Lily fell into a deep sleep. She felt she was falling down but instead of hitting bottom, her eyes flew open and she found herself in a strange bed. It seemed familiar enough but... she couldn't quite place it. She attempted to turn her head but a flash of pain warned her not to try it again. She closed her eyes again and lay very still as the the sound of carpet muffled footsteps alerted her to the fact that she was not alone. She breathed deeply and slowly to simulate sleep and willed all of her muscles to relax. Ice cubes clinked in a glass of liquid. A soft, squishy sighing noise of someone sitting on a leather cushion.

"Hello sweetheart, " a male voice came. Her heartbeat picked up and she knew her breasts would quiver and give away the fact that she was awake,although, he somehow knew already. She quickly gave up the ruse that she was asleep and realized that the gig was up. She opened her eyes and moved them around the room until they fell upon, Rock!

Lily bolted upright in bed. Frantically her eyes flew around the room. She relaxed somewhat as she realized she was safe. K was stretched out on the other side of the bed, still snoring peacefully. Birds were singing, a quick look at the clock confirmed it was five am. Uncomfortable now, Lily rose and sat in the rocker by the window. The sun was just peeking over the horizon, casting fingers of light, like stripes, over the yard and hedges, warming the morning glories and wisteria to open to this new warmth. The heady scent of honey suckle was teasing her senses. A myriad of birds warbled their songs to the new light, crickets slept quietly now under rocks and porches. Grasshoppers as long as your finger hopped from weed to weed, bending them, making them tremble in an early morning dance. Lily drank it in, momentarily cheered by it. She felt blessed to be so close to nature, and to be able to enjoy the simple things. It was always the simple things that made her feel whole and good. Then her dream of the night before intruded into her solitude. She knew this dream for what it was. A memory. Lost, and recovered. Where her last adventure with Rock began. Drugged, kidnapped, and entirely at his mercy. She remembered it all vividly now. He and his agency were in need of a good computer hack and thief, and Rock's unfulfilled romance with her years before had led him to nap her and basically, force her to do their bidding. She recalled the entire encounter as real as if it were yesterday. Lily felt her world crashing down around her and she covered her ears in a vain attempt to drown out the noise clamoring in her brain. She told herself they really offered her no other alternative, but death, but a part of her brain was insisting she be honest with herself. You were still in love with him, it insinuated. You did this more on his request than in fear, and almost forfeited your life for it. Was it worth it? Her other mind argued, but he didn't let them kill you, did he? No, not dead. Just damaged. Psychic rape almost, but then, she really didn't appreciate the option of death either. Then she reasoned, of the two choices offered, had the roles been reversed, she might have made a similar decision. You're softening, a voice warned. And what if I am? she countered the voice. It's your heart, her mind replied. Yes, yes it was. Was? What an interesting choice of words. Where is my heart? I feel so pulled apart. Rock and I can have no future. There is no way. Her heart ached so she thought she would die. She felt flushed and flustered. She leapt up and fairly flew down the hall to the bathroom to rinse her wrists under cold water. The icy flow quickly cooled her body, now what for her burning mind? He wanted her. Of that she was certain, and god only knew what he did to her insides. Picking up a brush, she utilized it to it's fullest, pulling it brutally through her hair, enjoying the pain with each tangle. The external pain helped ease her inner pain, and anchored her in reality somewhat. She pulled her hair back tightly into a thick tail. Rejecting the idea of wearing makeup she instead washed her face with Dove soap and simply patted dry. Her cheeks were pink, her lips were their natural red color. So, you think he wont desire you this way? The snide inner voice smirked. Lily knew it wouldn't matter, but resisted doing anything that might be misleading. Lost in thought, padding back to the bedroom for clothes, she ran into Rock coming out of his room, en route to the bathroom no doubt as her eyes flicked over his form. He still wore the sweatpants of the night before, and they did nothing to hide his early morning man problem. Now however, he was shirt less, and Lily couldn't help but let her eyes roam over his smoothly muscled chest. The soft covering of blonde hair looked inviting to touch and trailed down his flat stomach to his...

"See anything you like, darling?" He questioned with a sideways grin.

She gasped, and her flaming cheeks left no doubt to her embarrassment at being caught all but drooling. This was not lessened by the annoying grin on his handsome face, showing his sharp, white canines. Amusement danced in his eyes, then seemed to hold her gaze captive. Lily felt stifled and short of breath. Dropping her eyes to the floor she mumbled an indistinct apology and ran to her room. Gaining the relative safety of her room she slammed the door behind her and leaned against it to catch her breath. K sat up and looked Lily over once, then fairly flew out of bed.

"Are you Al right? What's wrong?" she questioned worriedly.

"Nothing, nothing is wrong."

"Bullshit! Where are you coming from?"

"The bathroom."

"The bathroom, huh? and it caused you to feel like this? " K narrowed her blue eyes, took in the well scrubbed face and severe hair.

"Then why do you look so guilty? Atoneful?" K queried.

"Do I? " Lily feigned ignorance.

"You look like the ‘damn spot' wont come out. Like you were washing off sin." K insinuated , with her tone and with an evil knowing gleam in her eyes.

"Well, I wasn't. " Lily moved across the room to the dresser, avoiding eye contact with K. She knew her eyes would tell on her.

"Uh huh." K sat back down on the bed and pulled a brush out of the bedside table and commenced brushing her long black hair leisurely, as though she could care less. It should have been a warning sign, but Lily chose to ignore it. She was too caught up in her own thoughts to try to out think K right now. Lily gathered up a pair of jeans and a striped black and white sleeveless tshirt. She dressed and came to sit on the bed. K smiled sweetly at her. Too sweetly. Lily could hardly stand it anymore. She gave in.

"Al right, dammit, it's Rock." Lily confessed.

"HA!" K cackled , hopping up and down on the bed. Lily glared at her, then smiled. She could hardly stand the smug look on K's face. She needed to bring her down a notch or two.

"But you still don't know what..." Lily teased her. Feeling she had regained her poise, Lily was now the one smiling. K threw her brush down on the bed, crossed her arms over her chest and plopped back down to the bed.

"Hmmph. Fine, be that way." Then K smiled slyly. "I'll go ask Rock what's up!" and leapt up and ran to the door. Lily caught a handful of K's hair as she flew past, gaining both a squawk of pain and immediate submission from K. Lily grinned like a pirate as she leaned into K's captive face and hissed,

"You will ask him nothing!" K smiled from her half twisted position on the floorand asked,

"And why not, Lil? " K giggled. Lily let go of K's hair and snorted.

"Ask him anything you want. Nothing has happened. It's all in my mind. And I'm not sure I trust him, or his intentions." K stopped smiling as she digested Lily's words and realized for a moment how Lily felt. She crossed the room with arms wide to embrace Lily and crooned to her.

"Oh, sweetheart, I'm sorry. I forget what you've been through." K was all soft and honey now. Lily snuggled her nose around on K's shoulder. Her answer was muffled by K's arm.

"S'okay." Lily hugged K tightly for a moment and they parted with a smooch.

"Let's go see if Aurora is cooking breakfast." Lily stated with hope in her voice.

"Right, her cook? with so many boys about? " K grinned as she slipped into a luscious plum tunic over matched leggings.

"She can't help herself. She'd rather boss them around while she cooks herself. Twice the fun!" Lily replied with a grin.

Feeling more relaxed and in control again, Lily led the way down to the kitchen. As predicted, Aurora was bustling around, yelling a K's boys to bring that here, no, not that, that! She was equally as ebullient with her praise. Great job! Way to go. That's it! Were also to be heard. Wonderful odors of bacon frying and bread baking wafted about, tempting the appetite. The sweet smell of melons sparkled the taste buds. A platter in the middle of the large rough hewn table supplied the source. Honeydew, cantaloupe, and strawberries were there for the eating. Rock wasn't downstairs yet. George sat blearily over a cup of hot coffee. Lily was trying to decide if this was to warm his hands or to drink.

"Morning!" Lily sang out to all in the vicinity.

"Morning!" Aurora bellowed from the kitchen. George merely grunted. K needed no encouragement to dig into the fruit and was in fact on her second slice of melon when Lily sat down at the table. Rupert all but shot out of the kitchen as if on fire to plunk a tall, ice filled glass of diet coke in front of Lily. She smiled and thanked him, and Rupert floated out as if he'd just won a prize. Lily smiled inwardly. She had her lips wrapped around a strawberry when Rock sauntered into the room. He was dressed in black pants and black tshirt. Simple as always. He said polite hellos all around then stopped in front of Lily, clicked his tennis shoed heels to her and bowed.

"My lady..."

"You may rise" Lily enjoyed this game.

"As you wish." and with that took himself to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and Aurora's giggles could be heard. Rock was exercising his charm on her as well. He obviously knew what side his bread was buttered on. He came back and took a chair across from lily making her self conscious suddenly. Dammit. This was easily

smoothed over by breakfast appearing. Eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits, oatmeal or grits, depending on your preference. After most people were satisfied, Lily turned to K.

"So, what's on the agenda? Do we have contact? " K licked the last of a Danish from her lips and swallowed hard before replying.

"Yep. Tomorrow for details."

"Good. Let me know when the page comes. Aurora, what's your agenda? "

"Well, we were going to stay til Friday if that's cool. "

"It's okay with me, K and the boys will be here if I'm not. George, George, George, what am I going to do with you?" George just grinned and said,

"Just love me I guess." Lily rolled her eyes but smiled anyway.

"Seriously," Lily began, "when are you planning to go home?"

"I'd like to stay out the week, get some fishing in. Okay?"

"Mi casa es su casa. There is creek nearby I remember if you care to go there, okay?" Lily replied.

"Cool. Hey Winston, wanna come?" Winston looked as if he'd like to and replied,

"Gotta ask my woman. She'll probably want to come as well." George bounded up out of his chair and went to find Aurora, to ask permission to steal Winston away for the day, not waiting for Winston's slow pace.

"Well, that just leaves just one "guest." Lily said meaningfully and looked at Rock. He affected a casual attitude.

"I'll be going soon..." he replied evasively.

"When?" Lily strived not to sound hopeful. Rock looked at Lily hard, as if willing her to unlock some secret.

"As soon as I feel you are safe."

"And when would that be? I feel you are probably the biggest breach of my security so far!" She replied with all seriousness. She was distracted by K telling her she had a call, and to come now!

"We'll talk later!" she promised him

"I but await your pleasure." Rock replied. He sat back sipping his coffee nonchalantly, but never took his gaze off Lily. She pushed down the twitter of excitement he caused in her belly and tried to ignore the trembling in her knees as she went to answer the phone.

end chpt.

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