Chapter Twenty Two

book1.gif (2058 bytes) Not a word, not a touch all night long. Fine by me, Jess had thought, retreating to the familiar comfort of her own bed and the escape of a good book. The softness of the comforter and the cool smoothness of the high thread count sheets against Jessie’s skin had lulled her to sleep. Still hurting from the accident, it was a deep, medicated slumber, but anything was better than the constant interruptions back at the hospital. The unexpected annoying buzzing rattled Jessie out of sleep, and she groaned, taking the fluffy pillow she held in her arms and smooshing it over her head. Still not fully awake, for a second Jess forgot she was at home and fumbled around for the call button for the nurse, ready to chew someone’s head off for the less than pleasant awakening. "Wouldn’t you know it," she muttered, fully awake now, "my first morning at home and some idiot has to be cutting the grass at the crack of dawn."

    Fumbling around, she jammed her knuckle on the night table and cursed, loud enough for Zach, who was shaving in the bathroom to hear.

    "Very feminine Jess," Zach called out through the open door.

    Sucking on her throbbing finger, Jess was fully awake now, realizing that she wasn’t in the hospital but at home. Then where was that retched noise coming from? she thought. Zach.. "Zach?" she said, as she made note of the fact that his side of the bed was untouched.

    "Nothing like a foul mouth to start off the day right," he said. Jess had never been a morning person, and it was common knowledge that she should be left alone until she had gotten her first cup of coffee in the morning - light and sweet – and Zach had almost considered bringing her a cup to bed. But he was still steamed over not getting any the night before.

    "What is that infernal racket?" Jessie asked, fighting for the will to drag herself out the warmth of the bed. How many times had she gone through the same motions, dragging herself out of bed in the morning after a long, passionate night of sex with Zach. All the pillows in the world could never match the sense of warm contentment she got from waking up in Zach’s arms, legs tangled in his, head resting on his chest.

    "Geez, from the way you’re bitching and moaning it sounds like you’re nursing a hang over," Zach said, peeking out the bathroom door so that she could see that he was shaving. "What did you do sneak out into the living room and grab some more beers? If you wanted to tie one on I woulda joined you.."

    "We didn’t exactly go to bed on the best of terms last night Zach," stated Jess, "we couldn’t even manage to share the same bed." Jessie padded silently across the bedroom towards the bathroom to take a pee. The scent of Zach’s cologne stopped her in her tracks. "And to answer your question, no, I didn’t tie one on last night.."

    Pretty boy that he was, Zach continued his meticulous examination of his chin, leaning way in towards the mirror above the sink as he ran the electric razor over his chin again and again. I’m the one who should be cranky here, he thought, skimming his hand over his skin to check out his shave, bumping his crotch as he leaned over the sink. Last night had tested his patience, but Jess didn’t seem to get it.

    "And who’s fault is that Jess? You’re the one who went to bed early with a book instead of me," Zach said, adjusting himself uncomfortably through his boxers.

    Jessie couldn’t help but grin as she reached back to flush. He was pouting. It was one of the qualities that she found so endearing about Zach – his ability to let the boy inside him shine through. Sure, as most children do, Zach could be demanding in his needs. In his eyes the world revolved around him, and he looked at events, at that moment the fact that he had slept on the couch out in the living room, as a slight to HIM. It would be so easy for her to get annoy or mad, but as she crossed into the doorway by their double sinks, Jess smiled, gazing at her fiancé through her lashes, looking so cute in his red silk boxers. Bet I know what’s on your mind.

    "There’s nothing I love more than falling asleep snuggling up to you sweetie," she smiled, searching his face for a response. "I love you.. but we can both be such babies sometimes." Zach placed the electric razor in its charger, and leaned up against the sink. He set his jaw sternly, trying to stay mad, but Jess could see a smile slowly starting to emerge across his lips. Yet he wasn’t saying a word. It would be up to her to make the peace this time. Jess rubbed her forearms quickly. "I missed you last night. A girl gets used to a warm body to curl up with at night ya know.."

    Zach’s resolve was melting away. He met Jessie’s eyes, and let his eyes slowly descend down the length of her body. The worn T-shirt she wore did nothing to conceal the fact that Jess was cold, her hard, erect nipples pressing against the soft cotton of her shirt. Jessie pressed her legs together, causing her shirt to shift against her tanned thighs, as she rubbed the ball of her right foot against her left calve. He had missed her too, his libido almost making him blurt out the words she wanted to hear, but he didn’t. Maybe if he played his cards right he’s use her guilt to alleviate to growing ache in his groin.

    "We can fix that," he said, smiling his best bad boy smile, and opening his arms to his fiancée.

    Jessie sprinted into his arms, throwing Zach off balance, and he laughed at her exuberance. Looping her arms around his neck, she pulled him to her, tilting her head back to kiss him full on the mouth. "Missed me too, didn’t ya?" she giggled, feeling the evidence of his arousal pressing against her stomach. "Mmm.. you smell soo good," she said, snuggling his neck and kissing behind his ear. If there was anything that turned Jessie on was seeing the effect she had on her fiancé physically. He didn’t have to say it. She knew he wanted her, and she was more than willing to oblige, letting the heat of the moment – one of many in their lives together – sweep them both away, the previous night’s tiff forgotten.

    Zach jumped right in, without a moment’s hesitation. His body had taken over, kicking into overdrive, his hands starting their hungry assault on Jessie’s body, grabbing her ass, and pulling her roughly to him. Zach plunged his tongue into Jessie’s mouth, her bed tousled hair curtaining his face, as their kissing deepened. He moaned, nuzzling her breasts through her T-shirt.

    Jess felt Zach’s body tense, and realized that the counter top pressed up against his back couldn’t be comfortable. Her own side was hurting, but she was just letting herself go, past the pain, into a pleasurable moment with her fiancé. "Ooh,Babe," she whispered, kissing his chest, "careful.. don’t hurt your back.."

    Zach took over, keeping their sexual momentum going, straightening up and picking Jessie up, heading towards the shower stall. Feeling Jess press up against his throbbing erection was almost more than he could bear, as he threw open the shower door and reached inside to turn on the water.

    "What are you doing?" Jessie giggled, struggling to maintain her hold on Zach.

    "Getting ready to get you all wet," Zach moaned, stepping into the shower stall.

    "Mmm.." Jessie, moaned, feeling Zach’s hand snake into her panties, "I’m already wet.."

    Jess watched Zach’s white cotton T-shirt start to darken, his wonderfully muscled chest clearly outlined against the wet fabric clinging to it. Jess tugged at his shirt, wanting free access to his luscious bod, joining him under the stream of water. Steam filled the shower stall around them, matching the heat between them, as she discarded Zach’s shirt, hungrily kneading and massaging her way up his chest. "I want you," she moaned, lifting her chin for a hot kiss.

    Zach returned the ardor of her kisses, threading his fingers through Jess’s hair roughly, feeling her body quiver, as he lowered his head to nibble at her breasts, the shower’s stream blinding Jessie, muffling her moans. Zach tore at her nightshirt, pulling it over Jessie’s head, he took her breasts in his hands, licking and sucking on her erect nipples. At feeling Jessie’s hands descend down his sides, coming to rest on the wet waistband of his boxers, Zach moaned, feeling his boxers slide down his legs, setting his erection fee.

    "Oh baby," he hissed, yanking Jessie’s panties down as he felt Jess fondling his throbbing penis.

    Zach’s gaze instinctively lowered, following the stream of water streaming down between Jessie’s breasts, his need to enter her more than he could stand, when suddenly he caught site of Jessie’s side, her black and blue bruises glistening in the steamy shower stall. Gritting his teeth, he looked away, quickly turning Jessie around, so that her back was to the shower wall. Meeting her eyes, he groaned again. The water had slicked back Jess’s hair, exposing the garish black-stitched scar by her left temple. Pushing ahead, Zach picked Jess up by her waist, lifting her, pressing her up against the wall.

    Jessie winced, wrapping her legs around Zach’s waste to alleviate the pain in her side from how Zach had lifted her. One thrust, and he was inside her, pleasure wiping away any thoughts of pain. Water beat down on them, and Jess arched her back, meeting Zach’s thrusts, biting his shoulder as she felt herself getting close to the edge.

    Zach quickened his pace, his need for release ever mounting, concentrating on the feel of Jessie’s wet breasts pressed against his chest, the feel of her walls gripping tightly around him, anything to distract himself from the new, unwanted imperfections on his fiancée’s body. He had to give it to Jess, she was a hot little number, unabashedly grabbing his ass and pressing him deeper and deeper inside her. A major stroke to his ego, he smiled, breathing heavily into Jess’s left ear, enjoying the fact that he could cause Jessie to come unglued. He could feel her heart pounding against his chest, her moans a constant reminder of just how a good a lover he was.

    "You’ve always wanted me, haven’t you Jess?" he purred, into her ear, "I can tell with you moaning for me like this.."

    Even with the steam and being so close to Zach, Jess flinched, a wave of anxiety washing over her. "I love you Zach," Jessie cried out, terrified at the emotions she was experiencing. What was wrong with her? Jessie clung to her fiancé, as she choked back the tears that had overcome her.

coffee3.gif (1758 bytes)"Angel?" Mitch said, following his nose downstairs towards the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Angel was seated at one of the tables in the employee lounge, sipping a cup of coffee while reading the morning paper. "There you are. Good morning," Mitch said, making a beeline for the coffee pot.

    "Mornin’," Angel answered, from behind the newspaper.

    "How ya doin’?" Mitch asked, stirring some milk into his coffee, "I was kinda worried about you last night, since you went upstairs early and all."

    "Had one hell of a headache,"Angel lied, "so I decided to cut out early. You know how grouchy I can be.."

newspaper1.gif (2037 bytes) "I wish you woulda said something. I have some aspirin behind the bar. I wanted to talk to you last night, but when I got upstairs you were already asleep." Mitch paused for a moment, wondering why his friend hadn’t put down the paper to talk to him. "You okay Angel? I’m a good listener.."

    Angel set the paper down and put on his best Academy Award winning performance. "Thanks for the concern, man, but let’s just say I was experiencing my own form of PMS last night. I just wanted to be alone in peace and quiet and give my headache a chance to go away."


    Angel was never good at lying, in fact he hated to do it, but in this case it was for the best. The fewer people involved in his mess the better. "How about a refill on the Joe?"

    "Sure thing," Mitch smiled, getting up to grab the pot of coffee, relieved that there was nothing else wrong with his friend.

    Just then the phone rang. Luckily Mitch had his back turned, so he missed Angel just about jumping out of his skin at the sound of the phone ringing. "I got it," he said, starting to get up.

    "Sit," Mitch said, "finish the sport’s page. You know the Dolphins have been doing pretty well lately..hello, Dusk To Dawn.."

    "Mitch, it’s Lynn.."

    "Well look who decided to call.."

    Angel perked up, trying to hear what was being said, his heart pounding in his chest.

    "Shut up Mitch, I didn’t call last night because I got home late from my mom’s."

    "They don’t have phones in Boca?"

    Boca? Angel thought.

    "Yes smart ass, they do, I kinda lost track of time what with mother and Kelly and all. Kelly’s fine that’s all that matters, so stop bustin’ my chops."

    "I’m not quite finished yet. Did you blow off Krystal’s invitation to bring Kelly riding yesterday or did you forget that too?"

    Angel relaxed. It was Lynn on the phone and not Martini.’

    "Blow it out your ass Mitch," Lynn spat, stressed enough worrying about her meeting with Nick. I forgot okay? And just because you wanna get a roll in the hay with the woman doesn’t give you the right to be nasty to me over the phone. Besides, I bet the two of you made good use of your time alone.."

    She was right. He was bein’ a shit. He himself had forgotten about their date to go writing.

    "Anything else Lynn?"

    "Actually yes. Any chance that Krystal would give us a raincheck on yesterday? Well, not us, you and Kelly. I have a few errands I need to run. Would it be okay if I dropped Kelly off?"

    "Sure that’s fine. Just let me know if you’re gonna be late, okay?"

    "Sounds fair to me. I’ll be dropping Kelly off within the hour. See you then."

    "Okay, bye."

   "Daddy, Daddy!" Kelly beamed, running up to Mitch and hugging his legs.

    "Hi sweetie!" Mitch smiled, picking up his daughter and giving her a big hug and kiss. "How’s Daddy’s big girl doing?"

    "I went to Grandma’s and I told her all about my pony! Mommy told Grandma I had a good seat."

    "Mommy’s right. You are a great rider."

    "Can we go see Penny today Daddy? Can we? Please?" Kelly pleaded, looking up at her father with big puppy dog eyes.

    "I’m sorry sweetie, but Krystal has other things she has to do today. But we’ll go see Penny soon, I promise."

    Spotting Angel as he emerged from the back, Kelly squirmed in Mitch’s arms until he set her down "Hi Angel!" she said, running back to greet her friend.

    "She really loves that pony," Lynn said. "It’s all she talked about yesterday at Mother’s."

    Mitch couldn’t help but notice the way Lynn was dressed. Not really a jeans and T-shirt kind of girl, so when she did wear jeans it was very out of the ordinary. Maybe there was a bug going around, the same bug that had hit Angel.

    "Krystal’s kinda standoffish with me at the moment. I forgot about our date to go over to the ranch too."

    "YOU? Wow, musta been a quite a distraction. Wait.. lemme guess.. Jessie?"

    "She got discharged yesterday.."

    "How is she doing?"

    "Other than for the stitches on her forehead and some big time bruising on her side, the doctor thought she was doing well enough to go home."

    "She’s very lucky." Lynn paused, feeling the knot starting to tighten again in her stomach. She dreaded going to see Nick, but she had to get it over with. "Well I need to get going. Kell, baby, come say goodbye to momma.."

    Kelly came back towards her parents her mood clearly change. "Angel’s got a tummy ache," she said, kissing her mother.

    "A tummy ache? Did he tell you that sweetie?" Mitch asked.

    "No. But his face looks sad, just like me when my tummy hurts."

    "Well maybe when we go to the park we can take Angel with us. Nothing like a picnic on a beautiful day to make someone feel better," Mitch said.

swing1.gif (1833 bytes) "A picnic in the park?!" Can we go on the swings, and the seesaws and.."

    "Anything you want sweetie," Mitch laughed, "well have fun, you’ll see."

    "Angel come play with us," Kelly said, running up to Angel.

    Angel couldn’t help but smile. Even a child could see that something was wrong. In her innocence way, Kelly thought that a trip to the park would fix everything. Angel wished it were that simple but he knew all too well that it wasn’t.

    "I would love to darlin’ but I’m not feelin’ too good. Besides, I have to stay here and help out Sally and Betty." Seeing the look of disappointment on the little girl’s face, he tried his best to reassure her. "We’ll see how I’m feeling later sugar. If I’m feelin’ better and it’s not to busy here I’ll catch up with you and your daddy."

    "Well you be sure to mind Daddy and Angel, and hold Daddy’s hand when you cross the street," Lynn said, hugging her daughter goodbye, "Mommy needs to go run some errands. Have fun sweetie."

   Lynn’s hand felt like lead as she went to knock on Nick’s motel room door. Part of her wanted to turn tail and run, and rip the film out of the canister. Yet after what she had seen of Nick that fateful night, she was too scared to leave. Who knew what Nick could be capable of if she crossed him. He could even lash out at Kelly, and even if she could be a bitch at time, Lynn was a good mother.

    She had dressed down for their meeting, wanting to remain as inconspicuous as possible. Dressed in her only pair of jeans, a long sleeved cotton pullover and some sneakers, in her mind she could pass for the ‘white trash’ she was stooping to visit. Might as well get this over with, she thought, knocking quickly before she changed her mind.

    "Right on time, "Nick said, as he opened the door, "I was starting to wonder if you had flaked out on me. You made the right choice. What?" he asked opening the door even wider, "don’t tell me you’re getting all shy on me now, when we’ve already made it to home plate several times."

    "Nick! I didn’t know you were such a romantic!" Lynn rebutted, rolling her eyes.

    "So where’s the film Blondie?"

    "Right down to business," Lynn said, her trepidation evolving into anger and annoyance.

    How in the world had she allowed jealousy get her into this mess? Sure, she had never been a shrinking violet, always going after what she wanted, yet she had never delved into anything that might get her thrown in jail. JAIL. What was she thinking? Sure, Jessie needed to be taken down a few pegs, but this? At that moment, Lynn decided to take control back into her own hands.

    "Okay, let’s cut through the pleasantries," Lynn said, taking a seat in an arm chair by the door, and opening her purse.

    "Geez you women and your purses. What do you have in there, Jimmy Hoffa?" Nick asked, watching Lynn rummage through her purse.

    Yet it was all for show, a performance that Lynn was hoping would pay off, her own little insurance policy in case things got out of control. "It’s in here, hang on," she laughed, praying that Nick wasn’t going to catch on. She looked up at Nick, giving him a big smile, as she found the mini cassette recorder in her purse. "Oh, here it is," she said, handing him the roll of film as she pressed the record button.

    "This little baby is my key to the big time," boasted Nick.

    Okay Lynn, think.. how do you get the right stuff on tape without incriminating yourself? "What do you plan to do with that anyway?" she asked, dreading the answer.

    "It’s simple babe. Pictures of me and the delicious Miss Reynolds getting it on will be my meal ticket. I’ll just slip some choice copies into her purse with a little note saying something like.. hmm.. pay up or Zachie boy will get his own limited edition set."

    "How in the world are you even going to get that film processed? Those type of pictures aren’t exactly rated G.."

    "Got that covered babe. I have a pal who works at one of those one hour places. Hang out, I’ll be right back. We can mess around for an hour then go check out the picks together," he continued, giving Lynn a lascivious wink.

    Deciding she had heard enough, Lynn reached back into her purse and shut off the recorder. "Sounds tempting," she said, taking out her keys, "but I have some errands I need to run.."

    "You sure? I am my best when I’m in a good mood," Nick replied, running his hand up her leg.

      I’ve seen you at your worst, Lynn thought, and I don’t wanna be anywhere near you when this thing blows up. Nick didn’t seem to realize that by having the roll of film developed at a store he’d be running the chance of getting caught.

    "Yup," she said, standing up, "sorry. But I have to go. Hope you get what you want."

    "Oh I will. I will."

   Back at the Dusk To Dawn, Betty had called Angel back into the kitchen to check the dishwasher.

    "This thing is on its last legs. It’s not even cleaning the dishes right anymore," stated Betty.

    Angel had pulled out the machine, and was crouched down examining it in an attempt to show his manly prowess. Betty smiled, realizing that his boss had no idea what he was looking for.

    "You want me to call a repair man? I’m not sure if Mitch bought a service warranty on it or not.."

    "Might as well," Angel said, standing up. "No wait, maybe we should ask Mitch if we have a warranty. Major appliances are expenses to fix."

    "Tell me about it. My dryer went on the fritz last week."

    Sally was in the back room getting some clean linens when the phone rang.


    "Is Angel Bernardo there?"

    "Sure, just a sec. Let me get him for you. Angel!"

    Sally waited a few minutes and when Angel didn’t answer she spoke again. "Hold on. I’ll find ‘em. May I ask who’s calling?"

    "Tell him it’s an old friend from New York."

    "Okay, hang on.."

    She checked Mitch’s office, and the restaurant, nothing.

    "You seen Angel?" Sally asked Betty who was walking by with a tray of food.

    "Yeah, he’s in the kitchen."


    "Angel, there’s a call for you on the phone in the back room."

    "Thanks, darlin’. Did they give a name?"

    "No, but the guy said he was an old friend of yours from New York."

    Sally eyes widened, as she watched Angel turn white.

    "Yeah," Angel replied, "I musta caught a bug or something. Excuse me.."

    Just when she thought things were calming down at the bar, with Jessie engaged and Lynn off with her daughter most of the time, now something was up with Angel. Sally didn’t buy his line about having a cold. Nobody went pale like that out of the blue. So she decided to sneak back to the back room and eavesdrop.

    Hiding behind a pile of boxes, she leaned forward, straining to hear.

    "This is Angel."

    "Martini wants to meet."


    "Today. Half an hour from now."

    "Half an hour?" Angel gasped, taken off guard.

    "South East end of the Hollywood Pier.. You got that?"

    "Yeah, South East end of the pier.."

    "Good. Come alone." Click.

    Sally scampered away on tip toe when she saw Angel hang up the phone. This can’t be good, she thought, and pondered on whether or not she should tell Mitch about it. But Mitch would ask how she had found out and then where would she be? Nobody liked a nosy employee. I’ll just keep this to myself, she thought, for now..

   Jess didn’t have time to worry about the strange surge of emotion she had felt earlier because , after a quick breakfast, Zach insisted on taking her to buy a new car. She followed Zach and the car salesman around as they discussed horsepower, performance and all the other aspects about cars that women really didn’t care about. Still in a bit of a daze, Jess just concentrated on the fact that her fiancé was taking care of her in providing a new vehicle for her to get around in safely.

    Zach had proceeded to recount the fact that she had had an accident, and that he wanted to get Jessie a car he’d know she’d be safe in.

    "You seem like a fashionable young lady with a good head on her shoulders," the salesman said, trying to appeal to Jess’s ego. "Take a look at this beauty of a car. A 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee, fully loaded. A very reliable automobile.."

    "This one’s nice," Zach said, hopping into the driver’s seat. "A lot nicer than your old wrangler."

    "It’s nice," Jessie said, getting into to the passenger seat.

    "Nice? Look at this baby. Power everything, CD player, leather seats.."

    "Sporty yet safe. You won’t have any problems in case of an accident in this car," the salesman added, talking to Jessie as if she was the ‘dumb little woman.’ "If you don’t like the color we have a few more cars just like this on the other end of the lot."

    Midnight blue with a tan leather interior. It really was a nice car. Jessie smiled. Like a kid in a candy store, Zach was busy checking out all the gizmos in the car. She had to hand it to him. Zach didn’t have to get her a new car but he was doing it anyway. She couldn’t help but feel pampered that he wanted to get her a sturdier car to keep her safe.

    "No, this one’s fine. I like it."

    "Great," beamed the salesman, smelly the close of a deal.

    "Are you sure this isn’t too much?" Jessie asked, leaning over to whisper in Zach’s ear.

    "Too much? Nothing’s too much for you babe."

    "You’re sweet," she smiled, kissing Zach affectionately on the cheek.

    "Good deal," the salesman said, "now let’s go inside and take care of the final details."

    Jess stayed outside in the fresh air and let Zach handle the financial part of the deal. It was such a pretty day, and she didn’t feel comfortable snooping into Zach’s finances. Corny as that was, Jess still didn’t feel comfortable taking money from Zach’s father, especially since he really didn’t have to since they weren’t married yet.

    Fall was her favorite season in Florida, with its bright sunshine in crisp blue skies, and cool breezes. The climate had already started to change, a cool gust of wind causing Jess to cross her arms and pull up the collar of her brown leather bomber jacket. Already starting to feel better, Jess was even considering going back to work. The new car would come in handy in running around town doing interviews. It would be great to get back into the swing of things again.

    Jess couldn’t help but wonder what happened to her Wrangler. Must be pretty bad if it had been considered a total loss after the accident. Was it morbid of her to want to see it? What good would it do? Could seeing her old car spark memories of what happened that fateful night? Maybe she could call Mitch. He would know where they had taken the remains of her car. Turning on her cell phone, she dialed the Dusk To Dawn.

    "Hi Betty? It’s Jess."

    "How ya doin’ girl?"

    "Much better thanks. Is Mitch around?"

    "Nope. He took Kelly to the park for a picnic."

    "Sounds like fun."

    "Yeah, Kelly was tickled pink at the prospect of spending quality time playing with her dad."

    "Which park?"

    "I think they went to the one a few blocks from here, close to the beach."

    "Okay cool. Thanks Betty."

    "Anytime. Come by and see us, okay? We’ve missed you."

    "I’ve missed all of you too. Thanks. Bye."

* * * * *

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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