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AUTHOR’S NOTE: This story is part of a series of stories that center around a lesbian relationship and lesbian sex. However, there is a nonconsent scene in this story that some of my normal readers may find difficult.
Thanksgiving Weekend . . .
The cold air of the early morning blew around the Big Mart building, punishing those lined up outside the store waiting for the doors to open. People jostled together, huddling for warmth in their misery as they waited for the security guards to open the door and preparing to be ruthless opponents as they rushed for the after-Thanksgiving bargains on Black Friday. Raegan Hall stood beside her sister. Her height gave her an advantage as she peered over heads in the crowd. She had her hands in her pockets. Her leather jacket was zipped and her scarf was wrapped around her ears. The wind stung her eyes, but anyone who looked into the brown pools would be shocked by the lack of life in them.
Lacy was beside her, the Big Mart flyer in her hand. She was talking about what her girls wanted for Christmas and plotting a strategy for grabbing the best buy on the gifts. Rae suddenly felt an elbow in her ribs and her eyes flew to her sister. “You aren’t paying attention,” Lacy said. “You can’t zone out, or you’ll get trampled when they open the doors.”
Rae coughed and shuffled her feet. “I can’t believe you talked me into this.”
“It’s because you love your nieces,” Lacy declared. “Okay, when they open the door, I want you to head to the electronics. Mary wants the Barbie video game and the Nintendo DS. Donald wants the laptop computer. Go for the laptop first. I’m going to the toys.” Lacy flipped through the flyer again, her eyes sweeping the toys on sale. “Do you want me to pick up anything for Will and Rachel?” she asked softly.
Rae tried to stare at her feet, but the crowd was too thick for her to see her tennis shoes. “No. That wouldn’t be appropriate.”
“Have you talked to her?”
“She knows how to find me,” Rae answered. “Laptop, Game Boy, and Barbie video game. Where do you want to meet after we’re through?”
“Shoes. No one will be back there. You’ve never done this before, so be tough. There will be a lot of pushing and shoving, and you’ve got to fight back to get what you want. Once you get them, hold on to them. I’ve had people yank things out of my hand before.”
Rae studied her sister and shook her head. “You are enjoying this way too much.”
“This is better than sex when you’ve been married as long as I have,” Lacy laughed.
People began jostling each other, pushing forward, indicating that it was almost time for the doors to open. Rae braced herself, armed with Lacy’s list, and began weaving through the people as they flooded the store. Lacy was pressed against her back, using her taller sister as a bulldozer until they reached the inside. As soon as they were out of the thickest press, Lacy took off in the direction of the toys. Following her sister’s lead, Rae raced through the crowd toward the electronics department. She got the laptop and handheld video game, but missed the last of the Barbie games. She headed toward the shoes to wait for Lacy, keeping a death grip on the box with the laptop computer. She sat down on one of the small stools out of the path of the frantic shoppers and waited for Lacy to return.
“Rae? Are you here?” Rae peeked around the corner. Lacy was pushing a shopping cart. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were dancing. She wore a large smile on her face. Rae stood and deposited her treasures into Lacy’s buggy. “Oh, you did well. I’ll have to bring you every year. Are you ready to get out of here?”
Together, they walked through the store and joined the line of people waiting impatiently to make their purchases and head to their next location. Rae and Lacy stood on either side of the buggy, guarding their cache. When they reached the check-out, Lacy began unloading the cart, an expression of relief on her face. Rae leaned forward and handed her sister items, hoping to speed the process for the people in line behind them. “Hi, Lacy,” a voice greeted and they both looked at the cashier.
Tara Roding Myers stood behind the counter, reaching for the next item to scan. Rae felt all the blood leave her face and her skin go cold at the sight of her former girlfriend. It had only been a year since she had rediscovered Tara and just over three months since the last time they had spoken. Rae and Tara had fallen hard for each other last Christmas, and then Tara’s deceased husband’s parents had threatened to sue for custody of their two grandchildren if Tara moved to Nashville. Tara had chosen to stay at home and Rae, brokenhearted, had understood.
Lacy shifted her attention to her sister and Tara’s green eyes followed Lacy’s gaze. “Rae,” she whispered.
“Hi,” Rae mumbled, turning her attention back to unloading the shopping cart. Tara and Lacy followed her lead, the line behind them putting a stop to any other possible response.
“How are the girls? Your parents?” giresun escort Tara asked as she continued to scan Lacy’s purchases. Her eyes kept flitting to Rae, who kept her face averted.
Lacy waited a moment for Rae to answer. When her sister didn’t, Lacy responded. “Good, good. What about Will and Rachel? The girls miss them.”
“We miss you,” Tara replied, her voice trembling. She scanned the last item and gave Lacy a total. Lacy paid it while Rae reloaded the shopping cart. “It was good seeing you,” she said, her attention directed to Rae. Raegan grunted in answer and rolled the cart toward the exit. Lacy and Tara exchanged apologetic looks before Lacy followed her sister.
She found Rae loading the back of her mini van with her purchases. Rae’s movements were quick and sharp, evidence of the pain and anger burning in her breast. “Raegan,” Lacy began.
“Don’t, Lacy,” Rae ordered. “I should have known better. I knew she worked there.” She put the last bag in the back and slammed the hatch. Without giving Lacy an opportunity to respond, she pushed the cart to the collection cage. They got into the vehicle and began driving to the next stop on Lacy’s list, the silence deafening.
Lacy finally broke the quiet. “How do you think she looked?”
“How am I supposed to answer that?” Rae demanded immediately, her prompt response revealing that she had been thinking of her former lover. “She looked beautiful and incredible and just seeing her reminded me of how much I miss having her in my life. She had bags under her eyes and she’s lost too much weight. She’s not taking care of herself the way she should.”
“Wasn’t that supposed to be your job?”
“What?” Rae snapped, turning her narrowed eyes to her sister.
“I seem to recall that you promised to take care of her.”
“Don’t pretend you know anything about it, Lacy. Don’t pretend to understand it,” Rae growled. “You can’t.”
“I know I saw a girl who felt the same way about you,” Lacy replied.
“There are obstacles, as a gay couple, that you can’t fathom,” Rae insisted.
“I know,” Lacy reluctantly agreed. “But I do know something about love. Donald and I have been together for eleven years, and I still love him as much as the day we were married. I know you are still in love with Tara, and I saw a girl in there who was still in love with you.”
“Love isn’t always enough,” Rae sighed, staring out the window. “She’s afraid to move to Nashville with me. I can’t keep up a long distance relationship. It’s not really fair to either one of us.”
Lacy made her turn in silence and parked the van at their next stop. She put the vehicle in park and shifted to full face her sibling. “It’s not, but why does she have to be the one to move? Ma would be thrilled if you were closer and Tara wouldn’t have to leave her family.”
“Do you think I’ve not thought of that?” Rae snapped. “What kind of job am I going to find here? I love my work in country music, and that’s in Nashville, not here.”
“What about one of the theaters in Pigeon Forge? Or even one of the radio stations in Knoxville? Surely there is someplace that could use your experience.”
Rae got out of the car and walked around it. Lacy emerged a moment later, flinching at the pain she saw in her sister’s eyes. “What if I give up my career and she is still afraid?”
Lacy hugged Rae tightly. “Love is never certain.” She released her sister and walked toward the store. Rae sighed softly, shoved her hands into her pockets, and followed. Lacy’s color increased as they neared the entrance and she explained her game plan for grabbing the best deals. Raegan shook her head at her sister’s excitement and held on for the ride.
They stopped for lunch at a fast food restaurant. Rae picked at a salad while Lacy devoured a large hamburger. Lacy had a sale paper and a list spread before her. Rae tried to pretend to be interested as she talked about what gifts she lacked. “What do you want for Christmas, sis?” Lacy asked suddenly.
Rae blinked in surprise. She stirred her salad as she thought about her answer. For the past year, she had imagined Christmas with Tara and Will and Rachel. She had thought about what it would be like to decorate their home together. She had pictured shopping with Tara to get the children something they would always remember. She had envisioned waking up Christmas morning with Tara in her arms and watching Will and Rachel play in her parents’ living room with Mary and Megan. She wanted that dream back for Christmas. She wanted that reality.
Now that she couldn’t have that dream, she wanted her heart to stop hurting. She wanted to stop feeling empty all of the time. Leaving Tara had ripped her apart, but she knew it had been the right thing for both of them. Now, she had to dream something new. “I want to go back in time till last November. I want you to go get the sage or the celery or whatever it was that Mom forgot for the dressing. I want you to walk through Tara’s line yalova escort while I sit at home and watch the parade and pretend I’m still in love with Jamie.”
“How is Jamie?” Lacy asked, relieved to change the subject.
Rae frowned as she thought about her former partner. She and Jamie had been together for several years when a promotion took Jamie to Ohio. They had agreed to spend the time apart and that had sealed their relationship. For a brief moment, Jamie had wanted to come home, but Tara had changed Rae’s outlook on life. “I don’t know,” Rae answered. “The last time I talked to her, she seemed nervous. I talk to her sister more than I do her, and her sister is not thrilled about the woman Jamie’s involved with. In fact, when Alice found out I had broken up with Tara, she suggested I go visit Jamie in Ohio. I think she thought I could rescue Jamie.”
“Did you think about it? You were always happy with Jamie.”
“I was comfortable with Jamie. It wouldn’t be fair to either of us. Especially right now. Jamie deserves more than being my rebound girl.”
“Do you think that Tara was a rebound girl after being with Jamie for so long?’
Rae immediately shook her head to say no. “Breaking up with Jamie was different and Tara’s different. I didn’t need a rebound after Jamie. I was over her.”
Lacy gave her sister another little half smile and picked up her pencil. “Rae, one time machine. Now, what can I get you if those are sold out?”
Rae laughed. “I don’t need anything, Lace. Give to the American Cancer Society in my name.”
“That’s not very fun,” Lacy insisted. “There’s got to be something you want.”
Before Rae could form an answer, a voice interrupted them. “Aunt Rae!” a child called. Rae turned and a small boy leapt into her arms before she could register his presence. His arms tightened around her neck and he pressed close. Rae hugged him back, breathing deeply of the sweet little boy scent. “I’ve missed you, Aunt Rae,” the little boy said again. Rae could not form words. She could only cling to Tara’s son.
Will settled himself on Rae’s lap, his words rushing from his lips so quickly she struggled to follow his train of thought. “Does Mommy know you are here? Are you coming over tonight? Mommy cries a whole lot now. I tried to do like you said, cause you said to call whenever Mommy cried, so I pressed four on the phone and the tic tac toe board, but Mommy saw me and told me not to do that ever again.”
“Will,” a sharp voice snapped. Rae turned to see a gray-haired woman with a disproving frown glaring at her. Rae didn’t recognize the woman, but she recognized the baby in her arms. It took her breath away. “William Myers, come here.”
Will slipped off Rae’s lap. “Look, Granny, its Aunt Rae.”
Rae stood slowly, her shoulders tight with caution. “Hello. I’m Raegan Hall. You must be Billy’s mother.”
“Aunt Rae’s going to come over later so Mommy will smile again, right, Aunt Rae?” Will asked, holding her hand and gazing up at her with adoration.
Rae’s eyes locked with those of her nemesis. This was the woman who threatened to take the children if Tara continued her relationship with Rae. This was the woman who had destroyed Rae’s heart. Will tugged on her hand and she tore her eyes from the woman’s, kneeling in front of the boy she loved as much as a son. “No, buddy, I’m not coming over. I’ve got to go back to Nashville.”
Will frowned. “Mommy and Rachel and me want to live in Nashville with you, but Mommy said we weren’t going to do that anymore.”
“No, I don’t guess so.”
“But we miss you.”
“I miss you, too, and I think about you a lot.”
“Granny took me to see Santa Clause today, and I told him all I wanted for Christmas was for you and Mommy and me and Rachel to be a family. I even told him he could take back my bike from last year.”
“Let’s go, Will,” his grandmother ordered, extending her free hand.
Will threw himself into Rae’s arms again, his arms clinging to her as he cried. “Shh, shh,” Rae tried to assure. “It’s all right, buddy.”
“Don’t you love us anymore?”
“Now, hush that talk. I love you lots. It’s just . . . it’s just better if I love you from Nashville. It’s better if you stay here with your Granny and all your other grandparents. They love you, too, and they would miss you if you moved to Nashville with me.”
His grandmother grabbed his arm and tried to pull him from Rae’s arms. Reluctantly, Rae helped her, taking his arms from around her neck. She kissed his cheek softly. “Be a good boy, Will. Be a good big brother and help your Mommy lots. Okay?” Rae’s voice cracked and her eyes glistened as he nodded. “Now, go with your Granny.”
“Bye, Aunt Rae. I love you,” he called as he walked out. Rae watched him go, throwing him a kiss when he turned around the last time to look at her. As soon as he was out the door, Rae bowed her head and sobbed.
Lacy gently touched Rae’s head. “Dear Santa, please give my sister yozgat escort her family back for Christmas.” Lacy’s words only made Rae cry harder. “Oh, sis, I’m sorry. I had no idea any of this would happen today. I just wanted to distract you.”
“Just take me home,” Rae managed to gasp. Lacy quickly gathered her things and led Rae to the car. Rae cried all the way to her parents’ house.
Later . . .
Tara rang up her last customer of the day and gladly pulled her drawer from the register. She gave a sympathetic smile to her replacement and checked her cash with the front end manager. Wearily, she walked to the back of the store to get her purse out of her locker. Jack entered the break room from the outside door. He smiled when he saw Tara. “Heya, kiddo, how was your day?”
“Long,” she said. “Not too bad. Only had one really bitchy customer.” She rummaged in her purse for a moment. “Raegan came through my line.”
“Yeah?” he mumbled thoughtfully, leaning against the locker beside her. “How was that?
Tara shouldered her purse and slammed her locker. “She wouldn’t even look at me, Jack.” She turned and leaned against the wall beside him, releasing a long sigh of pent up sadness and frustration. “I guess it is really over. I kept hoping that she would miss me as badly as I missed her, and . . . I don’t know what I thought would happen.”
Jack took Tara’s jacket out of her hands and held it so she could slip it on her arms. He rested his hands on her shoulders and squeezed lightly. “I thought I would be thrilled to hear you say it was over with Raegan.” Tara stepped out of reach and turned to look at Jack with a frown. “Tara, I’ve been in love with you for years.”
“Jack . . .” she began, even though she was unsure what she was going to say to him.
He silenced her by holding up his hand. “When Billy died, you were sad, you grieved for him, but you didn’t seem to mourn. I kept my distance, though. I wanted you to have your space. After Thanksgiving last year, when you started talking about Rae, I knew you were ready to move on.” He moved toward her, placing her hand on her back as he guided her toward the back door. “When I realized that Rae was a girl, I was a little floored and thought maybe you were just going through some phase. But every time you mentioned Rae, your whole face lit up. When you told me what happened in August, I thought I might finally have my opportunity, but you’ve mourned for Rae. You’ve grieved for that relationship a lot more than you did Billy’s death.”
Tara stopped walking as Jack opened the door and looked up at him with a frown on her face. “Why are you saying all of this?” she demanded.
Jack pointed over her shoulder and she turned to look. Raegan Hall was leaning against Tara’s car. She was staring at the ground when Tara first looked, but sensing someone watching, Rae lifted her head. She stood upright and slowly slid her hands into her pockets, her eyes on Tara and her face expressionless. Tara felt her heart skip a beat and had to resist running to her former lover. She shifted her gaze back to Jack. “I saw her when I took out the garbage. Good luck.”
He hugged her and she took a deep breath before crossing the parking lot to Rae. She stopped just out of arm’s reach. “Hi,” she managed to say. Her throat was constricted so she cleared it and tried again. “Hello.”
“Hi,” Rae answered after releasing a long breath. She pushed her hands deeper into her pockets and looked away. She spent a moment trying to look anywhere but at Tara. She coughed. “How are you?”
Tara nodded, the motion providing Rae with a non-answer that echoed the sentiments of her own heart. “What are you doing here?” Tara asked.
“I wanted to apologize,” she said.
Tara took a hopeful step forward, her face upturned expectantly. “I’m sorry, too,” she whispered, wetting her lips as she gazed into Raegan’s brown eyes.
“You have nothing to be sorry about,” Rae insisted. “Will saw me today. His grandmother was not excited. I hope that it doesn’t make things difficult when you pick the children up.”
“Oh,” Tara muttered, taking a step backward, her shoulders drooping in disappointment. “I’m sure everything will be fine. You couldn’t help seeing him.”
“He seemed pretty upset that I hadn’t been around,” Rae said. “I tried to assure him that it wasn’t because I didn’t love him anymore.”
“It’s been hard on him. He lost his dad, and then you left . . .” she stopped talking, her voice fading as she left the sentence incomplete. “He’s a tough little boy. He’ll get over it.”
Rae took her hand out of her pocket and gently rubbed her thumb against Tara’s soft cheek. “What about you?”
“I’m tough, too,” she answered, slowly lifting her blue eyes to Rae’s face. She searched her ex’s eyes for weakness. “What about you?”
“Tough as nails,” Rae whispered, pulling her hand away and ramming it back into her pocket. They heard the lies in each other’s words but did not react. “Do you need any help providing Christmas for the children?”
“It’s not your responsibility,” Tara insisted.
“That’s not what I asked,” Rae growled.
“We will be fine.” “Good.” They stood in awkward silence for a long moment, the cold wind whipping around their bodies. The chill between them was much colder than the air in the atmosphere.
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