erica blocking her view. She pointed up the bleachers a few rows to where a brunette was smiling shyly and half waving at her as Addison waved largely for her to stand up. The girl was clearly shy and for a second Erica felt sorry for her. Then she remembered that if the girl wasn't so shy, she would talk to Justin herself and she glowered inwardly at the high school-ness of it all. 'Seriously, we're going to graduate in six months and these people can't even talk to a member of the opposite sex.' Erica shook her head again but stopped as she caught a whiff of Addison's perfume or musk or… Erica didn't know what it was but she breathed it deep trying to memorize it. She knew that her panties were well and truly ruined now.

To compound her racing heart and confused mind Addison placed her hand on Erica's thigh just a little higher than entirely proper and she fixed Erica with a stare of bottomless blue eyes into bottomless blue eyes. "You'll ask him?" Addison slowly said as she stared into Erica's eyes. She wanted to refuse her. She wanted to stand up and say she was not her brother's keeper. She was not his wingman. She wanted to tell the world that 'she's lost that lovin' feeling' and Maverick (aka Justin) would have to go it alone from now on. Instead the heat of Addison's palm rooted her to the bench and her piercing gaze opened up some floodgate of weakness in her. Her throat went dry when she tried to talk and she instead just kind of half coughed, half whimpered and then nodded yes.

Addison rubbed her hand on Erica's thigh her eyes smiling and then with a squeeze too high up on her leg she stood and was gone. Erica blinked and looked around. Addison was already with her friends and she shook her head and looked down to the bleachers. That was always safe she figured. She was not sure if she lost consciousness for a second from the intensity of that moment or if Addison had special powers because, 'My god. How did she get all the way up there already?'

Shifting on her bench Erica felt a now familiar wetness between her legs. She looked around wondering how many minutes went by. She mentally checked off when the match started and who was in the ring at the moment. She calculated that she could slip out now and be back in plenty of time to see Justin and Mark wrestle at the end.

"Hey, Erica. Where are you heading in the fall?"

"Columbia." Erica swallowed hard. She didn't know how to talk to Mark anymore. Not since the accident. Her brother lost his girlfriend. She lost her brother because he couldn't cope. And Mark, well, he lost an adopted family of sorts. Justin was his best friend and Erica was his reluctant little sister. Now there wasn't much to say and with the summer ending in a week everyone was going their separate ways. "How about you?" She asked finally with a nod.

"I guess I'm going to NYU. Only…" He shrugged. She knew what he was not saying. Justin won't be going to NYU anymore. "I'm going solo." He said and smiled sadly at Erica. "How am I supposed to pass chemistry without you and Justin?" There was a raw flare of emotion in his voice and they both flinched from it taking a step back. They wanted to be friends, but they didn't know how to cross the canyon and reach out to each other.

The silence hung on them like a Christmas Wreath that was never taken down and sagged on the door for months. It was a rotting left behind kind of silence that caused even the most stalwart to recoil.

A man with a toddler walked by and they both watched them pass walking hand in hand.

"Have you—"

"Have you—"

They both started at the same time and stopped at the same time. Conversation starting and stopping like the staccato of a horror movie soundtrack. All that was missing from this was the crickets. Erica swallowed and Mark ran his hand through his hair. They started again at the same time.

"Oh, no. Sorry."

"You first."

"No, really what were you saying?"


Silence. It was deafening. It represented all the dark things that were tucked away in the dark corners of people's minds. Things that no one knew what to say about, or how to say them if they did, or when to say them if they think they could.

"Have you seen Justin?"

"Have you seen my brother?"

They asked at the same time. Only this time the asking was the telling. Neither of them had seen Justin.

"No…" Erica began.

"Not since…" Mark continued.

'Amelia's funeral.' No one finished.

Justin drove the car. Amelia, his girlfriend, rode along. Justin buried her and said goodbye in so many words. He took a bag and some money from their parents and he disappeared into the night.

Had they, any of them, known he would be gone this long… Well, they didn't know what they would have done. But surely they could have done something. Said something. Made a difference.

Erica and Mark each kind of spun on the spot looking around them. Looked for exits. Looked for answers. Waited for a different ending, but did not know how to write it.

"Oh, hello. Erica." Addison sounded surprised to see her. They were all surprised these days. Life was so surprising. How did you lose a friend at such a young age and it not be surprising? Someone you had come to expect seeing, even if you didn't like them. Someone who was there next to your brother every time you looked at him. Someone who came up in conversation at family dinners. Someone who made his face light up. She was gone and then in the next breath he was gone. "How are you?"

Erica blinked at her. When did that become a loaded question? When did you have to walk around with your arms up in a continual defensive measure? "I'm fine, I guess." Erica answered truthfully. None of them were fine. They were all guessing though. That much was true for all of them. "How about you?" Addison didn't lose a family member, but maybe she did? Maybe Amelia was like a sister to Addison? Maybe her family loved Amelia the way Erica's family loved Amelia? It was hard to tell with the aloof posh girl—Addison, Amelia's friend, but no direct connection to Erica. In the silence that stretched out as they regarded each other Erica felt the weight of the silence bearing down on her again. She pushed back against it, needing to fill the void somehow. So she came out of the shallows and into the safe waters of the harbor. The future was frightening, but school was always a comfort. "I mean, uh, where are you heading for college?" Erica rubbed her palms against the side of her jeans.


"Oh, that's, uh, that's…"


"Yeah. I guess so. I mean. Do you like it?"

"My mom went there and her mom went there." Addison rolled her eyes and Erica's heart fluttered for the first time since the funeral in May, maybe even before then. "We'll see. Maybe it's not that bad. I just hate having to follow them."

Erica nodded like she knew what that meant. Her parents had not gone to college. They had lucked into jobs that didn't require college when they started and they had stuck with them moving up through the ranks and making it work. She and Justin were going to be the first in their family to go to college: Justin at NYU and Erica at Columbia. "Yeah. It's hard when people have these expectations of you." Erica understood that at least so that was what she talked about—expectations. Erica now had to fulfill the dreams of all of them—her parents, her brother, and herself. Somehow she wondered if she'd always be put last in her own life.

Addison nodded. She smiled and reached out for Erica's hand giving it a squeeze. For a brief second they each felt a ray of sunshine on their hearts—a brief respite of solace in the jumbling sea of emotions that they had begun carrying around. Just as quickly as she had done it, she let go.

"It was good to…"

"I'm sorry about your…"

They each began and left off glad the other had started talking again. It was a shy awkward moment as blue eyes searched blue. Erica nodded and turned away from Addison wiping the corner of her eye as she did. Addison let one tear slide silently down her face and she sniffed her nose. It was hard to be this close to the raw nerve—to dance on the epicenter of the pain and loss. Maybe it was good they were all going away. All of the teens involved were leaving for college in the Fall. The younger siblings or friends were being taken care of by family. The adults were muffling through as best they could.

"Well…" Erica tried to begin again. 'Put the best foot forward and all of that,' she thought.

Addison's tears kept leaking down her face and she wiped at them. It was good to let go with someone who understood even if they weren't your friend. Understanding went a long way towards relief. Addison lunged forward her arms around Erica. "I'm sorry about your brother." She said all in a whoosh of heat on Erica's body, a puff of air past Erica's ear, and a flutter of closing eyes in the moment. Erica stiffened in her arms taken aback until she smelled that perfume or musk or whatever that was uniquely Addison. Then she relaxed into the embrace.

Wrapping her arms around Addison in return, Erica whispered. "I'm sorry about…" She paused not wanting to say her name. "I'm sorry about your friend." She said. Taking a deep breath and strength from Addison she breathed out. "Amelia."

The metronome coursing through her veins was her heart, but it kept a steady rhythm as they stood there a moment lost in time and each other. Erica pulled away, but Addison kept her in her arms looking into her eyes. It was the briefest second and her lips pressed against Erica's. Just once.

Erica swallowed and looked into Addison's blues. She pressed her lips to Addison's. Just once.

In the pause it took for them to bring their lips crashing together they each took a fortifying breath. Lips brushed against lips. They opened for each other. Taking in the velvet tongue of the other for the first time, the last time, the only time… They lost time. For what was time but a series of frozen moments?

Blue eyes froze on blue. The second hand moved forward and their hearts continued beating.

Addison let go this time when Erica wanted to stay. She brushed her lips chastely once more past Addison's. Then she stepped away.

"Take care." She wiped her eyes.

"You too." She sucked in a lungful of air.

The office door jingled. "Be with you in a second." Erica called out as she sorted through the papers on her desk. She continued ruffling distractedly unaware of her newest client watching her with curious eyes. He was tall, athletic and must be looking to buy a house, but other than that Erica did not register any details. She was busy trying to get this paperwork in order so she could put the offer through for the Sachs-Priestlys. What a lucrative sale! What a demanding client! Although the younger one had seemed friendly enough, Erica mused. She had pretty eyes too, if Erica was being totally honest. Totally taken you could tell from the sparkle in her eyes every time her partner had called her 'Andrea.' She went by Andy, but her partner called her that and you could see that it just turned her heart into jelly every time. Erica stopped shuffling her papers a moment as she thought about it. She wished she had someone that said her name like that. Not that they'd call her something else but that they would say her name and her insides would flutter.

"Erica?" The voice cut through her thoughts and flashed her back to high school. Her head whipped up and she locked blue eyes on blue with her past. "It is you." Mark smiled boyishly at her after all this time. "I wouldn't have passed chemistry without you." He smirked.

Erica stood blinking. It was like she had stepped back 15 years all of a sudden. She looked over his shoulder for Justin but he wasn't there. It felt like a kick to the gut all over again. Yet, Mark hadn't done anything wrong. Mark was a good guy. He was funny, handsome, and devilish. He had done nothing wrong, but remind her of her brother.

"Mark." She said her hand coming up to cover her mouth.

"It's Hahn now?" He asked pointing at her nameplate on the desk.

She looked down as if only now realizing that she had changed her name. Tucking a rebellious curl behind her ear Erica coughed a little to clear her throat. "Yah. Uh. It was my mother's name." She shrugged. "I needed to change things, you know?"

Mark nodded sadly this time. He knew. Even after all this time he knew. He knew what would and wouldn't be said out loud and what would be thought and kept hidden. Grief was so personal that often times it simply could not be shared even with someone so close to you.

"So you're in the market for a house." Erica said retreating into her business persona. Business, like school, was safe. "That is something I can help you with." Erica motioned to one of the chairs opposite her desk.

"A woman with a mission." His playful smirk reminded her of long ago times when he would say dirty flirty things to his friend's sister.

"My hand hurts now, Erica." Mark said flashing a mischievous smile at her. "Why can't there be one master form to initial that indicates which documents have been read?"

Erica laughed a little bit at the standard 'too much paperwork quip.' "Well, we have to keep law firms and paper mills in business somehow." She replied.

"Erica?" She looked up from her blackberry. "Have dinner with me?"

Dinner was pleasant. Dating became a routine. Erica helped him to pick out furniture for his place. She showed him around town. It was all very nice. A cameraderie developed between them that built on their childhood friendship. Sex fed a hunger between them that could never be satiated by the other. They were careful not to spend too much time together. To not rely too much on the other. It was important that they stay separate for reasons that they would never say. Yet it was easy. It was baseball games and sex in the Jacuzzi and fresh shaved skin. It was never expecting too much and never asking too many questions.

It was convenient and easy.

This balance was almost upset the first night that Erica brought Mark home. Up until then it had been his new house as they christened in every room or hotels as they took weekends away.

A dog had a memory like a person's—even those met when they were puppies and not seen again for many years could be remembered. Erica's dogs bounded up to Mark like he was their long lost best friend. He bent to pet them. "Aren't these Justin's dogs?" Thinking back to where he may have seen similar dogs an image of two tiny puppies flashed into his mind. A young couple with a puppy each laughing and smiling in a photograph. He shook his head putting the image back in its file of the past. File under 'A' for Amelia and 'J' for Justin. Close file.

"Yes." Erica said quietly. These dogs were old and she was surprised that he would have remembered the puppies.

"What are their names?"

"Quasar and Pumpkin." Erica said quickly hoping to mask over what she did not want to say.

He looked up at her his head to the side in thought. "No. Those are not their names…" He narrowed his eyes at her as he puzzled it out.

"Mark…" Erica said just on the calm side of pleading.

"Cocaine!" The dog perked up at his name. "Cocaine." He played with and pet the dog. "What was the other one?" He put his hand on his chin in thought. "Chivas. No. Cheerio. Nah. Something your brother liked…" The ice was cracking in little short bursts and Erica was surprised he couldn't hear it.


Her brother had been so happy with himself. Amelia had been so put out, but she couldn't say no to him. No one could. The light of recognition came on in Mark's head his eyes lighting up from within. "CHEETOH!!!" The dog started barking and hopping around. Full of mirth Mark play danced with the dog barking and jumping to make the dog follow suit before it turned in circles where it was. After many moments of this Erica had had enough.

"Mark, you made him pee!"

The scene stopped instantly. Mark smoothed his clothes down and took a deep breath. "I'll clean it up." He said petting the dog and then moving toward the kitchen to get the towels. He was laughing the whole time he wiped up the mess and got a wet rag and some more paper towels. Erica was boring holes into his skull with her laser beam eyes.

"Don't give me the Death Glare." He said. "Justin used to do that shit to the other guys in the ring and freak them out. I developed immunity to it. That goes for you too!" He laughed thinking about those old days and now Erica's reaction to him.

"Where's Justin?" Mark said quietly.

"Oh. You know. I think I got a post card from him from Greece a few months ago."

"So you have no idea then."

"You know he was never the same, Mark."

"Yeah." Mark rubbed his hands together and sighed. "I know."

They won't say it, but they are both thinking it. How were you ever the same when you drove the car that killed your girlfriend when you were nineteen? You weren't. It was this joint loss that somehow held them together in friendship and this arrangement they had. Justin was not dead, but he was absent. He ran from the world and floated from dream to dream—an American gypsy making his way with no real aim or problems except that he was not living.


Part 2

Stepping from the house in the Rancho Neighborhood Erica looked up to see a redhead arguing with a man in a white Ford Taurus. Erica looked up and down the street, but saw no one else. She locked the door of the house and slowly made her way to the car. The red head hit the roof of the car taking a step back from it as she cursed loudly. The Taurus pulled away and turned right at the stop sign. Erica looked back to the woman unsure why she was so fascinated by the scene. The woman looked at her with a facial expression that screamed, 'What are YOU looking at?!' But when she caught Erica's eye her face fell in shock. She rushed to the beat up green Chevy Nova further up the street and took off quickly.

Erica was left standing with her keys in her hand. The woman was furious with the man she had been talking to. She had been justifiably upset to find Erica staring. The confusing part was the look on the woman's face after she took in Erica's appearance.

Recognition. Shock. Running away.

It was hours later that Erica found herself still pondering the red head. She thought that the woman recognized her somehow, she wasn't sure where from, but the red head seemed shocked to see her. The final piece that really had Erica wondering was that the woman most definitely was running away from her. Even if she didn't know this woman, it was clear that she had wanted to get away from her.

Erica lay in bed wondering. Who could she know in that neighborhood? It wasn't like she spent a lot of time in the Rancho area. There wasn't a huge profit margin in that area. Homes in that area were passed down from generation to generation within the family. She had sold a house two years ago about three streets over, but the red head was not in either family—buying or selling. At least not that she could remember. Erica sighed and rolled over to run her hand along the empty side of her bed.

Thinking back Erica could only remember a few red heads. Of course there were a few on tv but she couldn't readily think of too many red heads that were close in her life. In fact, bunching up the covers, Erica could really only focus on her literature TA at Columbia in American Literature and Addison Forbes from high school. It couldn't be either of them. Erica knew it couldn't be either of them. They were both very posh women and states away. There was no way that either of them were arguing with strange men in the early afternoon on a weekday in a run down car on a run down street and avoiding her in a run down green Chevy Nova.

Erica lay on her back again staring at the ceiling. 'I ended up here. Mark ended up here. Who's to say that either of the red heads couldn't end up here. Addison's Trans Am in high school was green.' Erica shook her head willing those thoughts to disappear. Addison was her first girl crush all those years ago. Her first kiss too if she was willing to torture herself enough to remember that stolen moment of an afternoon 15 years ago. Erica turned to the nightstand and turned on the iPod in its dock. She needed to focus on a rhythm to block the thoughts swirling in her mind. Memories and fantasies blurred into one over the years as she imagined Addison's blue eyes staring into her own, her hand on her thigh, and her lips against hers that final day as their bodies pressed together for a hug.

Three days later Erica was at the Rancho house again. The green Nova was up the street in almost the same spot it was when she first saw the red head. The clients were very pleased and they stood in the driveway talking for a little while. Out of the corner of her eye Erica saw the red head exit the yellow house across the street. She seemed to be looking around for someone. Her eyes locked on Erica and her clients. Her pace sped up and she got in the Nova quickly leaving.

It went on that way for three weeks until finally the Nova was parked in front of the house she was selling. Erica waited inside the house watching from the windows after her clients left. She felt like a stalker, but she was sure that this woman was avoiding her and she wanted to know why.

She saw the woman walking to her car and she left the house to go to her own car parked in front of the Nova. The red head was at the door of her car when Erica was even with her on the street. She made an awkwardly obvious attempt to catch the woman's attention as she smiled. "Hello there. Nice day, huh?" She felt stupid but it has been driving her crazy to think that someone was avoiding her. The woman grunted non-commitally but Erica caught a good look at her face before she got in her car. Erica shook her head and kept walking. The Nova's engine wouldn't turn over and Erica heard the red head turning the key over and over. Standing at the door to her Lexus Erica heard the muffled sounds of the red head swearing from inside the car.

Erica walked over to the driver's side window of the Nova and knocked on the window. The red head looked up at her in shock. "Do you need a jump?" She asked through the glass.

The woman opened the door. "Yes. Thanks. Erica." It was muttered and distracted, but Erica definitely heard it and heard her name from the mouth of this stranger. Erica was standing on one side of the car door and the red head was finally facing her on the other side of it.

Erica put her hands on the car door. She waited for the red head to look up at her. "You know my name?" She asked in confusion. "So you have been avoiding me."

Addison blinked at her and looked away swearing. "Shit." She shook her head and then looked back at Erica. "Yeah. I've been avoiding you." The red head set her jaw and looked Erica defiantly in the eye. Confronted now, she was not going to back down.

Erica tilted her head to the left examining this woman's face. It was a hard face: strong and defiant. This woman had not had an easy time in life. Erica thought that the woman was probably about the same age as her give or take a couple of years in either direction. Erica replayed the woman's voice in her mind, 'Erica.' The only red head that she knew that said her name like that… "Addison." Erica finally said at last her eyes searching the red head's finding confirmation there in her features and the nod of her head. "Why did you avoid me?" Erica asked her voice cracking.

Addison looked Erica over, leaned to look at her car, and then she waved her hands out at the entire neighborhood up and down the street around them. "Oh. I don't have any idea why I'd avoid you, Erica. What do you think?" Addison asked in an exasperated tone.

"You don't ever have to avoid me. Addison." Erica said quietly.

For a moment the clock stopped ticking and they were just two women standing facing each other.

A car drove by with loud music shaking its windows. Erica looked around snapped out of the moment. "So you need a jump?" Addison nodded. "Pop the hood. I'll turn my car around."

They had started saying hello little by little over the next few trips to the house, but Erica had made the sale and this was the last she would be in Rancho for a long time. It saddened her to think that she wouldn't see Addison anymore. She still had so many questions for Addison. Not to mention that she still felt that familiar longing from oh so long ago.

"You sold the house?"

Erica looked up happy to see Addison. She flashed her a bright smile. "I did." She unlocked her car door and opened it, but then she stood with her hands on the roof looking at Addison.

"What? That's good, isn't it?"

Erica shook her head and stepped out of her door area. She closed it and walked over to where Addison was standing on the sidewalk. She leaned against her own car. "It's good." Addison looked at Erica biting her lip in confusion. "Addison?"

Addison's face lit up, "Erica?"

Erica smiled at Addison so that she knew there was nothing wrong. "Have dinner with me?"

Dinner was pleasant. Dating became a thrill in their busy lives. Addison told about her long and winding road leading to Rancho. She had a falling out with her family when she came out and barely managed to finish at Radcliffe. If it wasn't for her scholarships and working a lot she would have had to drop out after coming all that way. Erica told her about finishing at Columbia and then working various housing markets around the country before coming here. She hadn't planned on staying but after five years it looked more and more like she would be. Their camaraderie built on their childhood friendship, but took it to a place that neither of them had dared hope for. Sex expressed the connection that they felt so intensely physically and emotionally. Their schedules were each very busy so they weren't able to spend a lot of time together. When they were together it was easy and passionate each of them coming alive for the first time under the touch of the other. It was easy—so very, very easy to fall into each other.

It was easy. It was convenient. Soon it was something that they each didn't want to live without.

Not saying so. That made it complicated.

The sun shone in on the two silent lovers. Their breathing was relaxed and their bodies were touching. Even in sleep they yearned for each other. A hand touched skin here and a leg possessively claimed there—they should let their bodies speak for them so that their brains won't fuck it up and their hearts won't get stomped on. They don't know this, however. They are asleep. Sex in the night gave way to slumbers that were fed by sweet dreams. If they could wake and remember their dreams, maybe even then they could save their hearts the trouble. Alas they were human and as such they had to suffer the human condition which was so many parts suffering, so many parts stupid, and finally occasionally one part totally perfect and in love.

Blue eyes opened on blue eyes and smiles formed like rainbows on their faces. Erica kissed Addison, but pulled away as soon as she kissed back. She tapped her nose and shook her head. Erica kissed her again and again when Addison kissed back she pulled away. Addison narrowed her eyes at Erica who smiled at her. She leaned down to almost kiss Addison stopping just millimeters away from her. Quickly she licked her tongue out and swiped across the middle of her lips. She looked Addison in the eyes and waited. She lowered again to Addison kissing her. Addison kissed back and Erica pulled away enough that only her tongue touched Addison's lips. She licked the top one just lightly and then the bottom one. "Enjoy this Addison. L—" The words died on her lips and she quickly began kissing down Addison's jaw. 'Let me love you.' Once again not being said.

Erica licked and sucked Addison's pulse point and all over her throat. She sucked on her earlobe and teased behind her ear. Erica rose up over Addison so that she was only touching her with her mouth. She kissed down her chest bypassing her breasts as she kissed a direct line down her body. She backed up her body as she went. Kissing the rise of her rib cage, the small swell of her belly, each hip bone, and then finally her sex Erica drank in her lover. Addison whimpered and tried to not move as Erica's mouth worshiped her body. She felt so vulnerable like this. She felt like she should be doing something—giving something back. She wanted to make Erica feel as loved as she felt in that moment. Addison fought off the tears that threatened to come when Erica was so delicate with her. It was exquisite, but Addison didn't know what to make of it. It felt like love, but she couldn't be sure what Erica felt without the words. When they went at it hot and heavy slapping bodies together, riding each other hard, fast and deep—well, Addison knew what that was. She could keep that in one chamber of her heart and her dreams in another. When Erica was all lips and love then Addison wanted to weep that her Erica might really love her. Just when she wanted to trust in this, Addison remembered that Erica didn't know what she did for a living. Erica didn't know the whole story just yet. Not wanting to crumble the house of cards Addison had kept her own secrets. As she got deeper and deeper in with Erica though Addison realized that she would have to tell her. She was terrified because it may be more than Erica could accept. More than she could love.

Erica's tongue lapping into her wet slit licking her desire up and around her pussy drew her back into the present moment. Addison let her legs fall wider apart letting Erica in. Only Erica's tongue and mouth were touching her. Addison wanted more. She wanted Erica's shoulders against her legs and her nose against her clit as her tongue entered her. Addison wanted Erica's hands hot and hard against the skin of her hips as she wrapped her arms around her legs and held her down.

Erica was only giving her this: her tongue and her lips and her love—breathing it hot and pure into her skin.

The flat of her tongue licked at Addison's slit gathering all the moisture there. She lapped it up with increasing vigor—drinking in Addison's desire for her and letting it wash through her veins. Erica dipped into her core feeling the arch of Addison's body off of the mattress. Her closed eyes allowed her to focus on what she was doing while stepping outside of herself to 'see' Addison like a private movie in her mind. She licked the letters of her love into Addison's folds, circling the 'O' of L-O-V-E over and over around Addison's clit. The trembling in her legs was preceded by a desperate grabbing of the sheets and the most delicious high pitched wail falling from her lips. Erica felt a rush of desire between her own legs as she licked the final 'O' around her clit and brought her screaming over the edge. Addison began to scoot away overwhelmed by her continued release and Erica finally wrapped her arms around her legs holding her in place. She licked the 'V' and the 'E' into Addison intent on finishing her message in this form since she could not bring herself to say the words truly out loud.

Holding her tongue in place and her lover's hips to the spot Erica let Addison ride out her release over and over as she breathed and moved against Erica's tongue sending herself over the edge again and again on aftershocks. When Addison eventually stilled Erica released her arms and touched her only with her mouth once again. Addison whimpered at the loss of contact, but reveled in the feel of Erica's mouth on her inner thighs kissing up and down each before kissing the line where her hips met her legs on each side. Then Erica was moving up her body kissing once more. This time it was not a direct path, but a kiss on each rib and under each breast, a lick and a suck on each nipple until she was ultimately back up over Addison's mouth. Addison could feel the nearness of Erica's body, but not her actual skin touching her. It was maddening after all of this time to be tantalized by her. Addison wrapped her arms and legs around Erica in an attempt to devour her, to kiss every part of her simultaneously, to silently scream her love back into Erica through the kiss and the hold and the heartbeats on sweaty skin.

Under the pressure of her grasp, Erica acquiesced to Addison's silent pleading for contact. She herself moaned as their breasts crushed together, their bellies pressed firmly against each other, and Addison shifted her legs to entwine with her own. They were woven together from the soul to the toe if they only could recognize it for what it was.

Kissing again this time Addison took the lead. Erica surrendered willingly to her. They rolled until Addison was on top of Erica. She pushed up on her hands to look down at Erica. She let her breasts dance with Erica's their nipples sliding past each other sending tingles through the both of them. "I want to look at you." Addison almost whispered then she closed her eyes a moment to keep the rest of her words in. She lowered her head down and captured Erica's lips with her own. Their eyes closed they lingered in the kiss feeling the warm wet of each other's tongues, sucking on each other's lips, and tasting the love in the other's mouth. Addison adjusted her legs so that she was straddle Erica as she pulled out of the kiss. She raised up. Her hands slid down Erica's chest to rest on her breasts. Her blue eyes locked on Erica's as she circled her wetness against her skin. Under her she felt the power of Erica's hips as they pressed up against her. Addison twirled her fingertips against Erica's hardening nipples and twisted them. Starting slow she built up her pattern until she was pinching. She pulled quite hard as Erica arched her back and pressed her breasts firmly up into Addison's hungry touch.

Addison's eyes never left Erica's as she writhed and bucked below her.

The image of Erica's face giving in to pleasure, the flush of her cheeks with desire, the way her hair splayed out over the pillow, and the darkness of her eyes half lidded with lust—all of these things, Addison wanted to engrave in her mind. She wanted to believe in this, she wept sometimes at home alone touching herself and thinking of Erica. Until her alarm went off and she had to walk back into her secret reality leaving Erica behind and knowing that Erica would never understand. Her heart broke with the thought of it and she pinched so hard that Erica cried out. This broke the spell of her mind and Addison focused again in the moment. She reached behind her to Erica's sex as the other hand lingered down along Erica's abdomen. Erica reached up to touch Addison's sex but was stopped when Addison grabbed her hand. "Enjoy this, Erica. Let me." Erica moaned at the sound of her words reflected back at her.

Addison entwined their fingers and leaned back so that she could enter Erica with two fingers.

Squeezing each other's fingers tightly they moved together. Addison's sex slid against Erica's stomach and her fingers in and out of Erica's core. They both struggled, but kept their eyes on each other as their breathing quickened with their pace. Erica's eyes fluttered shut as she reached her orgasm. "Let it go, Erica. Come for me, baby." Addison said as she added a third finger and pressed up and into Erica. She pulled away from Erica's fingers and pulled the tips into her wetness as she rose up curving back to let Erica in and to reach her more fully. Addison felt a gush of wetness over her hand at the same time she felt Erica push into her desire. She cried out as Erica began to convulse and shake below her. They moved erratically only pinned to their fingers in each other's sex riding out their mutual release.

'I love you.'

'I love you.'

The silence was overwhelming as Addison crashed forward onto Erica's heaving chest. The moment overtook them and they fell into a sweaty, clingy, dreamy, happy snoozing slumber.

Addison jumped out of bed hearing her alarm. She looked at the clock as she rushed about gathering her clothes. "I can't be late. I can't be late. I can't be late." Muttered under her breath as she brushed her fingers through her hair and grabbed the toothbrush that Erica insisted on having for her. Her pants were not buttoned, her belt hung open, her blouse was untucked and she was in such a state that Erica, still sleepy, was frightened.

"What happened? Did you get a phone call?"

Addison stopped and looked at her like a deer in headlights. She couldn't lie to her. She had been thankful to not have to. Now was the moment it would seem. "I'm late." Addison quickly stuffed her shirt into the top of her pants. Looking up at Erica's silence Addison added, "For work." She zipped up her jeans, buttoned them, and flapped the belt tight into place on her hips.

She furtively looked at Erica who was naked and looking at her with concern, confusion, and dawning anger. Addison couldn't stand that look and she tried to rush past her to get her purse and head for the door before the inevitable conversation had to begin, to end. The conversation that she knew would end it all.

Erica grabbed a t-shirt and cut Addison off at the door. "Who works these weird schedules?" Addison stopped short but refused to look at Erica. "Why won't you look at me?" Addison jingled her keys in her hand tightly gripping them to feel the painful press of metal in her palm. "What are you keeping from me, Addison?"

The thud of her heartbeat might just jump out of her chest and throw itself on the floor in surrender.

"Stri—" Addison started and stuttered. "Stripping. Stripping." She was not sure why she repeated it, but she did. "I strip." Erica's face dropped open and shocked before her. "I'm a stripper, Erica."

Stunned silence. Erica looked into Addison's eyes for confirmation that she heard her right. She looked her body over once more taking in the perfect features that she had come to love. She let her heart beat into her throat. She always wondered why Addison was in Rancho, how come she worked such weird hours, and why she never went into specifics about it. She just never dreamed that she was keeping something from her until today. She never thought that Addison was practicing deceit by omission. She never thought.

"I'll. Just. Go." Addison said. Her hand pushed against Erica moving her to the side easily in her dazzled state.

Erica followed Addison out onto her porch the chill air tickling her naked legs. "You could have told me."

Addison turned on Erica tears sliding down her cheeks. "And what?"

Erica shook her head unsure. "You don't have to do that if you don't want to." It was meant as a gentle offer, an acceptance, a plea for continued conversation.

"Just say it, Erica. You don't want a dirty stripper." Addison spat the words out.

"What?" Erica gasped as Addison turned around. "I didn't say that." Addison was down the three steps from her front door. "Addison come back." Erica took steps to follow her but a car drove by reminding her that she was naked except for the t-shirt. Addison was already at the Nova.

She looked up once. Her eyes caught on Erica's. They lost time in the eyes of the other as they flashed onto the memory of delicate lips, exquisite love, and mingled breathing on a shared pillow. The look was quick but encompassed an eternity of desire between them freezing it for forever. They lost time in this first last goodbye. Then it was shattered as a truck went by and Addison threw open the car door. For what was time but shattered moments cutting through the layers of the heart?

In the car Addison sniffed and sobbed barely seeing the road through her tears.

On the cold concrete of her porch Erica wiped at her tears with frozen fingertips.

Time rattled on with a wheezing cough and a mortal wound to its heart.

"How come I haven't seen you in weeks?" Mark instinctively kissed Erica on the cheek.

Erica shrugged but didn't answer. Her demeanor spoke for her, but she didn't realize how well he knew her. "Just busy, I guess."

Mark rubbed the stubble on his chin contemplating his dear friend. "You've found someone." He said it quietly with a tinge of sadness. It was a change in their dynamic. One that they both knew would eventually come, but that neither had exactly known what it would be like when the time came.

Erica nodded slowly. She wanted to talk, but she knew that her history with Mark should mean that they didn't talk about this. He got her though in ways that no one ever had. She nodded again taking a deep fortifying breath. They were lovers, but they weren't really. The sex was not about their love for each other. It was convenience. Saying that out loud seemed inappropriate somehow, even if it was true.

Mark wrapped his arms around her pulling her the final step into his chest and he held her there kissing her hair gently. "I'm happy for you."

Erica sighed in his arms and wrapped hers around him then. She knew that it had all shifted now. Unspoken, even if complicated, they were friends now and always would be. "And sad too?" She asked quietly into his shoulder, because she was sad too. Mark had been there for months lighting the corners of her longtime loneliness.

He sighed and squeezed his arms around her. "Yes." She could feel him nod as he held her. "And sad too." He admitted because he was. He would need to leave the shelter of their arrangement and brave the waters of intimacy with another once again. A few hearbeats went by as they held each other and adjusted to the changes in their worlds. He kissed her hair again rubbing his hands up and down her back. "But you're not happy right now?"

Erica struggled with the tears that had stolen into her eyes. "No." She exhaled holding him close.

"What happened?"

Erica made a half choked desperate giggle and moaned into his chest. "She finally told me she's a stripper." Erica pulled back to look him in the eye. "She freaked out that I couldn't handle it."

Mark didn't bat an eye. Instead he smiled condescendingly, "What are you gonna do?"

Erica pulled away from his grasp shrugging and going for tissues on the counter near the living room. "I don't know what to do. She won't answer my calls. It's been days."

He eyed her for many long minutes sizing up her state and choosing his words. "Get her back, Erica."

Rancho, a green Chevy Nova, and red hair—Addison would be one of the easiest people to stalk if Erica had a mind for it. As it was she simply had a mind for sitting on her front steps with flowers. While Addison's schedule was a little erratic, there were certain consistencies within it. Erica knew that Addison would be coming home at this time in the afternoon on Tuesdays so it was with a certain determination that she waited for the green Nova to pull up. Erica had intended to wait on the front step where she was visible and didn't surprise Addison, but as it began to rain she had inched up the steps until she finally was sitting on the bench tucked behind the plants on her porch. Hearing the familiar engine rumble and the car door opening Erica stood up. Hearing Addison swear about the rain brought her out from behind the planter to the steps. The clink of the gate brought them face to face on the front walk.

"Erica." Addison said as she stopped short and cornered on the walkway.

"Please listen to me. If you still want to be stubborn, then fine, I'll be gone." Erica waited looking into Addison's eyes. When Addison didn't move she began. "No one before you really touched my heart, Addison. I don't know exactly what it's been like for you all these years, but I've not really felt alive. I've been comfortable. I've had convenience. I haven't had love. Addison. I want to have a chance with you. I didn't like that you kept things from me, but I understand why you did. I didn't have words when you told me, not because I couldn't handle it, but because I was shocked. You left before I could tell you what I feel and before I could think of what to say."

As Erica's words flowed from her Addison's tears began. The rain increased from a light patter to a full pounding, but neither moved. In the silence Erica brought up the flowers and held them out to her. Addison's face crumpled and she reached out for the flowers with a shaking hand. Their fingers touched as she took the flowers from Erica. They gasped at the unexpected contact. Addison stepped up to Erica and with her free hand she grabbed her neck and pulled her into a hungry kiss.

They stood kissing in the rain renewing their connection to each other.

Flowers were forgotten in favor of lips, tongues, salty tears, and wet shirts pressed against wet shirts. Erica loved the feel of Addison's skin through the thin wet fabric of her blouse. Addison loved the feel of Erica's wet cheek under her fingertips. A truck drove by and a wolf whistle drafted over them on the cold breeze. They took no notice of anything except each other. There was nothing else in this rain soaked, love filled moment. Eventually they were both shuddering from the cold and Addison pulled Erica by the hand up the steps and into her house.


Part 3

"Er-i-cahhh." An amused smile broke across her face at that familiar sing-song tone. Never in a million years would she have thought she'd be having drinks at a strip club with Mark Sloan while waiting for her stripper girlfriend, Addison Forbes, to take the stage. Yet here she was and she was happy about it. "So I get to meet her." He said with a suggestive wiggling of his eyebrows.

Erica laughed a deep laugh and hugged her friend. She motioned to Sammy, the bartender, for her usual and another for Mark. They clinked glasses smiling at each other. "Oh, you've already met her." Erica said with a playful smirk. "Have you been here before?"

Mark winked at her. "Do I come here often, you mean?"

Erica playfully slapped his shoulder. "Yes. Mark. That's exactly what I meant."

He shugged. "I've been going to strip clubs all over town looking for you."

Rolling her eyes she called his bluff. "Oh please, Mark. As if. Sammy already knows your drink."

Turning then as the announcer came back on Mark tipped his glass to her before taking a sip. "How have we missed each other then?"

Erica sighed. "Well, who's your favorite girl? Maybe we're just not on the same schedule?" She bumped his shoulder with her own.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you." Mark said mysteriously.

The announcer asked them to thank 'Cinnamon Twist' as she left the stage and there was a light spattering of applause for the departing woman. Up next he said was the crowd favorite 'Mistress Cherry Blossom.' Erica and Mark looked at each other each expecting shock, but a different shock washed over them. They turned to watch as Addison Forbes their mutual friend took the stage. "Promiscuous" from Nelly Furtado was the song that she strutted out to. She glanced along the runway winking and giving flirty glances to earn her singles, but her eyes continued to search the crowd. When she saw Erica and Mark at the bar they raised their glasses to her. A wicked gleam flashed in her eyes and she threw herself into her routine. The reaction was unprecedented and she collected more singles than usual before she left the runway with a rousing round of applause at the end of her set with no prompting from the announcer.

"So my two favorites are at the club together tonight." Addison said as she hugged Mark and then kissed Erica. She was in Erica's favorite bikini with a dollar strategically at her hip and another at her breast. Sammy brought her a large glass of water. After a long drink she turned sultry eyes on Mark, "Sandy was asking about you."

Mark laughed. "She was, huh?" He scratched his chin. "Lap dance, then?"

Addison giggled. "Yes. I'll go tell her." Addison turned to Erica and kissed her hard on the lips before sauntering off barefoot and practically naked. Erica shook her head and looked at Mark.

"Have you ever dated a stripper?" She asked him. "Do you ever get used to it?"

Mark laughed and patted Erica on the back. "I've never dated a stripper now that I think of it. Hung out with some, like your girl here, but I've never dated one. How's it going by the way? Last I talked to you it was sad, but now it looks like it's all hearts and flowers."

Blushing Erica peeled the label off her beer bottle. "It is going great. We were able to work things out and figure out a routine. I insisted on being able to know about this and find a level of comfort here."

Mark nodded. Then he smiled as he saw 'Cinnamon Twist,' Sandy, over Erica's shoulder. "I'll be back in a half hour. Let's get a drink after closing, yes?"

Erica smiled and nodded.

Mark's back patio was just lit enough to make it cozy and to allow for that forbidden naughty slumber party feeling to creep in. The kind of lighting that made things appealing that normally one might reject. Sitting on lounge chairs drinking in the chill air Mark offered the ladies some candy from a dish he kept in his kitchen. Erica had started him on the candy dish when they used to hang out. She liked to have peppermints or jelly bellies or some kind of candy around. Comfortably situated they basked in their late night glow. Mark sat back pulling a small vial out of his pocket and popping something into his mouth. He closed his eyes letting the moment relax him.

He opened his eyes to see Addison leaned forward examining him curiously. "What was that? Can I have one?"

Mark looked at her and then Erica. He held his hand out to look at the vial in consideration. "No. I think you should stick to the candy."

"That's not nice, Mark. You should share." Addison challenged him.

"It's E. Addison." Erica leaned forward her face asking the question. Mark smiled wistfully. "Ecstasy." He looked at each of them letting that sink in. After a moment he sheepishly added. "Guilty pleasure, I'm afraid."

Addison's eyes sparkled and she reached across to touch his arm. "You should definitely share then."

Mark pulled out the vial and held a pill in his outstretched palm. "I can share." Popping the pill in her mouth and taking a sip of her drink Addison leaned back. She let out a happy little hum and let her hand stroke Erica's thigh. "Erica?" Mark said as he held up the vial. Erica looked at both of them a moment thinking that she hadn't done drugs since college, but then shrugged. She was in a safe place with safe people and not going anywhere. He shook out a pill into his palm when she nodded. They sat in the same quite low conversation as they drank and their bodies took in the chemicals. That slumber party naughty magic slowly overtaking them in the warm night.

"I want to feel your five o'clock shadow."

"I want to feel your fuzzy shirt. It looks so soft."

"I want to feel your hair—such long tresses."

Who got out the video camera? Who suggested it? Who moved to the bed first? Who took off what clothing in what order? Who ran the bath? Who remembered that Addison and Mark had… sophomore year? Or that Erica and Mark had… a few months ago? Or that Addison and Erica had… well, still were right this minute? Who wanted to watch? Who wanted to touch? Was the bedroom window open? Could you see in from the street? Who wanted the lights on?

Who let that tape get to the newspapers?

Mark was a manwhore to be sure. It was his house. Ostensibly it was his video camera.

Erica was a real estate tycoon. She had an impeccable community image. She had the sexual appetite of a tyrannosaurus rex.

Addison was a stripper. She had enough dirt and scandal just with that. She needed money.

So who sold it to the press? Or gave it? And for what purpose?

Or was there a second camera?




"Hmmm. What?" Erica answered the phone aggravated and messing her hair. Addison stirred beside her hugging the pillow instead of getting up.

"Go get your paper."


"Just go get it. Now."

Erica started to move toward the door, realized she was naked and grabbed a t-shirt and her panties. "Mark. Really."

"Is Addison with you?"

"Yes. Of course, Mark."

"Keep her there. I'm on my way over."

Erica stepped out on to her front steps to grab the newspaper. She nearly dropped it again when she saw a photograph of herself, Mark, and Addison leaving the strip club together. "Shit." Erica said as she stood with her back to the door. "Addison." Erica threw the paper on the kitchen table and headed back to the bedroom. "Addison. Get up. Mark's coming over."

Sleepy the red head sat up and glared at Erica. "What time is it?" She looked at the clock. "Erica Hahn. It is barely eight o-clock in the morning! You love birds couldn't stay away from each other until noon?!"

Addison was mad and a little jealous, but she was getting up.

"Please. For the last time. I'm with you. I choose you. I want you. Not Mark. He just has something to show us."

"It had better not be any more ecstasy. I will not taking that ever again after what happened. It was all great in college and partying. But—" Addison was beginning to rant and ramp up on a jealous tirade.

"Addison." Erica pleaded. "You don't have to take anything ever again, but please stop with the guilt and the jealousy and the, the, the… whatever this all is!" Erica said gesturing up and down Addison's body. "You were there too. A very willing participant, I don't have to add. And you were quite happy snuggling in between Mark and I the morning after! If anyone should be jealous, it should be me."

Addison rolled her eyes slamming her shirt down over her head. Then she finger brushed her hair in a huff and put it up in a loose hair tie. Erica loved it this way—when Addison was wearing her glasses, her hair a mess and dressed in a too large t-shirt and capris that showed her calves and bare feet. Right now though, she was a fire-breathing dragon and Erica knew to stay away from her.

Erica sighed heavily as she edged closer to Addison. "Look. He called because he saw the paper this morning and wanted me to go get ours. He wants to talk to us about it."

Addison looked closely at Erica her brain trying to stay angry as she assimilated this information. "The paper." She said finally and swallowed.

Real Estate tycoon and community leader, Erica Hahn and high school sweetheart Mark Sloan picked up a stripper for good times. Oh, did we say stripper? We meant hooker! Look at the video clip people. They do have chemistry, I must say!

Sloan a recent addition to our Business scene who was planning to run for City Council next Fall has declined comment at his offices. His spokesperson said that there was nothing worth a scandal about. He said that the legal implications of this go only to the press who are printing it for libelous and slanderous purposes to ruin him.

Hahn simply brushes past the press with the infamous Death Glare that in the past was saved only for her competitors. No comment except for her body language that screams, "Looks Can Kill; So Back Off." Her sunglasses donned after that kind of look and she's off again in that Lexus of hers.

Forbes is the wild card here, folks. Neither a business woman or community leader she seems to have been the girl toy for the happy couple. Where she is now? We aren't even sure. If you have any leads on this beautiful red head stripper then by all means, send your information into the office.

"This is huge, Mark. What the hell am I going to do?"

"What are you talking about? I think you are missing what's important here, Erica."

"They are dragging all of us through the mud, Mark. This is a huge scandal and will affect my business and yours."

"Erica!" He cut her off because he had to. She still was not on the most important part of this. "Erica, you've made it. You are a success. You could retire now at 33. You are missing the point of this because you don't know how to deal with it."

"That's. You're. Mark." Erica threw her arms up in exasperation.

"Look it's a scandal, so what. It won't really affect you. Except that it has affected Addison and you are avoiding that. And that? Affects you."

Erica shook her head at him obstinate. "I have Cocaine. I'm fine."

Mark fought the urge to slap her on the back of the head. "Cocaine and Cheetoh are not Addison Forbes. And you are an idiot." That felt to him like a slap on the back of the head. He looked at Erica. From her look it would appear that it felt like a slap on the back of the head.

"Mark." She whined in a doomed pathetic little voice.

"You've never been so alive as when you were with her. Don't let that go." Mark waited while his words sunk in. When there were tears formed in the back of her eyes he started up again. "I'm sorry that we got into all of that… but you know it was a lot of fun… it just stirred up a lot for Addison."

Erica looked at him with a look that said, 'what about me?'

"None of that, Erica. You and I have had each other and out families all this time. She hasn't. She lost Amelia, came out, lost her family and financial support, got into a get money quick pattern and used her body to make things work."

Erica sobbed and he finally took mercy on her and wrapped his arms around her.

"She's been covering pain just like we have. You have your career. I have my black book. She has her body and sex."

"Oh, Mark." Erica wailed into her chest not even bothering to worry about tears, snot or slobber.

Erica waited in her car this time across the street from the yellow house. There was only so much she could do. Phone calls and attempts to talk to a woman who was determined to not be talked to were outside of Erica's comfort zone. Once again she found herself laying in wait and she did not like it one bit. This time there would be no flowers. If Addison wanted to continue being stubborn and pass up what Erica was sure was something wonderful between them, then it was time for Erica to go lick her wounds and let the healing begin.

The green Nova pulled to a stop outside the yellow house and Addison got out of the car. Erica on the other side of the street did the same, but she did not approach Addison instead she called out to her from her side of the street. She was keeping a respectful distance. Addison huffed and leaned her back against her car motioning Erica over with a resigned flap of her arm. Erica leaned against the car with her shoulder so she could face Addison.

"Last effort." Erica said and tucked an unruly curl behind her ear. "I know you were upset before the news article. I know we needed to work through that. I wanted to, Addison. I don't know why you left after the article." Addison glared at her something awful. "Ok. I know why, but I don't get it. You know it wasn't true. I know it wasn't true. Mark knows it wasn't true."

Addison shook her head. "It doesn't matter."

Erica reached out but stopped before she actually touched Addison's shoulder. "It does matter. You matter. Don't you see?"

Addison looked at her then with sad eyes. "He's better for you, Erica. Even the newspapers thought so."

Erica balled her hands into fists in frustration and holding back because all she wanted to do was wrap her arms around Addison and hold her to her. If she could just hear her heart beat for her, she would know. She felt so far away from her standing a mere three feet away.

"Since when do the papers know what really goes on between two people?" Erica stepped in front of Addison so she would at least look at her. "Does anyone besides us know what was going on between us, Addison?"

Addison shook her head and wiped at a tear in her eye. "But that night…" She started and sobbed. "You were so natural with Mark." Her eyes pleaded with Erica.

"Addison, you were natural with Mark too."

"He's better for you. For your career. All the scandal."

Erica let out a bitter laugh. "My career is fine. I could retire if I wanted to. Move to Bermuda." She moved to catch Addison's eyes. "Mark is not better for me. He was convenient when I dated him and that was all. Addison, I want you. I was dating you before that night and I want to still date you after that night. I can't take that night back. I can't do it over. I can move on from it. I want to move on from it." Erica touched Addison's tear stained cheek at last. "With you." She said with a desperate crack to her voice and a gentle thumb wiping away tears on Addison's cheek. "Please, Addison."

Addison shook her head no as she sobbed even louder. Erica tore herself into shreds wanting to hold her and needing to heed her answer. With a hard swallow stuck in her throat Erica wiped one last tear off Addison's face and then stepped back. She stepped away from her, into the street, and out of her skin.

Addison let her get four steps away before she tugged her arm turning her around to face her. Then she pulled her by the arm close to her and took her face in her hand pulling her into a fierce kiss. Erica's arms flailed up in the air even as her lips and tongue kissed back. Addison's hands shifted around her and Erica held Addison's face. They kissed and moved and their bodies collided. Their hands moved touching each other for the first time again. The kiss was overwhelming as they were both already overcome with tears and now they had unstoppered the passion that had been blocked between them since that night of unintended craziness. Crying and kissing they nearly clawed at each other in their unbridled passion. When they pulled back from each other blue eyes sought out blue eyes.

"I love you."

"I love you."

They lost time in the eyes of each other as their love washed over them in waves of care, concern, passion, and desire. The moment was quick but it bent time around the pole of forever and paused it there all the same: they were locked in mornings awakening together, night falling asleep together, and days spent working their way back to each other. Just as quickly as forever bent around them grounding them in certainty it moved on taking them with them in its flood of time. The were lost to time in this last first kiss. Time did not have to be frozen moments of perfection. Time did not have to be shattered moments cutting hearts. Time could be the tide of love that carried them forward together toward some greater end that neither could see yet, and neither would have reached on their own.

A dog barking down the street drew them into the present.

Addison took Erica's hand and pulled her with her out of the middle of the street and into her home.

Erica felt a tremor of love course through her body as she followed willingly.

Time buzzed by them on fast forward once again the shards of doubt, uncertainty, and wreckage pulled out and stitched over all at once.

The End

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