Author: Chelle Storey-Daniel
Pairing: Mark/Callie Callie/Hahn Mark/Addison
Summary: What happens when a man steps up and offers you everything you've ever wanted at the same time that a woman does? What happens when you're feeling things that you've never felt before and you question everything you thought you knew about yourself. Callie takes a journey that is rocky, wonderful, terrifying, and breathtaking as she realizes that there is one heart too many in her life and that's the one that she will have to break.
Disclaimer: I do not own Grey's or the characters. If I did, this would happen on ABC. :)
Dedicated: To the readers. Thank you! Your comments are much appreciated. :)
All my love, Ange, you rock. :)
"I think you should know that I’m sorry."
Seattle is a big city. There are plenty of places to hide from the rain and I really thought that Applebee’s would offer much needed seclusion from the downpour, but I was wrong. It’s almost noon and I’m meeting Addison for lunch and this ... this is actually the last place I expected to run into Izzie Stevens, but here she is. The pink, short sleeved shirt she’s wearing makes her look like a Barbie doll and I watch her adjust the strap on her purse and cross her arms over her chest. George once called her stacked. I wonder if he ever noticed the way she slumps and draws inward. She doesn’t look stacked right now ... she looks ashamed of herself. I take a sip of my Sprite before I say, "So apologize."
"I - I just did."
"No, you said you think I should know that you’re sorry and I don’t. So convince me." I kick the chair out across from me and nod at it. "Why don’t you sit down? You have a lot of explaining to do."
She glances over her shoulder at the door and I can tell that she’s contemplating running, but she doesn’t. Instead, she lowers her purse over the back of the chair and sits down. It’s heavy, she flops into the chair like she can’t hold the weight of herself up anymore. I watch her nervously rifle through the bowl of peanuts in front of us and wait for her to speak. She clears her throat three times before she finally does, "Look, Callie, what I did was wrong and I know that. I could tell you that I was scared the night he ... we ... damaged your car because this side of him came out that I had never seen before and I was terrified. He scared me. I was ... stunned. But then ... I had this big secret with him then so I thought I had ... *him*. The truth is ... I ... I finally thought someone cared about *me*. He made me think he did. And ... he didn’t tell me that he did the deer thing right away. I swear that to you. I didn’t find out at all until Erica’s car got damaged, too, and I confronted him about it."
"Is that it?"
"No." When she shakes her head, a blond lock of hair falls into her eyes and I can see that it’s oily, matted with dirt. "I became a doctor because I care about people. I - I know you don’t believe that, Callie, but I do. I like helping people. I like making people feel better ... because no one ever did that for me. Growing up ... I didn’t have the mother who worried about whether I had lunch money or the father who took me to the park. I had me. And I had this face that I used as my ticket out, but no one ever cared about what’s behind it, you know? Nobody took me seriously when I said I was going to medical school because I was just ... pretty."
"I’m playing the world’s smallest violin here, Stevens."
"I didn’t know what it was like to have friends or family until I started working here. And I am probably going to lose my job, which I deserve, but if I have to leave the only home I’ve ever known, which is Seattle Grace, I’d like to leave with a little of my integrity back." She pushes that lock of hair back, but it sticks up instead of lying flat. I think of ‘There’s Something About Mary’ and hide my smile in my drink. "I had a baby when I was sixteen years old. I gave her up for adoption and I made a promise to myself that the next baby I had ... I’d give things to it that I never had. So ... I wanted to give it a dad and Savoy ... sucks ... but he got me pregnant. He’s the father. I guess I felt like ... I had to deal with what he did to you and Erica to ... fit into his life. I didn’t mean for it to escalate or for you to get hurt."
"I didn’t get hurt."
"Then I’m really glad."
"That’s all really pretty. Pretty, pretty words from the pretty, pretty girl, but it doesn’t explain why you hate me."
"George is the only person who ever made me feel important. I was ... safe with him. He didn’t see the supermodel. He didn’t make me feel like a piece of meat. And then you were there and he wasn’t around anymore and I had depended on him so much that I went a little crazy."
"A lot," she concedes. "I confused being co-dependent with being in love. I just ... I think I missed Denny so much that I made George become Denny in some ways."
"I didn’t really ask you for your life story." I lean forward, resting my elbows on the table. "Poor, poor pitiful you. You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t cry you a river just because you had a shitty childhood or had a kid when you were one yourself. I don’t care. Everybody grows up in the mud, Izzie, most people wash it off and move on ... they don’t start slinging it at everyone else."
"You know I’m testifying against him, right?"
"Do you want a gold star?"
"No. I want you to understand that I get it. And I’m willing to accept the consequences."
"But you don’t think you should lose your job?"
She shakes her head no. "I’m good at what I do."
"Seems to me if you spent as much time being a doctor as you spent trying to fuck with me -"
"Look, I’m trying like hell to make you understand where I’m coming from. My life sucks and I took it out on you. It won’t happen again and if I don’t lose my job ... I’ll go out of my way to be a decent coworker. Because I am a doctor and I busted my ass to get there. I’m sorry and if you could accept that ... then ... I just want you to accept my apology."
My pager goes off and I groan when I see that it’s Webber. I’ve been summoned to his office twice in the past few days and both times it was to be yelled at for being distracted. As I clear the message and fish money for my drink out of my purse, I do a mental inventory of recent patients. I haven’t killed, maimed, or screwed anybody up. So ... I’m drawing a blank. I get to my feet and say, "I didn’t forgive you for what you did with George and I’m not going to forgive you now. I think the way you grew up is sad, but I don’t give a shit. Being a victim doesn’t give you free reign to victimize other people. And you may have something more going for you than good looks, but I don’t see it. I see someone so stupid that they’re pissing away the career they sold her body for. So if you get to stay at Seattle Grace, don’t go out of your way to be decent to me. Go out of your way to be decent to yourself because that kid you’re carrying deserves better."
I leave her at the table and head out into the rain.
When I open my umbrella ... it sounds like the wings of a great, big bird taking flight.
And that’s how I feel as I run across the road toward whatever is waiting for me in Webber’s office.
I’ve spread my wings, said my peace ... and I’m flying.
It’s funny how speaking your mind can make you weightless.
"I called you both here to discuss this situation with Savoy and Stevens."
I let out the breath that is threatening to cave in my lungs and relax for the first time since Webber paged me to his office. I endured the walk to his domain trying to process what I could have possibly done to incur his wrath, but luckily it’s not about me. Erica, who was already sitting across from him when I arrived, pats my hand and I swear that it’s because she’s so attuned to me that she knows when I’m about to have a heart attack. I relax into the chair and listen to the air go out of the seat all the way before I speak. "What about them?"
Richard opens a box of hard candy and holds it out to me, then Erica, but we both shake our heads no. "It’s my understanding that Savoy is facing jail time."
"The District Attorney is interested in prosecuting the fuckstick within the full extent of the law," Erica tells him and covers my hand with hers now, holding on tight. "Malicious Harassment is one of the charges and it comes complete with a restraining order and up to five years in jail."
I watch Richard select a butterscotch and pop it in his mouth. He closes the lid on the box, but hangs onto it as he stares out the window. There’s nothing to see except for gray, overcast skies, but he still watches as the candy scrapes against his teeth. It’s been ten days since Savoy was arrested and every one of those ten days were rainy, muggy, and miserable. It completely ruined my plans of running through the streets shouting that it was finally over ... ‘it’ being the uneasiness of being a target. Erica and I ... we’re no longer targets. We’re holding the cards now and Savoy ... he’s the one with the bullseye on his back. Testifying against him will give *me* the power and the wait for the trial is going to kill me. I’m ready to seize that power with both hands and hold it over my head in triumph as I point him out in the courtroom. I keep practicing ways to say ‘He did it’ in the mirror, making sure I look forceful and brave. I’ve got to tilt my chin just so ... it’s pretty impressive.
"He won’t be coming back," Richard says. "His contract at Seattle Grace is null and void."
"Well, that’s only fitting considering that he can’t give within fifty feet of either of us." Erica’s thumb moves over my skin and I feel goose flesh on my legs.
I squirm in the seat and let my mind wander while they discuss Savoy. It’s not that I don’t have a vested interest in whether or not I’ll have to deal with him if he doesn’t go to jail ... it’s just that I have more pressing matters on my mind. Erica and I have not had sex since our fight. Granted, we both took turns with the heating pad and argued over the last dosage of Midol we had between us the first few days ... but nothing has stopped us for seven of those days ... except us. When we crawl under the cover at night, she picks up a book and I pick up my laptop and we distract ourselves from the bigger picture. More than once I’ve fallen asleep sitting up and she’s done the same, letting the book slide from her hands. We haven’t talked about sex or our lack of it, either. It’s the most non-verbal issue that I’ve ever had and I absolutely hate it. She still kisses me goodnight ... this sweet, chaste thing where she presses her lips against mine and then moves away before I can touch her face or hold her there. It’s so bad that I even asked Yang to smell my breath. She refused, but she did call me several names and I’m pretty sure a couple were in Yiddish.
Erica’s thumb is still rubbing my hand, but now she’s looking at me curiously. "You’re a million miles away."
"A lot on my mind." I wave my free hand, dismissing the fact that my head was somewhere in the clouds. "What’d I miss?"
"Are you okay?" Richard does that thing where he scrutinizes you without making you feel dirty. He’s seen everything, experienced even more, and can make you feel like he’s raking you over the coals with the intensity of his eyes. It’s probably a good thing he never had kids. They’d be terrified that the all knowing oracle he has in his back pocket would expose their sins alphabetically. "Dr. Torres?"
"Yeah, sure." I give him a smile that I pray looks convincing. "It’s just ... jarring."
"Jarring." He repeats my assessment of the situation and leans forward, resting his elbows on the desk. I involuntarily lean back a little further and have to fight the urge to dig my feet in and push myself away from his gaze. "I was asking for your input on Dr. Stevens. As you know, she is going to testify against Savoy in order for the charges against her to be dropped. She’s asked me to let her come back."
Erica snorts. "And I’ve already pointed out that Stevens should have been shit-canned for what she did with Denny Duquette. I don’t want to work with her, see her, or know that she’s practicing medicine on anyone for as long as she lives. That’s my opinion. Callie?"
"I - I don’t have an - opinion. Whatever you need to do, Chief, it’s fine with me." What the fuck did I just say? Did those words actually come out of my mouth?
"WHAT!?" Erica wrenches her hand away, looking scandalized. "She needs to be *fired*. She helped damage your car on hospital property. She knew that this asshole was responsible for *everything* that was happening and didn’t open her mouth and say a god damned word to prevent it. You have an opinion, Callie! Give it!"
"Calm down, Erica," Webber says. His voice is gentle, but firm. His eyes move back to me and he gives me a reassuring smile. "Before I make the decision about Stevens’ future at Seattle Grace, I want to know your thoughts. Do you feel comfortable working with her?"
"No," I reply honestly. "But I never have so this is nothing new."
"I see." He opens a folder and jots something down. "Do you feel unsafe, threatened?"
"I can hold my own."
"Yes, you’ve proven that by fighting her on hospital property," Richard replies.
"That’s neither here nor there!" Erica snaps. "And you know it, Richard!"
My scrubs suddenly feel too tight and stiff. I hate listening to people bicker and that’s exactly what Erica’s trying to do with the Chief. She’s practically growling in anger and he’s attempting to placate her and justify his questioning. I feel like the scab that everyone wants to pick. I scratch my neck, then my arm as I try to feel comfortable in my skin. Why did Izzie have to tell me that she didn’t have a mother who cared about lunch or a dad to play with her in the park? Now she’s *human* and not the pretty, diabolical monster I’ve always made her out to be in my head. She’s cracked ... there’s an ugly scar in her beautiful armor and she fucking *had* to let me see it. "I really don’t want to influence what you decide, Chief. Izzie is a bitch and I like seeing her in the hallways about as much as I like the idea of a gunshot wound to the head, but I don’t want to impact whether or not she has a job. Don’t put that on me. She’s pregnant and -"
"Like that matters!" Erica growls, drawing out the ‘r’ sound. It’s a dead giveaway that she’s getting pissed off. "Having quadruplets, God help us all, wouldn’t change the fact that she violated about a million hospital policies and ruined her own career. I don’t want her here, Richard. If she’s going to be here then I’ll have to seriously reconsider whether or not I will be."
He chews the candy as he ponders her words. It’s loud and I want to laugh at the absurdity of the entire thing. He’s chomping on candy, Erica is fuming, and I finally have the chance to obliterate Stevens and don’t want the responsibility of it anywhere near me. It’s not even about taking the high road at this point. It’s that I’ve lost interest in Izzie Stevens. She’s a non-issue to me. Giving her the time of day makes me feel like I’ve wasted moments that could be be spent trimming my toenails or picking dead ends from my hair. The twenty minutes I spent with her at Joe’s sucked the fight out of me. If she is sorry ... good. If she’s not ... whatever. I just want it it over. And I don’t want anyone’s blood on my hands.
When the Chief excuses us, Erica follows me onto the breezeway and her arms are crossed tightly over her chest. We make it halfway before she grabs my arm. "What the hell was that?"
"The truth," I reply. We both lean against the rail, but my posture is a lot more relaxed than the rigidity she’s carrying in her spine. "I don’t *care*, Erica."
"How can you not care?"
"All I did for *months* was care about Izzie Stevens and what she was doing. Hell, *who* she was doing. She has exhausted me too much to give a good god damn anymore. That whole chapter of my life is closed. Whatever happens to her at this point ... maybe living with herself is punishment enough."
"Hop off the sentimental express before you lose your backbone entirely."
"Don’t concern yourself with my backbone."
"Maybe Stevens should hire you for her legal defense. I can’t believe you didn’t stick it to her."
"If you want to stick it to her then knock yourself out."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"I refuse ... absolutely and completely refuse ... to fight with you. About this or anything else."
She sighs, clasping her hands in front of her as she watches people mill around the lobby below us. Her jaw is tight and she parts her lips a few times like there’s something on the tip of her tongue dying to get out, but she doesn’t utter a sound. I’m saved from filling the heavy silence by the arrival of Addison, who hands Erica a chart and asks for a consult. My girlfriend seems glad to have the distraction because she pores over the chart like she has a magnifying class, slowly and meticulously scanning everything. I watch her blue eyes dart back and forth as she processes the information and it’s so damn sexy that I can barely stand it. I’m almost relegated to humping her leg when she takes her ink pen from her pocket and bites on the lid. It’s one of her habits that is so mundane that nobody else probably notices, but every time she does it ... whether it’s with a straw, a pen, or her fingernail ... my stomach starts to flutter. I think it’s because I know what her mouth is capable of. I know what’s it like to have her tongue strum against me, her lips undulate ... her ...
Addison snaps her fingers in front of my face. "Earth to Callie."
I blink and look at her. "Huh?"
"Welcome back," she says, giving me an impish grin. "What planet are you currently circling?"
Erica has put the chart under her arm and she’s watching me closely, waiting for my answer.
I don’t know how to say that lack of sex is making me crazy, insecure, and miserable.
Luckily, I don’t have to say anything because my pager goes off again and saves the day.
I love pagers.
Maybe I should get everyone a pager for Christmas. It’s the gift that keeps on giving ... me excuses to run.
When I first went to medical school I entertained the idea of being a pediatrician. I love kids. I love sick kids, healthy kids, noisy kids, rude kids ... all kids. Tantrums don’t usually bother me, but as I try for the third time to lift a screaming, wiggling little boy onto the exam table and get a kick in the face for my efforts ... I’m glad that I went into ortho and not pediatrics. His shrill cry exacerbates the tension in my shoulders and I abandon the prospect of getting him to cooperate with me in favor of leaving him with his mother while I search for an ice pack for my jaw. I’m sure his leg isn’t broken. After all, it’s the one that connected with my head and he didn’t cry out in pain, but I still take it personally when I break the ice pack and settle into the lounge to regroup. Kids are always the most rewarding and most challenging patients ... I just wish I wasn’t challenged today. I’ve apparently lost my kid mojo along with my romantic mojo. Both are painful to experience.
I should be the happiest person on the planet because Erica and I will be leaving for Italy in less than a week, but that’s not the case. I’m actually terrified because I don’t know what’s going on in my relationship, but something *is*. Sex is not the most important aspect of anything ... but not having it makes me feel like my arm is missing. And I don’t know how to get around it. I’ve hinted a couple of times that I’m ready when she is, but that’s all it’s been ... a hint, a sort of invitation that was sort of declined by the presence of her pajamas. I took to wearing mine after day five, even though I prefer sleeping naked. And she actually *commented* on them. Not to tell me to take them off ... oh no ... why should she give me what I want?! She said they looked ‘comfortable’ which everyone knows is the most polite way of telling someone that they look frumpy and ugly.
The door opens and I glance up, nodding at George. He heads to the vending machine and when he joins me, he’s holding out a can of Coke and a red velvet snack cake. I accept both. "Thanks."
"So, Lexie says that your patient is giving you a hard time."
"Yeah, that’s one way of putting it."
"Want some help?"
"There’s nothing interesting there, George. I probably won’t even wrap his leg. He’s fine."
"I could use the company," he tells me. "And eye bleach if possible because I innocently walked into the supply closet to do my freaking *job* and found Sloan and Montgomery doing ... bad things. Evil, evil things. I’m humiliated and I was fully dressed."
"Yeah?" I can’t help but laugh. I kinda figured there was SOMETHING going on between them, something very debauchery filled, when one of the nurses randomly called Addy a slut in the cafeteria. Addison smiled like a freak, then ate my Reece’s Cup like it was a celebration. "Finally."
"Ew." He shudders, then sighs.
I finish off the first cake and watch him do the same with his chocolate bar. He looks haunted and I take a swig of Coke to buy a little time before I ask, "You okay? Other than unwittingly becoming a voyeur?"
"You know ... I’m really not. A guy coded this morning on my watch. He was old and his heart couldn’t take it, but ... I just had to tell his wife and grandkids. It never gets easier, does it?"
"No. It never does."
"Why are we doctors?"
I chuckle. "Because life would still suck if we weren’t ... we just wouldn’t get the added bonus of cutting people up."
"There is that." He slowly folds the wrapper that his Hershey bar came in, meticulously pressing creases. It’s funny, the way you can get to know people. He folds things, napkins usually, when he’s nervous or worried. A lot of doctors keep their hands busy ... like their hands will grow too weary to hold a scalpel if they’re not constantly exercised. I play video games when my head is full. "So, I wanted to apologize about Izzie. You were -"
"I don’t want to talk about Stevens."
"Okay." His green eyes are hauntingly familiar when they lock on mine. It’s funny ... the way people get to know *you*. "Want to talk about something else?"
There was a time ... that I told him everything. I couldn’t wait to share the details of my day and wait for his advice and input. He was my only friend, my confidante ... my *husband*. And despite his betrayal, I don’t hate him. He’s still the same George who happily pillowed my head with his chest while I cried about bad days. I haven’t forgiven him either, because the skin he flayed off me will never fit right again, but when he looks at you that way and the scar on his cheek makes you realize that he’s got battle scars too ... your tongue unfurls and you talk. "Erica and I had a fight a few days ago," I tell him. "It was bad. And the thing is ... I’ve apologized, she’s apologized, we’ve both cried and said that it’s okay ... but it doesn’t feel okay. I - I think maybe - maybe she’s still mad at me."
"So, ask her."
"That would be too easy."
"Do you want me to ask her?"
"That would be too high school."
"No, writing her a note with a yes or no at the bottom would be high school."
"That would be *middle* school, George."
"Oh. Well, I was a late bloomer. I was recently passing those yes or no notes." He smiles at me and shrugs. "I say talk to her. Relationships all work the same way ... and they all fail when you don’t communicate."
"Speaking of communicating ... are you fluent in Lexie yet?"
His face turns bright red and he nods at me. "Very."
"Good for you."
"My mom hates her."
"Well, I did set the bar pretty high." I pat him on the shoulder and push myself to my feet. "Let’s go deal with this kid. I swear, he has the most developed lungs on the planet."
I wind up operating on the screaming urchin.
You should never, ever diagnose someone as fine until you read their films.
I hope that Erica gets a good look at my chest x-ray before my heart bleeds to death with need.
The days leading up to Italy bring more of the same.
The biggest difference in how we spend our nights is the presence of a notepad on her lap while I surf the internet for things to do in Italy. She compiles a list of things we want to experience, jotting it down in her precise, neat, slanting handwriting. Everything is so efficient with Erica. She starts packing both of our bags four days before we’re scheduled to leave and it’s so organized, so well done, that I’m ashamed of my own packing skills. I don’t have to show them off, however, because she takes care of everything. She actually forbids me from messing with anything or adding anything because she has a plan. The day before our flight, I finish laundry and watch her put neatly folded underwear in their respective Louis Vuitton’s. She has pulled my luggage out for the trip and I don’t even mind that we’ll become a walking billboard for crime with such expensive bags ... I don’t say a thing.
I haven’t said a thing in days.
Nothing that matters, at any rate.
Neither has she.
We’ve laughed about sightseeing, joked about motion sickness on the plane, and cackled out loud pondering the possibilities of Ruma’s claws and Mark’s bare skin as he house sits, but that’s all. We’re acting like friends ... best friends ... but only friends. I haven’t slept in her arms. She sleeps with her back to me for the most part and if I wake up before her ... I struggle with keeping my hands to myself because hugging her cold shoulder would probably hurt more than not. A line of demarcation has been drawn between us and I’m too afraid that it’s been electrified to try to jump over it. One of us has to make the first move and my heart is begging me to do it. But I don’t. I can’t. The Torres’ Family Tree is rooted in pride. It really is ... miserable people stay married because their pride won’t suffer a divorce. Well, until me. I’m the first Torres in history, I think, to go there. My dad actually has a coat of arms that is supposedly all official and shit and it says ‘Pride Comes First’ in Spanish ... which is really asinine if you think about it because pride’s a bitch and too much of it is a bad thing.
I’m not making the first move.
She’s the one who overreacted.
She’s the one who hurt *me*.
Yeah, you try clinging to that when you’re sitting on the runway waiting for your flight to leave for three hours.
Three hours! Delayed! I’ve counted the minutes off on my watch, attempted to pass time with my iPod, drummed my fingers on my leg, and thumb wrestled myself. There is a special hell for whoever is at fault for flight delays. And even though our pilot’s voice is smooth as butter every time he makes the announcement that the wait is nearly over ... I’d still choke him if he was in front of me right now. With my bare hands. Which I now rub together as I tap my foot against the seat in front of me.
"Can you please be still?"
I’m in the window seat but staring at the airport is akin to watching paint dry. My ass is going numb, I need to stretch my legs, and the fact that Erica can calmly flip through a medical magazine and not feel the slightest hint of claustrophobia is infuriating. "I need to use the restroom."
"Then go use the restroom. Whatever you need ... just ... stop moving around."
As if on cue, the captain comes over the loud speaker and apologizes for the delay, then tells us to fasten our seatbelts. He’s apparently sincere this time because we slowly back away from the terminal. Erica’s already wearing her seatbelt and it takes a nudge from her to realize that I took mine off after the first hour of confinement. I can’t get it to buckle, however, and she turns to help me. I’m aware of two things at once: there’s way to much cleavage involved because she pushes her breasts together right in my face and her hands against mine are soft, supple, skilled ... and wonderful. She bats my futile attempt away and fastens the belt herself and I feel like moaning in protest when she leans back against her seat and the cleavage is gone, the smell of lilacs is faint, and she’s back to thumbing through her magazine like she didn’t just try to seduce me in first class.
I’m no stranger to first class. My only real encounter with anything less was flying home from college for Christmas and I got stuck on standby after a snow delay. I didn’t work the cramps out of my legs for a week and forced Jasper to rub Ben Gay on them. That was a comedy of errors because a nine year old doesn’t really *listen* when you tell him not to rub his eyes. There’s plenty of leg room in first class, though, and I stretch mine out in front of me, popping my ankles. There’s a television that’s built into the seat in front of me, but it’s been playing the same shit for the three hour delay and I’m so bored that I can barely stand it. I shift uncomfortably, realize that my ass is going numb, and try to relieve a little of the pressure by crossing my leg. I kick Erica’s foot and she sighs, putting the magazine down.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see her watching me. "What?"
"You do realize how long this flight is going to be, right?"
"Six hours to New York. Nine ... since we’re already late."
"I can’t do six hours with you fidgeting. Why don’t you read a book?"
"I don’t want to read a book."
She holds up the magazine. "There’s an interesting article in here about new hip replacements. Want to read that?"
Reaching up, I turn the air conditioner vent on full blast and lean my head back against the plush leather. I don’t like to fly. I was pretty much scarred for life when I was fifteen and the plane that carried my family home from a vacation in Colorado caught fire. Jasper was asleep in the seat next to mine and after an emergency landing, complete with a hyperventilating woman screaming that we are going to burn to death, I gathered Jazz in my arms and he clung to me as we rushed for the exits. Naturally, he got a great big kick out of sliding down the slide ... I didn’t get anything from it except for an epic wedgie and heart failure. On the next flight ... that screaming woman sat in the aisle and she prayed the entire time, begging to cheat death again. It was quite the experience and while I’ve never had any other near misses ... taking off and landing will absolutely take my stomach every single time. I hate it. And turbulence will make *me* start praying.
"Are you okay?"
"You want some Dramamine?" She squeezes my left hand with hers and I watch her absently rub the diamond band that she put there.
Her thumbnail worries each diamond the same way my father worries his rosary beads. He does it when something is weighing heavy on him. Or when he regrets something. It makes me wonder if she regrets exchanging rings, living with me ... being with me. Usually, she can’t keep her hands off me. Before we fought and I spent the night at Mark’s ... we would usually make out on the sofa the second we got in from work. Lately ... we bypass the couch entirely and she sits in the kitchen while she waits for the oven to preheat for dinner. And I surf the web, lying on my stomach on the bed that we ONLY sleep in. God, it’s killing me. "Erica, you don’t think I slept with Mark ... do you?"
She stops worrying the diamonds. "No. I trust you."
Okay, I’ve decided to face it ... I’m a crier. My eyes fill with tears as the plane moves into line on the runway. It lurches to a halt as the pilot waits for the command and I grip the seat handle. I keep my eyes on the television screen and it swims in and out of focus. "Then why don’t you want me anymore?"
It’s her turn to fidget and she’s just as bad as I am. She shifts her weight, recrosses her legs, and alternates between gripping and barely touching my hand. "You’ve been really mad at me, Callie. I said things to you that I haven’t actually forgiven myself for so I understand it, but I haven’t stopped wanting you. I just - I don’t know what to say to undo what I shouldn’t have said."
I look at her and I’m shocked to see that her eyes are just as moist as mine. "I’m not mad! I told you I’m not mad!"
"Yes, you are." She doesn’t blink, doesn’t look away. "You avoid me at work. You hide out in the lounge at lunch or go somewhere with Addison ... and you haven’t invited me to go with you. You speak to me in two word answers when I try to talk to you and if you slept any further away from me at night you’d be hanging off the bed."
"Well, you sleep with your back to me!"
"If I sleep facing you then I’m going to be all over you and that’s not what you want."
"Don’t tell me what I want!"
"Then tell *me* what you want, Callie!"
"You! I want you!"
The plane inches forward and stops again. I’m ready for Dramamine, Valium, Morphine, Lithium ... anything.
What I’m not ready for ... is Erica moving her hand from mine ... to my leg. I’m wearing yoga pants that are thin enough to make me feel everything and when she hooks her fingers and I feel her nails on my inner thigh, I nearly pull the armrest off the chair. She faces straight ahead, her eyes intently on the television like it’s playing her favorite show, giving no indication that there’s anything else going on. When her hand moves to my stomach, my breath hitches and I squirm in the seat. She seizes the opportunity and slides her hand into the waistband, then under my panties. Her middle finger settles on my clit and she doesn’t move it.
She wants me to do the work.
I don’t move. I can’t move.
Leaning a little closer to me, she says, "I want you every second of the day. When I wake up ... and you’re warm under the cover beside me... I want to bury my face between your legs and wake you up by tracing my name against you ... with my tongue."
My hips undulate and my heart starts to pound hard enough that I can see it when I look down. "Erica -"
"I want you in the car ... like this ... with my hand down your pants. I want to listen to you come as we pull into the hospital parking lot ... because that’s a great way to start my day."
She increases the pressure and another finger ... God, I don’t know which one ... dips into me just slightly, pulling moisture back to my clit. I’m going to need the oxygen mask soon. "You -"
"Shhh." She leans a little closer and when she speaks again, it’s a whisper. "I want you in the on call room after I watch you bend over and I can see your panty lines under your scrubs. I think about bending you over the bed and fucking you so hard that you can’t stand it. And if I see you in the observation deck watching me operate ... I think about the way you look behind the glass in the shower. And what you taste like when you first step out of the water and I trace the droplet with my tongue. I want you, baby ... I want you all the time."
I push forward, increasing the pressure of her fingers and I can feel her breath on my neck. Speaking is out of the question ... I’ve almost swallowed my tongue. She circles, pinches, and scrapes the bundle of nerves between my legs and my toes curl up in my flip flops. She rubs my ear with her nose and says, "I want you at night, after you have driven me completely insane by rubbing your finger around your wine glass. Because I know what those fingers feel like in me ... when they," she curls her fingers as the plane begins to taxi down the runway and the knuckle in her thumb pushes against me. "thrust like that."
My own knuckle goes into my mouth to prevent me from screaming as the plane soars into the air. She slides two fingers into me as I come, feeling it for herself. "I want you," she continues, "when I’m at my worst ... because you bring out the best in me and I love who I am with you. I want you, Callie. I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that I always will and I’m not complaining. I love you."
I start to protest when she pulls her hand away, but I get it. We’re airborne and the attendants will begin their mad shuffle to give us everything we need. I turn my face toward hers and kiss her before she can move away. "I love you."
She pushes my hair back and smiles at me. "When we land in New York and have to sit there for a two hour layover ... you’re going to go in the bathroom with me and return the favor. Got it?"
"And you’ll stop fidgeting now?"
I nod and put my head on her shoulder.
She wakes me up after we land.
And I make her come twice in the bathroom before we board the flight that will lead us toward bliss.
The airport in Italy is definitely nothing to write home about. It’s hot, spartan, and full of exhausted looking travelers. I hear a million different languages as we attempt to find the baggage claim. I’m caught off guard when someone begins speaking rapid fire Italian at me. I guess I look native, which is interesting. I apologize in English and they say something back to me that is probably rude and unflattering, but I simply shrug. I should have taken Italian. Or French. Instead, I took Spanish which I already knew because it was a gravy course for me. Erica eventually figures out where our luggage is and we see that it’s been set aside since it took so long for us to find it. By the time we arrive at the car rental, we’re both frazzled and out of sorts. I’ve got both of our International Driving Permits and already took care of the car rental online so they get us in and out fast.
Which is not the greatest thing in the world.
When I rented the Smart Car ... I didn’t really think it would be a clown car. I was expecting something small ... you know ... like a Prius. What this car is though ... is the front half of a Prius and nothing else. I could probably bench press it. I’m appalled.
And Erica’s reaction when she sees it is nothing short of horrific. "CALLIE! WE ARE TALL AS HELL! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!?"
"It’s ... cute."
"You bitched about the leg room on the plane! And our leg room was roomier than this - this entire ... it’s not even a car! A ten speed bicycle is bigger than this."
"It’s environmentally friendly."
"It won’t make *me* friendly and I’m way deadlier than global warming."
"Everybody drives them here," I assure her. I open the trunk and grimace as one of the men in first class with us cranks a yellow Lamborghini and drives off the parking lot. "We don’t need to have a sports car, Erica," I tell her when she eyes a nearby Porsche. "We don’t need to compensate for anything. Look, this is ... it’s not like we’re going to be in the car that much anyway. It’s ... cute."
"No matter how many times you repeat that ... it’s not true. It’s not cute."
"That’s blasphemy. That’s like painting a Volkswagen Beetle candy apple red and expecting it to race."
"Hey, Herbie did it!" I lift the first suitcase and it pretty much takes up the ‘boot’. I close the door and attempt to shove the remainder of our luggage through the space between the seats. Erica finally takes pity on me and climbs into the driver’s seat, helping me push as hard as we can. It finally fits and I settle into the passenger side, securing my belt. She takes her camera from her bag and grins at me. "Smile."
"Oh! Come on! Pictures!"
"I promised your Dad." She snaps a photo of me scowling at her and then walks around the car, taking photo after photo of me crammed into the seat with luggage hitting me in the back of the head. If I don’t shove the camera up her ass in the next three weeks ... it will be a miracle.
I regret my decision to ‘go green’ the second we pull into the road and I feel like I’m riding a rollerblade. My shoulder rubs against Erica’s as she navigates the narrow streets and I have to stop myself from telling her how to drive because that’s a great way to get on her bad side. I’ve made that mistake exactly once and have yet to repeat it. To keep my eyes off the road, which should scab my ass since it’s dragging against it because we’re so LOW, I open up the directions to our cottage. They’re well done and we find the place within thirty minutes. I can barely believe it as we turn off the main road and the bustling city disappears. To the left, there’s a sea of sunflowers. To the right, there’s a vast, open field of green where horses are trotting toward the fence to greet us. "Stop," I tell Erica. "Right here."
She obliges by pulling off the shoulder of the gravel road, which she really didn’t need to do since the car doesn’t take up its half of the road, and I untangle my legs and climb out. There’s something about the smell of horses that always takes me back to Jasper. He loves horses so much. Most of his birthdays have always included a horse and he’ll ride until he’s bowlegged. I feel sentimental as hell when I step up to the fence and rub a brown stallion on the nose. He moves forward, butting me on the cheek and I pat him on the neck as he stretches toward Erica. She looks a little nervous as she strokes the side of his head.
"You’ve never been around horses, huh?" I ask.
"When I tell you that I’ve had a very boring life ... I mean it. Buddha was the first animal I ever had for more than a couple of days. My father would throw rocks at anything that tried to make nice with me. I didn’t see much."
"Then I guess I’ll have to show you the world."
She puts her arm around my waist and pulls me against her, kissing me. "What makes you think you haven’t?"
I hear the sound of hooves hammering the earth and turn in time to see a wiry looking woman in dirty overalls draw her horse to a stop. She glares down at us from her perch and scratches her chin as she appraises us. There’s open disdain in her face as she takes in our appearance, which I confess isn’t really nice. We’re wrinkled, weary, and it shows. I open my mouth to speak, but she says, "Do you like my horses?"
"Yes." Eric smiles apologetically. "We didn’t mean to -"
"You’re Erica Hahn," the woman says. "You definitely carry your German ancestry in your features. And you," she looks at me. "are Callie Torres. You’re not from Mexico. Are you Cuban, perhaps?"
"Half," I tell her. I watch her take the hat she’s wearing off and rub her forehead with a cloth. I feel her pain. I’m dripping sweat. The one thing I didn’t anticipate was the heat. It’s different than Miami’s heat, which can be sweltering at times. Her hair is mostly gray, but I think it was probably blonde at one time. Her cheekbones are high and her green eyes are large in her thin face. "Your accent ... is it Georgia? You sound a little like my mother."
"Close." She grins, exposing a row of dazzling white teeth. "South Carolina born and raised. I vacationed here with my family when I was seventeen and I never went home."
Erica gestures at the scenery around us. "Who would? This is beautiful."
"I didn’t say for the landscape, honey. I’m Claudine." Settling her hat back on her head, she nods at us. "I own Angela Abbey. Thank you for renting it. You bought that horse for me and while you’re a little late for dinner, I think it’ll still be good when you warm it up."
"You cooked for us?" Erica looks stunned. "Thank you."
Claudine shoots me a scathing look. "You need to teach her about Southern hospitality. It’s still the same ... no matter which country you’re in."
She tips her hat and winks at me. "If you need anything ... I’ve left the number to the main house beside the phone. Don’t hesitate to call me if you need anything, but I don’t expect to hear from you. The Abbey ... she has a tendency to be exactly what you need without any help at all. Y’all have a good night."
We watch her trot away as quickly as she arrived. Several of the horses match her pace and follow her, which sounds amazing. Erica nudges me with her shoulder and says, "Is that a Southern thing? Talking about a house like it’s alive?"
"I like her, despite the creepy vibe."
She holds her hand out to me, but I shake my head and bend down, plucking a lone sunflower from it’s spot near the fence post. I hold it out to her. "I like you. Wanna have sex?"
Taking the flower, she nods. "Absolutely."
Sex has to wait.
Angela Abbey was, at one time, a small chapel. The front is solid rock and there is ivy covering most of the stones. There’s a bell over the front door, large and brass, and a small cross that rises from the roof on a metal pole, casting a long shadow over the lawn. Erica parks beside the house after we ease past the front, commenting on everything, and I can see that the backside of the building has been completely modernized. There are floor to ceiling windows everywhere and I’m so ecstatic to see air conditioning that I can barely stand it. I had worried at first, when I saw how much Erica paid the travel agent, but if the inside is only half as great as the outside ... we actually underpaid. We decide to explore before we attempt to dislodge the luggage and we act like giggling schoolgirls as we lift the various planters around the front door to locate the keys. Erica beats me, like always, and opens the door.
There’s really no other word for it.
Everything Italy ... is inside the room.
The four walls of the living room are covered in murals, muted colors that capture Tuscany with it’s majestic vineyards and sprawling greenery. The furnishings are earthy, complementing the colors perfectly. There’s a plasma television over the rock fireplace, but I barely notice it because there’s so many other things to see. Erica opens an armoire that sits next to the fireplace and exposes an entertainment system that is state of the art. The drawers are stocked with movies and cds and I know that I can waste hours rifling through them all. Erica seems to realize that I’m tempted because she quickly shuts the doors and tugs me down a hallway into the kitchen. As impressive as the kitchen is back home ... this one is better. Everything is oversized and one entire wall holds nothing but wine bottles which is never, ever a bad thing. I never really cared for wine until Erica, but now I enjoy it ... probably only because she does. But I’ve acquired the taste and can’t wait to experiment.
I open the refrigerator and take out a casserole dish, pulling back the cover. The heavenly aromas of pepperoni, sausage, and heavy tomato sauce makes me realize how hungry I am and I turn the oven on to heat it. We both take bottles of water as we climb the spiral staircase in the corner of the kitchen. The master suite is upstairs and I gasp when I see the insanely tall bed and the step ladders beside it. It’s a sleigh bed, which I’m a sucker for, and the quilt covering it looks handmade. I run my hand over it and start to comment, but Erica opens the vertical blinds along the wall and I gasp as I’m drawn forward. It’s so hard to believe that a view exists that can compare to the one from our backyard ... but here it is.
I can’t believe the intensity of the greens. The trees, the rolling hills ... it makes the sky look like fading bruises as it bleeds into the horizon. I’ve never seen anything more breathtaking in my life. It’s untouched by man, from the looks of it. There are no buildings, no concrete or wires. It’s just an open expanse of NOTHING that feels like it could be the cusp of everything. Erica opens the sliding glass doors and we step onto the patio. I hear water bubbling and see the hot tub in the corner, then step to the rail and peer down at the pool. It’s bigger than what we thought it would be and I can’t wait to dive in and swim. My entire body is leading a revolt against me for sitting on my ass so much. Even prowling up and down the aisles in first class didn’t help circulation.
"I’d say I did okay," Erica tells me. "For someone who’s never had her passport stamped."
I move behind her, wrapping my arms around her waist. "I’d say you did better than okay. This ... this is paradise."
"So, you’re happy?"
"I’m better than happy."
She turns around, leaning back against the rail. Her hands move to my hips and she studies my face for a few seconds before she speaks. It’s unnerving. I swear to God ... having her map me the way she does can go either way. It can be the most erotic thing I’ve experienced or the most unsettling. It’s like she’s seeing into me when she does it. "Can I ask you something?"
Her face is tense. She wears her emotions on her face even when she tries hard not to. At least with me. I brace myself for whatever’s coming because just the hint of it feels heavy. I nod, even though I don’t know if I want to hear it. "Okay."
"When we have another fight ... and we will, Callie, because we’re us ... will you come home?"
I bite my bottom lip as I nod. "I have regretted not coming home that night every second since it happened. I’m sorry ... and yes ... I will come home ... no matter how bad it is."
"I swear." I rub her cheek and it shocks me that I can still marvel at how soft she is. I’ve touched every inch of her ... repeatedly ... but when she’s vulnerable like this ... she’s softer than silk. I could run my fingers over her for a million years and it’s incredibly fucked up that I won’t live that long because even if I die in her arms ... my last thought will be that I wish we’d had more time. "I was home that night in my heart, Yellow."
"I know. I saw you everywhere."
"What you said about me bringing out the best in you ... that’s true." I move a little closer to her and rest my hands on her shoulders, then move them around her neck. "I’m so proud of you for telling me about the anniversary of your parent’s death and letting me see how it affects you ... because that’s -"
"That was *not* the best in me."
"Yeah, it was. Maybe not the part where you called me a ‘fucking bitch’, but the fact that you can grieve for people who hurt you ... that’s the best in you. You didn’t become a heart surgeon because it pays so well or because it’s the most respected ... you became a heart surgeon because you have a big heart."
"If you blow my cover ... I swear to God ..."
"Your secret’s safe with me, but I think you should know that you wear your heart on your sleeve where I’m concerned. Everyone knows that I’ve got you right where I want you."
"That’s not true."
"You want me in the bed, but I’m not there."
"I technically want you in the pool." My stomach rumbles because the smell of our dinner has climbed the stairs and I give her a playful smile. "After we eat."
"What’s for dessert?"
"Like you have to ask."
I don’t think twice about stripping off my clothes and skinny dipping because there’s no civilization to be seen for miles. Completely naked, I dive into the pool headfirst and swim the length underwater. I can’t believe how cool the water is considering that it’s still hotter than hell despite the fact that the sun has set. I come up for air and smile because Erica is dipping her toe in right next to me. She’s one of *those* people who have to test everything instead of leaping with careless abandon into the unknown. At least she has no qualms about being in her birthday suit, which I take a moment to appreciate as she taps her the bottom of her foot against the water. Her legs are long and slender, but she has muscle that is evident in her thighs. Her hips are wide compared to her waist, which tapers perfectly before it contours out to her ribcage. Every single spot on her ribcage is ticklish and I’ve nearly made her pee her pants after playing them like an accordion on more than one occasion. And I don’t think there’s anything in the world that could be more perfect that the view from underneath her healthy, cancer free, C cup breasts ... unless it’s feeling them.
When she pulls her foot out of the water and lowers the other one, barely submerging enough skin to cover her toenail, I grab her ankle and pull her in. Just as I knew she would, she comes up swearing magnificently and splashes me in the face with water. Her hair is already wet and full of some kind of conditioner that prevents it from turning green so I don’t worry too much about dunking her again. Overpowering her in the water is so easy for me. She has pinned me to the floor on more than one occasion ... which she did a few weeks ago when I tried to eat the last of the ice cream ... but in the water ... I win. It’s something I realized while we horse played in the ocean behind my family’s house. She’s not *timid* in the water, but she’s a little clumsy. I torment her for ten minutes before I finally take pity and stop pulling her off her feet. She holds up her hand when she sees me coming toward her and says, "I will suffocate you in your sleep if my head goes under again! Callie! I mean it!"
I move against her and wrap my arms around her waist ... she responds by putting her legs around me. The opportunity is just too good to pass up. I slide my fingers against her cleft and her head falls back, giving me plenty of tender spots to kiss. I lick the pulse in her neck and taste the chlorine from the pool, but it doesn’t matter. I also taste *her* ... and I want to taste ... *her*. Turning, I tell her to pull herself out of the water and help her do so, setting her on the edge of the pool. I’m chest deep now and I pull her to the edge, easing her legs over my shoulders. When my mouth finds her ... she’s swollen with lust and so wet that I have to smile. What’s funny ... is that I never really understand why some men insisted on giving me oral sex. I didn’t think they enjoyed it. I didn’t know why the act was so appealing ... but now ... as I make her cry out and jerk against me ... I *get* it. It’s more than the feel of her flesh quivering or the way her release is something to savor when it finally hits ... what it really is ... is whispering to her sexuality, tying my tongue around her core, and relishing the flavor of something that only *I* can summon.
She comes without the aid of my fingers and I slide my tongue against her to feel the spasms I’ve caused. She clenches a handful of my hair and nearly yanks me bald before she drops back into the water with a splash. I’ve lost count of how many times she’s kissed me, but I’m pretty sure that none compare to the one she plants on me right now. Maybe it’s the water, maybe it’s the way my breasts bob against hers, maybe it’s the fact that we’re out of the country ... out of the world ... but whatever it is ... I want to be kissed that way every day. I didn’t even realize we were moving in the water until I feel the stairs against me knees. She sits down with me on her lap and leans down, taking my nipple into her mouth. I know what she wants when her hand moves between my legs. I push myself upward on my knees and sink down on her fingers, three, I think. It’s hard, it’s fast, it’s maybe even a little furious and I don’t know how there’s any water left in the pool considering how much we thrash and splash. I come with my mouth against hers and we stay there for a while, me straddling her lap while she holds me tight.
When we go to bed ... we sleep face to face, our arms and legs entangled like they should be.
Something tells me that Italy is going to be very, very exhausting.
And I can’t wait.
I’ll teach her to cut me off.
Oh ... yes ... I will.
I'm sorry I haven't replied to feedback yet. Please know that I love, love, love it and hope to hear from you. I'm always worried that people are losing interest or tuning out so please drop me a note. I promise to reply .. eventually ... because I have a feeling that the next chapter will get me as engrossed as this one did. :)
Thank you for reading me! :) :)
By the way, your prayers, vibes, and good thoughts worked. I'm happy to report that I am perfectly fine and haven't had to take any pain medication in over 24 hours. Woo. And hoo! Thank you! And you! And you! (you'd think I had taken the whole bottle considering how much sex was in this chapter.)