Lily rubbed her eyes, stumbled off to the bathroom,not looking in the mirror. Not wanting to. She quickly came back to get her boots on. "Nicki" was asleep in the chair. Lily had a strange moment of piquancy as she noticed both the early morning stubble of beard and the smudges of last nights mascara around his eyes. Very interesting. A complex mix of textures and images. Very strange. How do I get my self into these weird situations? She thought. Only you , and your bad temper, her brain dared to answer her. Lily chewed her lower lip. Everyone is going to think the worst. I don't usually go off like this, and they are all going to be freaked out and want to "talk about it". Lily sighed and felt the burden of responsibility on her shoulders and like a broken stud, she was ready again to accept the stricture. Nicki breathed in deeply and shifted position in the chair, but did not wake. Lily had no idea what she would say anyway, and left quietly. She had also let a few hundred dollars "fall" out of her pocket on her way out. Nicki looked like he could use it. Needed a few more steaks. A sandwich. Something. It was the best she could do. She had no time for strays right now, as much as this one looked like a fun project. The door latched quietly behind her in a heavy way. If she had forgotten anything, it was gone now. The heavy, metal fire door of the apartment seemed very solid. It would take a lot of knocking on it to wake anyone inside. She looked down at the concrete beneath her feet, and noticed the rusty discoloration around the metal rods that joined the railing with the walkway. As she walked to the stairs, her boot heels resounded loudly in the enclosed walkway, and she automatically walked on tip toe to muffle the sound. The sun was shining brightly this morning and the car was warm to the touch. She pulled a pair of obviously expensive sunglasses out to protect her eyes. Looking around to gain perspective and direction lily at once decided on a path, jumped into the car and tore off into the early morning mist. She missed a turn, and backtracked. Just as she turned onto familiar roads, she felt the car sputter and her attention flew to the panel as she realized that she never did get gas last night.

"Dammit! GRRRRRRRR!" Lily growled with disgust at her own stupidity. She beat her fists against the steering wheel. Her own lack of impulse control to led her to let herself run out of gas!! Stupid. Could have been deadly in the wrong circumstance. Careless. I really need to get my shit together, she thought. So much had happened and she was so overwhelmed. No excuse! The bitch in her brain yelled. Stupid little thief! Now she was mad, mad at her own self accusations. Self doubt jumped in to create guilt...shame... regret. God Damn how she hated regret! It was in this mood Lily started down the road to home. She hoped it wasn't as far as it seemed.

She walked for almost three hours. So tired from last nights indulgences. So tired of the continual dust she kicked up as she walked. Her thighs burned, her feet ached, and she was over warm in leather in the light of day. She'd had enough time to worry about Daniel. Enough time to rehearse what she was going to have to say to Hayu to get her way. Enough time to wonder just what she was about to get herself into. Dammit! She kept saying to herself. Finally, wearily, she turned up the drive to the house. There was a boy keeping watch on the porch, waiting for her return. He darted into the house, and soon the whole crowd was there. Lily was not in the mood for this happy reunion. She glared at everyone who looked her way. The crowd fell away from her path as though sliced. Moving into the house, she stomped past everyone there, and her attention fell on K, who was in the kitchen, on the phone. She was trying to pacify someone. Lily didn't care who for the moment. That's what I pay her the big bucks for.. Lil thought as she dropped the keys on the table and headed upstairs. K looked her way worriedly as she tried to reassure the caller all was well. Time would tell. Lily felt the world would wait a few more minutes and started unlacing her bodice on the way upstairs, her regular footfalls on the floor making a loud noise in the empty hallway. She was halfway to the bathroom when she heard water running. Great, she thought. I can't even take a bath in my own damned house! Who was in there? She stomped around the corner of the door with an angry look on her face, to find Rock, drawing a tub of water. She was confused for a moment, took a step backward, and started to head for her room instead.

"Sorry." She apologized.

"Wait! This is for you." He stood up from his kneeling position and called after her. Lily stopped in her tracks and looked over her shoulder in surprise.

"For me?" She seemed close to tears. She was exhausted, sore, bruised all over it felt like. To have someone draw a bath she didn't ask for was almost more than she could take. He smiled broadly, proud with himself. He was glad he had thought of it. He had been watching from the upstairs windows and had seen her coming for a while. He noted the bruises on her arms, a bit of dried blood was smeared across her shoulders. Her hair was disheveled and matted looking. She controlled her tears, just barely, and smiled her first genuine smile in days. She sniffled a little and told him she would be right back. He smiled tenderly, never adverting his eyes from hers, and bowed a bit. She smiled a tired sweet smile and went to divest herself of her ruined clothes. Lily headed for her room and shucked the clothes from her body. Those should be burned, she thought. She slipped into her bathrobe and with a weird tingle of excitement, headed back for the bath. She arrived in time to see Rock take a diet coke from Rupert, and tell him his services were not needed. She lowered her eyes and smiled to herself. Rupert stood there until Lily was upon them and she assured him she was fine and he should go about his other duties. Rock looked like the cat who had swallowed the canary. Rupert left reluctantly. She felt suddenly shy. She shouldn't . He had looked upon, and much more, than looked upon her naked form, but she felt suddenly uneasy. Rock saw this and tried to appease her.

"Diet coke?" He asked, offering the cold can to her. She felt so unsure, but she smiled at him. He gave her the soda as she crossed the threshold. She moved into the room, but seemed unable to step into the tub, or drop her robe. Rock smiled his wicked smile and reminded her,

"Don't worry, if it's something I've never seen before, I'll shoot it." He grinned like a jackanape. A wry grin crept up her cheek and she raised her brows loftily at him. "I need you to leave, if I'm to have a bath."

"Are you sure?" He cajoled, " I could be most instrumental. I'll wash your hair, scrub your back, help out with any hard to reach areas." One half of Lily's mind said yes, yes, yes, but she wasn't sure. She almost dismissed him, but decided instead to allow him to stay. His eyes were riveted on hers.... she dropped her robe to step into the tub. His gaze remained entangled with hers. She brought her knees up, to cover her breasts. Her nipples were concealed, but the meat of her breast was there to see the curve of, the weight of. Rock closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The air was heady now with the scent of jasmine and sandalwood. Her favorites. She couldn't help but comment.

"My favorites. Did you ask? Or do you know?" Her gaze was at the water, but his was intensely on her. She could feel them burning her skin . He wished he had known, but he had had to ask.

"I asked." He confessed. It tickled her to know that he had asked. It showed he cared. But what was she doing? What about Daniel? What about him?, her hedonistic side asked. She shut her mind down at this point. He came to help wash her hair. The candles had all been lit, the boom box was playing soft favorites. She tipped her head back to allow him to pour water through her hair. Their eyes locked, and he shampooed her head while they gazed at one another. She closed her eyes as he poured cups of water through the soapy strands and just enjoyed, until she opened her eyes and he looked at her in that way. The way that made her heart pound until she could hardly breathe. His eyes held her captive and his head inclined toward her until they were kissing. Lily snapped her head up, and looked at him hard.

"Are you sure this is what you want?" she breathed....Her cheeks were flushed pink, her eyes glazed over with ardor. "We still have so much to talk about, but at the moment, it's the last thing I want to do.... Talk with you that is. But I must know." He took several deep breaths, as though he had stopped breathing sometime before and needed to catch up.

"What do you need to know?" He asked quietly, prepared for it, ready to give the answers.


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