Chapter Sixteen

    Less than twenty four hours later, the memory of just how wrong the evening had gone still made Lynn feel sick. She scrambled across the bed to the mini bar, reaching in to clean out all remaining midget bottles out onto the carpet. "Hair of the dog and all that," she half cried, twisting open the first little bottle within reach. Why hadn't she backed out when she could? Even SHE knew what the limits were. Last night at the motel, Lynn had learned just how limitless Nick's behavior could be.

    "There you are," Nick said, looking back at Lynn as she entered the motel room.

    Lynn was silent, laying her camera bag on the end of the bed. Nick hovered over the limp Jessie, his hands sliding all around her body. "Can we get this over with," Lynn asked in disgust.

    "My pleasure," Nick purred, starting to undo Jessie's lace up corset.

    Lynn sat down on the bed, her back to Nick, and unzipped the camera bag. Opening up the camera, she mechanically went about loading the high speed film, trying to distract herself as long as possible as to just how 'into' his performance Nick was getting.

    "Too bad we couldn’t do this the right way, Doll Face," Nick said, caressing Jessie’s skin, slipping his right hand into her shirt to cup her breast. "Maybe next time.."

camera4.gif (6905 bytes)"Okay Don Juan," Lynn said, slipping the flash into place on the camera, "lemme get a few shots off so we can get out of here.."

    "Snap away dear. This is gonna be fun.."

    Nick pulled the front of Jessie's costume totally loose, yanking the billowy off the shoulder blouse down, expertly removing her bra one handed, exposing her breasts. In his eagerness to position himself on top of Jessie, his feet bunched up the sheet, as he started to kiss her, groping her chest hungrily. "You getting this?" he called back to Lynn over his shoulder, as he adjusted Jessie's body, to make it look to the camera that Jessie was arching her back, tilting her head back in passion.

    Lynn's hand shook, her heart pounding. She hadn't anticipated her own negative reaction to the scene before her. Jessie WAS a bitch, but this? This bordered on.. on.. she couldn't even bring herself to say the word. "Okay.. that's good," she said. "Put her top back on and let's go.."

    "Not even close babe," Nick angrily. "This little photo session is our ticket to some serious cash, but it’s also serving as a payback time for me." Nick stopped what he was doing, looking back at Lynn for the first time. "Oh come on," he laughed, "a hot little number like you? Admit it.. you're getting turned on by watching, aren't you baby? Hey, like I said, there's plenty of me to go around. I’m sure she won’t mind.."

    "Dream on scumbag.."

    Nick was in the middle of taking off his shirt, when he stopped. "Scumbag? Either you're into slumming or you like the edge of a strong willed man that knows what he wants. You didn't have any complaints when I was on top of you. Now shut up and keep on shooting the damn pictures.."

    He hiked up Jessie's skirt, pulling her up to him until she was sitting up, positioning her legs around him. "You know I could make some serious cash off these shots.. yeah.. this is hot. How's it look babe? Getting all hot and bothered yet?"

    He must have done this before, Lynn thought, because she had to admit, he was making it look good. Tilting his head so that the camera never got a clear shot of his face, he positioned Jessie in just the right way so like it looked like they were in the throes of passion. "Looks fine," she answered, through clenched teeth.

    Again and again, he repositioned her body, roughly grabbing Jessie, mauling her body with his hungry hands. Nick lay back, the sheets a tangled mess around them, pulling Jessie on top of him, easing his hands up her legs to hike up her skirt. "Too bad this little vixen isn't fully awake.. it would be kinda fun to tame the wench.."

    Even from a few feet away, Lynn could tell that Nick was becoming sexually aroused, and she started to get scared. "Roll's finished," she announced. "I think we got enough shots here anyway.." Lynn shut up when she heard what she thought was a moan coming from Jessie. But how could it be? She was sure Jessie had ingested quite a bit of rufies. Could all the tossing about of her body caused her to start to come around?

    "See? She likes it," Nick moaned, getting even further turned on. "You've wanted me all along, haven't you Jess? I'll make you moan baby," he stated, throwing Jessie onto her back.

    "Cut it out Nick.. are you crazy?"

    "You're just as much a part of this little scheme as I am," Nick spat, "no one held a gun to your head.."

    Lynn realized that things were quickly spiraling out of control. "All you said was that we'd take a few compromising looking pictures.. not this.."

    "She's had it coming," Nick answered, switching his attention back to Jess. Like Lynn, his heart was pounding, just for different reasons. Years of resentment, of feeling stepped on by the more fortunate, who took it for granted that things came so easily for them. Moaning beneath him, Jessie was the perfect target for Nick to vent his pent up emotions on.

    Lynn audibly gasped, as she saw the evidence of his arousal jutting up against the sheets, as Nick descended on top of Jessie. Lynn's jaw clenched, as she saw Nick's hands disappear under Jess's skirt. "I'm warning you," she stated, desperately trying to stop him, "you better stop.. or.. I'll rip the film right out of this camera.."

    Rage burned in Nick's eyes, as he stared at her, causing Lynn to recoil, sure that Nick would pounce on her. "Don't you threaten me," Nick hissed, as he started to undo his jeans, "or you'll learn just what I really am capable of.."

    Jessie started to stir under Nick, as Lynn's head started to spin. She had tried her best to help Jess, but enough was enough. She couldn't risk having the person in the next room call the cops because of the yelling, and risk being found there in the company of Nick and Jessie.

    "I can't take this," Lynn stated, taking the chicken shit way out. Hopefully Jess would come to before anything could happen, Lynn thought, trying to reassure herself, as she gathered her purse and camera bag. "Think about it.." she said quickly, as she headed for the door. "Are a few minutes of physical pleasure worth years in jail? What good is money gonna do you if you're locked away?" And with that, she left the seedy little motel, as fast as her shaking legs could carry her.

   Even now, in the relative safety of her hotel room, Lynn's hands shook as she blindly gulped down the contents of the last bottle in the mini bar. How she had managed to drive back to the hotel that night she didn't know. Not since she had learned that she was pregnant had she felt this out of control.

    Lynn had just made it up to her room, the bottle of hastily purchased scotch she had picked up at an all night liquor store tucked discreetly between the clothes in her bag, when the stillness of her oasis was broken by the sound of a ringing phone.

    "Hey hot pants.."

    "What do you want?" Lynn gasped.

    "Aww.. is that the way to talk to your partner in crime? Tsk tsk.. Yeah, I know.. it's been a long night, but I just thought you should hear this from me.. it has to do with the result of this evening.."

    "STOP!" Lynn pleaded, squeezing her head between her hands.

film1.gif (2605 bytes) "Aww baby, all I wanna do is make sure you don't do anything rash with that roll of film.. well I made it back to the Dusk to Dawn - funny thing is, the place was so packed, I wasn't even missed - anyways.. I was shooting the breeze with the guys as we packed up the equipment, when someone called, stirring everyone into an uproar. See, it seems that after Jess came to in her Jeep where I left her, she drove off, straight into a cement divider on the highway.."

    Lynn gripped her neck, her bag and purse slipping silently onto the carpet, as she stifled a scream. "She's not.."

    "No.. no.. would I sound this calm if our little scheme had come undone? Nope, the little doll ain't dead, but she is in bad shape.. slipped into a coma.. Angel's at the hospital playing Florence Nightingale.. Mitchy was there too but he's so wound up he had to get back here and keep busy, or he was gonna go nuts.."

    Lynn's knees went weak, and she sat back onto the bed, the wind knocked out of her.

    "You there babe? I know.. it's a shock. Guess we'll have to wait a while before we put our plan into action.. It's late, and it's been a long night, so get some rest. Drop off the film at my motel room. I have a friend who'll develop it for us. I'll call you later this week so we can get together and look over the photos.."

   A soft moan came from her lips, and hurt her throat as the sound crept up her inner body, slowly croaking out of her mouth, exiting, like a foghorn. Jessie bellowed. She hurt, and the moan made her move, just slightly, but enough to hurt. Her stomach was making noises and felt shallow, empty. Her mouth opened again and she sucked in some air, and a sharp pain came to her insides, as she tried breathing in. Her chest sunk in and she cringed, her neck tightened, her face crinkling. What huge, heavy weight was on her chest? Her chest was in so much pain, as she tried to fill her lungs with air, and Jessie reasoned that something heavy must be on it. Her lungs were sore - but why? Only half the air left her lungs as she exhaled, the rest slowly seeping out, like a leak in a helium balloon.

    At least I'm warm, Jessie thought to herself, so warm. From the waist down, she felt warm, yet strangely enough, she felt a chill in her arms and face. How could she be warm and cold at the same time? Jessie's head ached, her questions only adding to the throbbing in her brain. Only the stinging pain in her arms, like pins, cut through the foggy delirium that enveloped her. Yet, even so, Jess struggled to fight her way from under the thick fog, trying to move something, anything, even her fingers. They too felt uncharacteristically stiff, and moved only in short, painful twitches. But at least I can move, she thought.

    The pounding in her head wouldn't go away, and Jessie fought to lift her arms to hold her aching head, to run her fingers through her hair, and play with it teasingly as she always did, but she couldn't, not having the energy or strength to lift them. Praying this was all an awful dream Jessie switched her attention to moving her legs. Squeezing her eyes shut with exertion, she pushed herself, willing her legs to move, rise - anything - even just twitch. Clenching her abs, as if she were doing the world's hardest stomach crunch as she tried to move her lower body, a sharp pain came to her stomach, a loud moan escaping her lips.

    Hearing a noise, Angels' eyebrow perched up, as he lowered the newspaper he was reading, glancing towards the hospital bed across from him. "Ow?" he mouthed, wondering where the sound had come from. Looking around the room, he noted that the television was off. Bending his neck, he leaned back and glanced at the window. He could see no birds, not even a lizard hanging off the screen. Setting the newspaper down next to the badly padded chair, he walked to the door of the hospital room, and glanced down the hall. All was quiet - well, for a hospital it was quiet. No nurses or orderlies wandered the halls, the only person within sight or earshot was duty at the Nurse's station.

    What a night. Luckily it had been Angel who had answered the phone when the cops had called, finding the bar’s number jotted down in Jessie’s wallet. The party was just about over, people happily pouring out into the street, still decked out in their costumes. Like a scene out of a horror movie, Angel could still see the terrible moment unfold in his mind, in eerie slow motion. Pulling Mitch aside, Angel had taken a solid hold on Mitch’s black leather jacket that was part of his Fifties getup, knowing full well what was to come. Never had he seen the look of horror that crossed his friend’s face, as Mitch fought to free himself, and bolt out the door to Jess. Angel knew well what that kind of emotional shock could do to someone, and was determined to spare Mitch as much of it as he could.

    "Let me go.. I have to go to her.."

    "Mitch.." he said, turning his wild-eyed face to his, "listen to me.. MITCH!" he said, shaking him. "You’re too shaken up. Stay here, and help close up. I’ll go. I swear to you, I’ll call you as soon as I know anything.."

    Mitch’s legs shook, and he had to lean up against the bar just to stay upright, his head spinning. "Okay," he mumbled, ice running through his veins. "Swear to me.. swear.."

    Angel’s own eyes teared up, seeing the despair on his friend’s face, as tears of fear and frustration tumbled down his cheeks. "I swear Mitch.." he said, quickly searching his own crazed mind for the words that would make Mitch feel better. "I swear she’s gonna be okay. I’ll get right over there so she’s not alone.."

    Mitch nodded blankly at Angel, bowing his head sadly. Leaving word with Sally to not allow Mitch to drive over until he called - and more importantly until Mitch was more calm - Angel raced out the door.

    Although he was more composed that Mitch, Angel didn’t exactly know how he had made it to the hospital. The last time he had made such a drive was the day Suzanne had died, and the similarities were almost too much for the big man to stand. But Jess had pulled their fat out of the fire more than once, and now it was his turn to do what he could, no matter how hard it was. Thoughts of the all night liquor store fringed his mind, as Angel pulled into the emergency room parking lot, flashing red lights slashing across his own reddened eyes..

   Angel removed his glasses, twisting his neck back and forth, working the kinks out of it, as he turned and reentered the hospital room, his ponytail swinging as he contorted his neck with an achy grimace. The hours in the stark white room, with only the drone from the machines surrounding Jessie's bed was getting to him. Angel was glad Mitch hadn’t been there to see Jess in the emergency room. Her condition had been serious enough that Angel had only managed to catch a quick glimpse of Jessie, between the rush of activity around her. Yet that had been plenty. She lay deathly still, her clothes ripped off her, blood stains still trailing from a nasty gash on her head. The whole time, his beeper hadn’t stop beeping. Mitch sounded like he was out of his mind, only adding to the stress of his situation. Seeing the pained expression on his face, one of the ER nurses came out just long enough to fill Angel in on Jessie’s condition. Jess was in a coma, and their biggest concern was alleviating the swelling in Jess’s brain brought on when she hit her head. Other than that, she was holding her own. Once they got her hooked up to a heart and lung monitor, an IV, and some oxygen, and took blood and urine samples, they were whisking her off to radiology for a CAT scan. Angel had taken the opportunity to call Mitch, and fill him in on the latest.

    "What the hell took you so long.."

    "I was talking to the nurse.. they’ve just taken her over to radiology," Angel said, leaning up against the pay phone.

    "What’d she say? Have you seen her? Why are they taking.."

    "Wo.. wo.. slow down there buddy," Angel urged. God, I need a cigarette, he thought, wondering how he was gonna phrase this so Mitch wouldn’t flip out. "Jess hit her head during the accident, and she’s unconscious. That’s why they wanna do a CAT scan. But she’s holding her own. Those tests take a while, from what I understand, so I’ll call ya as soon as they get her a room. Right now I have to go outside and have a cigarette.."

    "Okay.." Mitch sighed, the calmness of Angel’s tone succeeding in calming him down a bit.

    "How’s everything back there?"

    "Fine.. We’ve almost finished cleaning the place up" Mitch paused, adjusting and readjusting the bottles on the shelf nervously. "You’re not lying to me, are you? Maybe I should head on over there now.."

    "I would never lie to you Mitch, not about something like this. Chill out over there. There’s nothing to do over here but wait. Hell, I haven’t even gotten to see Jess yet. I know you.. that alone will drive you crazy. Stay there and keep busy. I’ll call you as soon as she’s taken up to a room."

   That was two hours ago. Jess had just been moved upstairs, and Angel had settled into the recliner next to her bed. He rubbed his weary eyes, realizing how easy it would be to fall asleep in his impromptu bed. Grabbing the edge of the white sheet to wipe his glasses, he saw it. Something moved. Despite the shadows and fuzzy shapes, Angel saw something move. Quickly, he slipped his glasses back on, staring at the foot of the bed where he had seen the movement. His eyes widened with surprise when he saw Jessie's feet, exposed when he had yanked the bedsheet to wipe his glasses, move, toes curling.

    "Your.. your.." he mumbled, still in shock, "YOUR TOES CURLED!"

    "Oww," Jessie moaned, grimacing, Angel's exclamation hurting her ears.

    "YOU SAID OW!" Angel said, with excitement, as he scooted his chair forward to get a closer look.

    The machines started to screech their protest, beeping, loud tones sounding as Jessie's heart rate started to escalate. Angel struggled to his feet, in a frenzy, knees knocking, as he rushed from the room. "Nurse! Nurse!"

    The voice was like a roar in her sensitive ears, that rang now, to the beat of her throbbing head. Jessie's eyes opened, she didn't will them to, or want them to, but they opened, and they blurred. Her eyes stung, they were heavy, and wet with, tears maybe? All she could see was white, a blurry , a fuzzy white, as if she were looking out a window at a snowstorm. And as she struggled with the fact that even her eyes seemed to be failing her, adding to her agitation and panic, another pain washed over her. Jessie's eyes fluttered shut, lids heavy once again, her breathing labored, as she slipped back into darkness, tired, exhausted, spent.

   Mitch knelt on one knee, pulling bottles of liquor from the boxes that had just arrived around back, double checking the delivery to make sure his supplier hadn't screwed up his order again. Slipping the heavy restaurant-sized bottles from the safety of their ribbed cardboard sleeves tube-shaped sleeves, he lay them on his bent knee, checking them off his clipboard, one by one. It was tedious work, hard on his knees and lower back, but it kept his mind occupied until Angel called.

    Sally raced passed him, back and forth, into the kitchen, to return with an arm full of plates. Life went on, hell it even prospered, the Dusk To Dawn packed with hungry patrons. Shoving an inventoried box up against the wall of the supply room, Mitch heard the phone ring, but ignored it, reaching for the next box, ripping it open with his pocket knife. Through the bustle of the crowd sounds and the music, he could still hear the phone, and Mitch looked up sighing.

    "Sally?" he called out, wondering why she wasn't getting the phone.

    "Busy!" she yelled back, politely smiling back at the customers, excusing herself for raising her voice, as she placed their appetizers before them, one by one.

    Mitch groaned, straightening up as quickly as his aching knees allowed him to, and hobbled over to the wall phone between the stockroom and employee lounge. "Dusk to Dawn," he mumbled.

    "SHE MOVED!"

    "How you holdin’ up?" Sally asked, glancing around the bar to see if there was anything left to be done in terms of clean up. Walking over to get some forgotten spider webs, she continued. "Okay Mitch, who was it?" she asked, turning around, expecting to find Mitch behind the bar, but finding only the phone dangling off the hook.

   "She moved.. I swear she did," Angel said, meeting Mitch at the door, "she even said ow.."

    "Gentleman," the nurse hushed, "quiet down, or take it outside. She needs to rest.."

    Mitch took a seat next to Jess, reaching for her hand protectively. "How is she doing?"

    "Her body's pretty badly battered up after her accident. The blow she received to the side of her head will probably have her slipping in and out of consciousness like she did a few minutes ago. We'll have to wait for her fiancé to get here, and hear what the doctor has to say about the tests we ran earlier today," the nurse said, looking at her watch, "or should I say last night."

    "Any idea when Zach will get here?" Angel asked.

    "I called the Wave offices, and told them about Jess. They said they'd get the message to Zach in New York as soon as possible.."

    Mitch sighed. Who knew how long it would take for Zach to fly home. All he knew is that between he and Angel taking turns sitting with her, they would be sure Jessie wasn't alone til he did arrive, a familiar face would be close when she finally did come out of her coma.

    "It is mandatory gentlemen that her environment be a peaceful one. Any agitation could prolong the time it takes her to come out of this," stated the nurse, jotting down the numbers off the various machines hooked up to Jess. "So, other than soft music, soothing conversation - these types of patients do pick up on their surroundings, especially sounds - we need to keep noise down to a minimum."

    The nurse, satisfied that the two men had listened to her little sermon, left the room to continue her rounds. Mitch leaned in towards Jess's face, and began talking to her. "Jess.. sweetie.. you need to wake up.. Angel and I are here, so you don't have to worry about anything.."

    Angel brought in an extra chair from the hallway, and sat down. Resting his elbows on his knees, he looked over at his friend. His mind went back to a conversation he heard between the ER doctor and one of the nurses who attended to Jess. Seems like the doctor thought Jessie’s accident was caused by drugs or alcohol or both. It had taken all his willpower to stop Angel from stomping over and setting the man straight, the mere fact that he didn’t wanna be barred from visiting Jess had stopped him from doing so. Happily, Mitch had missed the worst of it, and Angel wasn’t going to upturn the current calm by saying anything. Yet Angel couldn’t help but wonder what had happened. Jess.. doing drugs? Couldn’t be. That had never been her scene. Everything would be straightened out later, he reasoned, the sounds of the machines bringing him back into the scene before him. All that mattered now was that Jess came out of this okay.

    "I've heard about doing stuff to get attention," Mitch teased, stroking Jess's hand, "but this ridiculous. Besides, Thanksgiving is coming up and there's nobody that makes Thanksgiving dinner like you do.."

    Flashes of light intermingled with darkness, punctuated with little snipettes of memories, or dreams.. Jessie's confused brain didn't know which. Phoebe's tarot cards scattering to the floor.. Mitch singing.. the sensation of her body being tossed around.. the sound of a loud crash.. sights, sounds, sensations.. they all melted together into a blur beneath the newly familiar sensation of the fog around her head.

    As soft as a whisper, Jess sensed a soothing warmth coming from her right hand, and her fingers reflectively twitched. Mitch's reaction was similar to what Angel's had been earlier, yet, remembering the nurse's warning, he waved at Angel with his left hand. "Her fingers just moved," he whispered, excitedly.

    "She's a strong lady. Keep talkin' to her.. I'm sure that's what she's reacting to."

boombox.gif (5994 bytes)"Hey Jess," Mitch started, "you want me to bring my boombox over so you can hear some Eighties music? Would you like that?" he asked, leaning down to kiss her cheek sweetly, "move your fingers for me. You do that for me, and I'll send Angel right now to get a whole slew of CD's.."

    Jess could hear, faintly, behind the ringing in her ears, and the pounding of her pulse against her temples, ever so softly, Jess could pick up the sound of a familiar sounding voice - muffled, like what your voice sounded like through a cheap, statically portable phone.

    "Hello?" the quiet little voice inside her head called out. "I can hear you.. whoever you are.. don't stop talking.."

    She was lonely tucked away in the cottony darkness of isolation. When was this dream going to end? she wondered.

    "Oh my God! What happened?"

    Both Mitch and Angel did a double take at the sudden loud intrusion as the urgent question broke the silence of the room. It was Zach.

    "Jess.. my God.. I'm away for a few days, and all hell breaks loose?!" Zach said, his voice steadily escalating in volume, drawing the nurse back into the room in a hurry.

    "Excuse me sir, who are you? And are you crazy coming in here in the middle of the night causing a ruckus?"

    "I'm Jessie's fiancé. I was out of town. I flew back as soon as I heard," he said. Zach's jaw dropped in disbelief, when he saw how serious Jessie's condition was, face bandaged, her body hooked up to a multitude of beeping machines.

    "The doctor will be here to check up on your fiancée, and talk to you about her condition. Why don't you two fill Mr..?"

    "Blair. Mr. Blair.."

    "Why don't you gentlemen take Mr. Blair downstairs and fill him on what you know to this point about what happened to the young lady while I check the patient.."

    Mitch nodded, and set Jess's hand gently down before silently exiting the room, Angel and Zach in tow.

    The muffled voice started to recede into the tunnel like quiet. "No.. don't leave.." Jess's mind yelled. I don't like this dream anymore. I wanna wake up. Please.. let me wake up..

    Getting some high octane coffee out of the machine downstairs, Angel started to fill Zach in on what he knew. Things were tough enough without the two men in front of him clashing.

    "Jess helped us out decorating the bar for tonight's costume party. She was there all night having a good time.."

    Zach puffed on the end of a cigarette in agitation. "So if it was such a wonderful evening as you are suggesting, how did this happen?"

    For once Mitch couldn't blame Zach for being irate. Leaning up against the outer wall of the hospital, he too wondered what had happened last night. The place had been packed, with people drinking, eating, and all in all having a great time. Mitch thought back, trying to remember when last he saw Jess.

    "It was kinda odd that Jess didn't say goodbye before she left.. when did she actually leave? Mitch?" Angel asked.

    "I'm trying to remember.." Mitch said, trying to concentrate. One minute she had been there, and the next thing Mitch could remember was Jess heading for the door. "I think I can remember having seen Jess walk outside.."

    "And you didn't go and check on her?" Zach scolded. "Some friend you are.."

    "The place was packed, and I was cornered behind the bar mixing drinks," Mitch answered.

    Zach glared at Mitch. "As far as I know Jess is a perfect driver. So how do you explain her getting into a car wreck? Hmm?" he asked, taking a long drag on the cigarette. "Could it be that you, her 'friend', served her booze irresponsibly, then didn't take away her keys when you should have?"

    "Now wait a damned minute," Mitch said, jumping at Zach.

    "Wo, calm down here fellas," Angel said, getting between Mitch and Zach. "First of all I've never known Jess to be much of a drinker.. and on the rare nights she has tide one on, she never drove drunk. Neither of us would have allowed her to drive that way even if she ever would have wanted to," he said, meeting Zach's gaze, "not that she ever has. She's a smart lady."

    It was Mitch now who needed a drink. Why hadn't he paid more attention last night to what had gone on? If he would have, maybe all of this could have been avoided. Mitch closed his eyes and tried to visualize the previous night's festivities. Jess, in the perfect costume of gypsy, right down to the long, loose dark curls. She had mingled all night, not once coming over to the main bar to order a drink, well, other than for the Monster Punch.

    "From what I can remember, Jess drank punch all night," Mitch said, calming down.

    "Punch?" Zach scoffed, "and what was in this punch?"

    "Lemon and lime juice, some green food coloring, a little rum and a little vodka.. nothing too heavy.. we cut it down with a bunch of ice and frozen fruit.."

    Angel looked up at Mitch. Could the punch have been spiked some time during the evening? He couldn't see how. The Dusk to Dawn wasn't a college bar. Most of their patrons were beyond the age where they drank to get trashed. Besides, there were too many bar staff floating around for it to have been spiked by some smart ass trying to be funny. Angel too thought back to the party, trying to see if he could remember anything odd regarding Jessie. Yet other than seeing her look a little peeked - which Angel attributed to all the bodies in the place - nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

    "This is all your fault, so don’t try to weasel your way out of it. I want you to stay the hell away from Jess. You’ve done enough.." Zach spat, getting up into Mitch’s face.

    "Back it up," demanded Angel.

    "You'd better hope she doesn't say otherwise when she wakes up, or I'll have my lawyers all over your sorry butts," stated Zach, before he turned to walk back inside.

    Mitch was seething, and his brain told him he either left now or risked ripping Zach limb from limb.. Where had Mr. Wonderful during all this? How could he propose to Jess and just take off, and not even think to bring her with him? ZACH was the one who should be feeling guilty in all of this.. not him, his mind reasoned.

    The anger was pounding inside him, and Mitch was about to race after Zach, when Angel stopped him. "Go cool off. I’ll be here.. GO.."

* * * * *

Copyright © 1998 Susana Audrain and Richard Tingle All rights reserved, which includes the right to reproduce this novel or portions thereof in any form whatsoever except as provided by the U.S. Copyright Law.

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