Lily awoke around 3 am according to the bedside clock, and she rolled over to watch the news channel on TV on mute. She insisted there be a working television so she could verify the date and time, not as necessary anymore, Lily thought. That brain block blowing up was probably the best thing that had happened lately. Well, the best thing besides it not happening at all, Lily's other self countered. At least she was out from under that cloud. But, there were plenty more clouds left to rain on her. Lily thought about all the conflicting feelings she had about her new found memories. The answers to a lot of questions. She felt anger, sadness, regret most of all, and she hated to feel regret. She never wanted anything less than she wanted regret. To have left something undone, left something untried. Life was to short to risk regret. That meant you wished things had gone differently. Would she have done anything differently? Had she really had much choice? No. So. That was done. She could be dead. Would that have been preferable? No, of course not, her rational mind answered immediately. That same part of her mind said then, Okay, this happened to you, get over it. Lily heaved a heavy sigh. So many tiresome thoughts assailed her poor, tired brain. Her brain needed to chill out, but she couldn't. She had an important job coming up. Her contact would be sending details any day now. Not that she couldn't afford to miss it, but she didn't want to. Maybe she was getting soft from all this pampering. The job it's self should be easy. Candy from a baby. It was all the waiting for things that gave her the time to really wonder about her choices. Her job was what she did while she waited. For what exactly? That made Lily think soberly for a moment. Daniel kept saying "soon" and when they were "settled". What the hell did that mean exactly? When who was settled? How long would she have to wait? She pushed those thoughts aside, but uneasily. Daniel, I love you. Please be patient. She tried hard to not think of him. K stirred on the other side of the bed, and Lily looked at her blankly and without emotion for a moment. What about her? What about her! her mind said. We're just friends, but Lily knew she was lying to herself the moment she thought it. Oh really? the bitchy side of her brain insinuated. Lily always thought of her brain as a control room. Some really crappy office in her head. A large wooden desk dominated the space. Plenty of people had carved their initials in it and so on, but it was serviceable. How thrifty. Rusty file cabinets filled with archaic memories surrounded the desk. Everywhere but the over the windows created by the eyes. One nervous person wearing big,loose comfy clothing, hair neat, but ugly, biting her nails. Lily thought of her as the "wimp". The other person in the chair was obviously not an employee of the brain.More like a dominatrix of the mind. There to humiliate and belittle. Dressed impeccably, gorgeous hair and nails, that she obsessively filed, was the "bitch". They were the two parts of Lily that "ruled the joint" as it were.Therefore, she was always split. What to do? She felt that everything she did was suspect, and was awaiting the punishment to fall on her. Why was she born to be punished? She didn't know the answer, but it sure did feel that way today. Sighing, she rolled over and pushed the covers away, kicking them down to the foot of the bed. She drew in her breath at the chill of the hardwood floor as she went to look for clothes. Finding a simple cotton dress she threw it on and ventured downstairs.She slipped quietly through the house, more from habit than purpose. Soon she was another shadow on the back porch. The worn wood felt soft and fuzzy beneath her bare feet. The occasional island of blistered paint scrunched under heel now and then and was easily flicked away by an inquisitive toe. The yard was dark, lit only by the sporadic flicker of fireflies. Lighting bugs she had always called them. Crickets chirped in the still left by the passing storm. The air was heavy and cool and lily took deep breaths of the fresh, ozone rich air, closing her eyes to fully appreciate the odor. The different smell of the country vs the city. The country is sweet with flowers and grasses, earthy and pungent. The city was plastic and garbage smells. Rotting things unable to be one with the earth, artificially contained or burned. Cars contributed heavily to this city funk, palpable and visible in some areas. As visible as the obscuring of the stars from the sodium vapor lights mixed with this haze. Horrible. Lily shuddered. She hated the city. All this thinking of the city made her want a smoke. She went back into the kitchen and retrieved the pack and went to sit once more on the porch. The stairs sagged a bit under her weight and she hoped she wouldn't get a splinter in her butt. She watched the smoke curl up in the air and dissipate. The stars were bright now as they peeked out of high thin clouds. A small sound behind her startled her to her feet. Rock stood at the screen door. Lily turned away without speaking, walking slowly away a few steps. Her heart beat heavily and she took a deep, calming breath. The door squeaked as he opened it and came onto the porch.

"Nice night." He ventured softly. His voice sent little twitters of excitement running through every nerve, but her only reply was to grunt noncommittally. He tried again.

"Couldn't sleep?" Lily turned and looked up at him. She now stood in the cool grass of the yard and he had come to lounge casually against the porch rail. Her eyes flicked over him, rumpled hair, wearing his glasses, t-shirt and sweatpants. The t-shirt was snug and hugged his well formed pecs in a familiar way. The sweats were slung low on his hips and the flow of the fabric betrayed the curve of his hipbone, the rounded curve at the top of the thigh, the outline of his masculinity. His feet were also bare and slightly hairy on top. Similarly Rock looked Lily over. She was very appealing as she stood barefoot in the grass, in a light cotton dress, lit gently by the stars. Her auburn hair flowed freely about her shoulders and rested coyly on the swell of her breasts. Her dark brown eyes looked melty and soft, like chocolate. Her lips, full and red, were slightly parted as she made her bold appraisal of his person. He felt his heart leap in his chest and wondered if Lily could see how she affected him. Suddenly Lily snapped her jaw closed, and replied as if finally hearing the question.

"No, I couldn't sleep. You either obviously." Rock smiled at her. He had almost forgotten he had asked her a question.

"It takes me a while to get comfortable in a new place." The fell silent and Lily bent to pick a clover out of the grass and absently picked it apart , partially to avoid looking at Rock, and partly to hide her own trepidation. Her stirred an old feeling in her and she couldn't afford to be vulnerable to him right now. So much to talk about. She didn't know where to start, and knew this was not the time. She came back to the porch and sat on the steps again, reaching for another cigarette. Damn, she'd have to quit again. Rock came down and snatched up her lighter and lit it for her. She took a long drag on it and blew it out over his head. She couldn't help herself but ask.

"Why are you here?" She blurted. The wimp in her brain covered her eyes, not wanting to see the train wreck this may cause. He never stopped looking directly at her as he replied,

"What do you mean?"

"Cut the crap. No one would know I was here. I am safe from the system currently."

"Would you believe I'm here for you?"

"As much as I would like to, no." He pounced on her last statement.

"Would like to? Have you forgiven me?"

"No, and I really don't think there's much hope for you and I, remember you are a "family" man and your family wants me dead!" He couldn't immediately refute her statement any more than he could deny the small stab he felt in his heart at her words.

"I freelance sometimes."

"Well, I don't, not in matters of the heart. I don't want you part time. I have that now." She stopped before she said more things he didn't need to know.

"It seems, dear heart, that this is where we always get tangled up." Lily kept her eyes adverted as she thought about their past, the present and the impending future. Lily broke the silence.

"I have a lot to sort through before we will be able to talk about all of this. So much has happened in the last few days." Lily stared at Rock for a long moment. First making eye contact, then flickering over his individual features, outlined in blue by moonlight. His full soft lips held her gaze for a moment until she saw his head incline toward hers. Slowly Lily's eyes traveled back up his face to his eyes. Those clear blue eyes, reflecting a bemused looking Lily. She felt as though she were dreaming. All movement was in slow motion. She felt as though she were watching from the outside, in a detached, catatonic way. Her eyes closed of their own accord as she felt breath tickle her cheek and felt his nose bump hers the nanosecond before their lips met. Softly pressing, questioning. His hand stroked her cheek and she opened her eyes to see him stand up and smile down at her.

"Good night Lily." Lily watched as he moved across the porch. She noticed he walked with a bit of a swagger in his catlike gait. It suddenly seemed boyish, and comical, in a sweet way and she smiled despite herself. Touching her lips with her fingers she added the bittersweet feel of this tender kiss to the already overcrowded jumble of thoughts in her poor abused brain. Hot ash from her cigarette dropped onto her foot startling her out of her thoughts. She flicked it properly and took a last drag and flicked the whole of it away. Sighing as she blew the smoke at the moon, a barn cat approached and rubbed against her legs. He allowed her to scratch his scruffy fur for a moment, but seeing she had no food, took himself off to chase a cricket that hopped past. The yellow tabby pounced on the crispy little critter and noisily chewed him up.

"Life sucks,doesn't it jiminy?" and took herself up to bed.


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