(Author’s Note: Please be aware that this story deals with adult themes and situations. Reader discretion is advised.)
“Wake up, sleepyhead,” a voice said as Roxanne opened her eyes. Whoa. Had it all been a dream? One glance at Shelly standing in front of her convinced her that it had been quite real.
“What time is it?” Roxanne groggily inquired.
“About ten,” Shelly answered. “Look, I’ve got breakfast down here if you want some after you get showered and dressed.”
“I…Yeah, that’d be great, thanks,” Roxanne said as she wrapped herself in a bedsheet. As Shelly departed, Roxanne rubbed the sleep from her eyes. She wasn’t sure how much sleep she had actually gotten, but it clearly wasn’t enough. How was Shelly so damn awake?
A short time later, Roxanne stumbled down the stairs after washing up and putting herself back together. She soon realized Shelly hadn’t just been kidding around. French toast, bacon, and eggs? A freshly-brewed pot of coffee? Roxanne was forced to conclude that the notorious ass-kicker Shelly Ericson was also a terrific little cook. Who knew?
“I talked to Paul already,” Shelly said as Roxanne chowed down on a breakfast she hadn’t expected. “He wanted to see you off, but he had a 9 AM meeting at the DeKalb Television Network and it couldn’t wait.”
“What did you tell him happened?” Roxanne questioned.
“I didn’t tell him anything,” Shelly coolly replied. “I left it to his imagination. He has a fairly vivid one.”
“Heh!” was Roxanne’s response.
“How are you feeling this morning?” Shelly asked. “I know we were up really late.”
“I’m fine; just tired,” Roxanne said. “You are one helluva chatterbox when you get talking!”
“Hey now, I seem to recall your mouth being involved, too!” Shelly shot back.
“Ahem!” Roxanne chuckled as she took another sip of coffee. “But seriously, how are you? That was some heavy stuff.”
“I’m good,” Shelly said. “Really, it was time to get those things off my chest. I just needed a friend to listen.”
“Friend?” Roxanne wondered. “Are we really friends? I always thought you didn’t like me very much.”
“And you were right,” Shelly replied sheepishly. “It’s been hard for me to get past what you did to Paul. Maybe it was easier for him to forgive you, because that’s just how he is. It’s sort of been my job to protect him. I might be a little too protective sometimes.”
“I can’t say I blame you,” Roxanne admitted. “I betrayed him in a very public way. But…I see how wrong that is now. Hell, I saw how wrong it was then, even if I did it.”
“I guess…I guess I can believe you,” Shelly said as she stared into her cup of coffee. “You could have made this way worse for me if that’s what you wanted.”
“I don’t,” Roxanne replied. “All I want is for us to be friends. Not necessarily close friends, or best friends. Just friends.”
Shelly looked around the empty mansion. “I think we are. At least, we’re starting to be.”
Roxanne took another bite of French toast. “For the record, it is incredibly obvious that you are all the woman Paul wants in his life. He is totally into you.”
Shelly sat back and propped her boot-covered feet on the table. “I know. But still, it’s hard not to be self-conscious sometimes.”
“You want to talk insecure, maybe that was one of my problems back in the day,” Roxanne confided. “Paul might be a flake, but he’s loyal to a fault. I abused that more than once.”
“You were young,” Shelly rationalized, scarcely believing herself how her opinion of Roxanne had already been altered. “You both came out better in the end. Leave it in the past.”
A melancholy expression washed across Roxanne’s features. “I probably should. It’s just…Paul found you, and the two of you are meant to be together. I wonder if I’ll ever find someone that special in my life.”
Shelly shook her head and sort of fake-coughed. “Roxanne, for someone so smart, you can sure be dumb sometimes.”
“Wait, what?” Roxanne queried in befuddlement.
Shelly dropped her feet to the floor and started to open her mouth. Before she said a word, she peered at the ceiling and realized some secrets needed to be kept secret. She leaned over the table and whispered into Roxanne’s ear.
“Really? You think so?” Roxanne reacted in astonishment.
“But I thought he was just flirting and being funny!” Roxanne exclaimed as she stood up and waved her hands in the air.
“And why would he keep doing it otherwise?” Shelly asked pointedly. “Why else would he be so persistent in his interest in you?”
That…was a good question, actually. Roxanne sat down and finished her coffee.
Eventually, Roxanne had to go. Shelly escorted her to the door and gave her a hug as they kissed each other on the cheek. The previous night might have started out uncomfortable, but it had changed them for the better. Roxanne felt confident of that as Shelly told her good-bye with a genuine smile, rather than a forced one.
“Oh, and Roxanne? You are buying lunch next time,” Shelly smirked slyly.
As Roxanne drove up to the gate, there was one more farewell to make. It was sort of necessary, since she wasn’t leaving without it.
“So long, Sparky,” she said as she leaned out the window of her Beetle. “It’s been real.”
“It was wonderful to see you again, Miss Prize,” Sparky answered as it opened the gate. “Do not wait so long between visits next time.”
As Roxanne headed back into Major City, she thought about Sparky’s words. Y’know, she had a feeing that it wouldn’t be quite so long before she appeared at March Mansion again. In fact, she would bet on it.
Roxanne looked over at the cellphone sitting in her passenger’s seat. Her eyes returned to the road, but then were drawn back to the phone. Dammit, she couldn’t wait. She pulled off into the parking lot of the nearest gas station and flipped the phone open.
Scrolling through her contacts, it occurred to her that “Blue Behemoth” was the first name on the list. It had been the first name on the list for years. Was that just an accident? Or had her life been trying to give her a hint that she was too preoccupied to notice?
Roxanne plugged in the hands-free set she kept in the glove box and dialed the number. She cranked the car’s engine as it rang, and just as she entered traffic, a gruff yet lovable voice picked up.
“Yo Roxy, what’s shakin’?” Blue Behemoth bellowed in his own unique way.
“Hey BB,” Roxanne said as she could feel her hands trembling on the steering wheel. “Just out for a drive and wanted to talk to you before I got back to HQ.”
“Anything wrong, babe? Your voice sounds a little funny,” the Behemoth noticed.
“No, nothing’s wrong,” Roxanne replied. “I’m a little tired still and I wanted to hear your voice. That’s all.”
“Well doll, ya got me!” Blue Behemoth retorted. “I’m all yours!”
(With thanks to Kayleigh Lebak, for championing this story and offering her invaluable input!)