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The Day Lucy Broke Down (standard:romance, 12415 words)
Author: damnationAdded: Feb 08 2002Views/Reads: 2147/1294Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
For someone whose life revolves around her cat, Jordie, and Lucy, Kelly was devastated when Lucy broke down. What she least expects is the entry of another leading woman into her life. Will Lucy finally be replaced? Or is the other woman bad news all roun
 



Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story

ten very sharp claws to match. Flinging myself on the couch, I turned 
the television on, and proceeded to feel depressed. Ten minutes of 
watching sweaty males running around with their rackets made me feel 
fat and unhealthy. That ended my telly-watching career. Wandering eyes 
fell on my one true love, and all seemed bright again. There she was, 
sitting like she always did on the table, beckoning me to her. Lucy... 

Walking over to my table, I sat down and wondered if I should make the
call. Bills ran high and I had promised myself that I would limit the 
usage... I looked at Lucy again and all my resolve to save money flew 
out of the window. One call would not hurt much. I would go without 
lunch or something. My fingers ran lightly and quickly over the keys 
and the familiar sound of connection made me grin. 

"Reow..." I turned to see Jordie sitting on the window ledge, staring at
me accusingly with his huge, blue eyes. 

"You're too judgemental, Jordie!" I exclaimed in disgust; at him or
myself, I was not really sure. "It's just one call! That doesn't make 
me a spineless, undetermined, weak-willed git, does it?" 

He cocked his head at me, then looked away disinterestedly. Seeing that
my cat was being unsupportive, as usual, I turned back to matters on 
hand. 

"You have 10 mails in your inbox." 

"Ooh..." I rubbed my hands together in glee. It was then that it
happened. 

Lucy's screen started to flicker. 

And flicker. 

And then... and then... Everything went black. 

*** 

"No, no! I did not -- and I'm repeating this for the millionth time now
-- download the virus into Lu... I mean, my laptop! Like I said, I was 
about to open my mailbox when she... crashed..." It was very hard, but 
I succeeded in keeping my emotions in check. I had to be brave. Lucy 
needed me to be strong. She would get well. I know she would. 

The man behind the counter did not look sympathetic in the least. His
treatment of Lucy was not very gentle and I was having second thoughts 
about leaving my precious with him for a day. A day! Lucy and I have 
never been apart for that long a time ever since we met. Oohh... "I'll 
have the technician look at it tomorrow," he said in a brisk tone meant 
to dismiss me. Oh the cruelty! 

"You mean, you're not going to look at her now?" What if the condition
got worse with his delay? Could I sue this bloke then? What would I do 
without Lucy? I could hear impatient clucking coming from somewhere 
behind me but I forged on with my anxious questions all the same. 

He glared at me as if I was some moronic, computer-addicted kid, and
shook his head. "No," he said in a flippant tone, "The technician's 
having the day off today. We will ring you when it's fixed. It 
shouldn't take more than a day." Then he forced a smile onto his face, 
confirming my suspicion that he looked worse smiling than he did 
scowling. 

If only there was another computer shop in this bloody town. I fidgeted
with my glasses and my floppy fringe, stared longingly at Lucy, and 
sighed. "Oh, alright. You..." I looked up at him imploringly, catching 
his roll of eyes directed at the customer behind me. "You'd call me as 
soon as she's fixed up, won't you?" I ignored his impatient glare, took 
one last look at the frail looking Lucy and stepped out of the shop. 

*** 

Life sucks. 

I kicked a loose pebble and watched as it rolled down the slope in break
neck speed. Hope that hurt, I thought, feeling mean. I stuck my hands 
deep into the pockets of my scruffy pair of jeans and walked aimlessly 
with my head bowed. 

"Kell? Hey Kell!" A loud voice rang out. 

I looked up to see a large figure leap towards and on me before I could
say 'Jack Robinson'. Something warm and wet proceeded to give my face 
and glasses a good wash before I started sputtering. 

"Benny! Stop it! Come here!" 

The large golden retriever finally got off me and I picked myself up
gingerly whilst wiping my face on my crew neck shirt furiously. 

"Sorry 'bout that." Martin's dog, Benny, had a very excitable nature. He
also had very bad breath. I shuddered involuntarily. Even though he was 
truly adorable, he should really invest in some mints if he wanted to 
score with the ladies. By then, I did not know if I was thinking about 
Benny, or Martin. Fortunately, Martin did not notice that I was not 
concentrating on what he was saying. "... So, how about it?" He gazed 
at me expectantly, his rather handsome face beaming. 

"Uhhh..." How about what? I looked at Benny hopefully to see if he could
give me any hints. The little bugger merely rolled over, indicating 
that I should rub his tummy. Hmph. 

"C'mon Kell, yes or no? You're just perfect for it." I looked from Benny
to Martin and frowned. 

Then I shrugged. Lucy was taken away from me so brutally, without any
warning at all, and I had survived that. What could be worse? "Okay," I 
acquiesced. The smile on Martin's face brightened up considerably and 
that made me a tad uneasy. I hope I did not just agree to pose nude for 
some porn magazine the boys were starting. 

2 

Hoboy. When Martin brought me back to his house, I started feeling a
teensy weensy bit panicky. I was on the verge of telling him that I 
changed my mind when I remembered that I had my period. Satisfied that 
no one would want me to pose nude no more, I followed him into his 
house confidently. He led me to the backyard and my eyes widened at the 
small crowd of people there. 

"You're having a party?" There looked to be a small, make-shift stage of
sort and many white plastic chairs before it. People were gathering 
round, chatting and eating those mini-sandwiches on toothpicks. Most, 
if not all of them lived around the neighbourhood. 

Not answering my question, Martin pulled me over to the long table that
was peppered with plastic cups, orange juice and dishes of bite-size 
treats. I ran a hand through my long and rather messy blond hair 
nervously as I picked up a cup of juice. "Jordan, this is Kelly. Kelly, 
Jordan." I transferred my attention from the rather delicious looking 
food on the table to the person I was being introduced to and I almost 
choked on the orange juice that was in the midst of entering my throat. 


The woman standing before me not only had the same name as my cat. She
also had the same, startlingly blue eyes and a head of gloriously 
ginger-colored hair that Jordie had. I wondered if she had those sharp 
claws as well. If Jordie was human and female, this would be how I 
would imagine him to look like -- tall, lithe, beautiful, and with an 
air of menace. 

Then she smiled. I looked stupidly at her outstretched hand, then at
her, and finally realized what was expected of me. "Oh, sorry. Uhh..." 
I stretched out the hand that was still holding on to the plastic cup 
and pulled back quickly. Placing the cup on the table beside me, I 
snuck a look at her and was relieved for some reason that she was 
gazing at me with mirthful eyes. I returned her handshake. "Hi, nice to 
meet you. I've heard a lot about you." 

A thin brow rose. "Have you?" Her voice was sweet and lilting, and it
sent shivers down my spine. I swallowed rather painfully and shrugged. 

"Um, actually... no. I just... um..." I looked to Martin who shot me a
knowing grin, and then back at Jordan. "That's what they always say, 
ya' know?" Yeah, and I know that you're a moron, MORON! I could not 
believe just how stupid I was behaving! 

"Anyway..." Martin took over the speaking department, fortunately. "Good
news, Jordan. Kell here just agreed to be your model, aka guinea pig." 
Two sets of blue eyes looked to me at the same time and I felt the urge 
to run coming back to me again. I wanted my Lucy. I wanted to be holed 
up in a small room with a power point and Lucy and literally hide 
behind her for the rest of my life. 

Jordan immediately came behind me. "May I?" She asked, pointing to my
hair. Slightly confused, I nodded mutely. She proceeded to fluff up and 
smooth down my hair. "Great potential," she announced, sounding rather 
pleased. I gave Martin a weak smile. 

"Excellent." Martin looked pleased. Jordan walked back to face me,
looking pleased as well. I figured whatever it was that I was doing, I 
was doing good since everyone was so pleased. 

"Thanks, Martin." Jordan turned her blue eyes on me and flashed me a
wide smile. "And thanks, Kelly, for saving my arse." I looked at the 
part of the anatomy she mentioned and decided that it was too good a 
piece of art to not save. "It's starting soon... shall we get started?" 
She motioned me toward the stage and I swallowed hard again. I hope I 
did not have to perform; I had the worst case of stage fright ever. I 
imagined myself hiccupping to the beat of a song and winced. 

Jordan must have seen the sick pallor of my face for she hurriedly laid
an assuring hand on my arm. "I promise I won't screw your hair up." I 
gave her an uncertain look. My hair? That was the least of my worries 
now. Seeing my unconvinced look, she flashed me a confident smile. 
"Really, I'm not that bad a hairdresser, ya'know." Oh. Ohh... Hoboy. 
What did I get myself into? 

*** 

"You look great!" Martin enthused as I remained rooted in the
hairdresser chair with a bunch of my brutally chopped hair clasped in 
my hand, in apparent shock. "Really! C'mon, Kell, let's go get a drink 
or something?" he implored as I continued staring at nothing in 
particular. 

This day was taking the most horrendous turn ever. First, Lucy was gone.
Now, my hair was gone. And the rest of it... was colored red. Red! I 
looked like a carbon copy of the lead singer of Garbage in her MTV, 
"Androgyny", and believe me, I did not carry that look well at all. 

"Kell?" I believe I heard a note of worry in Martin's voice. To his
relief, I got up from the chair. Jordan won the little friendly 
competition that they held in Martin's yard and was on her way to 
becoming the next proprietress of a small salon down the road. As for 
myself, I was going to get Lucy from the computer shop tomorrow and not 
see anyone till my hair grows out -- long and blonde. 

"Um, I need to go to the toilet, Martin." He pointed to the general
direction of the house and I excused myself gratefully. What I needed 
was a big mirror. Preferably three of them, angled, so I could look at 
the monstrosity that I have become. 

I found the bathroom easily -- not many chances of getting it wrong when
all the other rooms were locked. The first look into the mirror made me 
yelp. I took off my glasses and peered closer at my reflection. My head 
felt light; rightfully so since about eighty percent of its initial 
weight had been removed. I tried shaking my head a little and found 
that I could do that faster than before, and a small smile started 
forming on my face. The look might take a little getting used to, but 
it did not give me the same sense of impending doom as it did before. 
Maybe this was not so bad after all. I wondered if Jordie would be able 
to recognize me, though. 

After looking in the mirror with and without my glasses perched on my
nose a couple of times, I decided that the new haircut looked better if 
I did not wear my glasses. Rather pleased with that discovery, I held 
onto my glasses and let myself out of the toilet. 

And walked straight into something black. 

And dropped my glasses. 

And heard a sickening crack. 

"Fuck." I did not even have the energy to inject passion in my swearing.
It figures that the moment I thought my day was looking up just a 
little, something would happen to make me wish that I had stayed in 
bed... and finished that kiss, dammit! I was seriously entertaining 
thoughts of taking a hammer to the damn clock radio. Or better still, 
go down to the radio station and put a gun to the DJ's head. 

"That's fast becoming the most common way of saying hi," a low and
decidedly female voice commented, sounding slightly amused. 

I, on the other hand, was not amused. I wondered if she could see that
from the expression on my face. Or maybe all she could see was a 
squinting, moronic looking girl with a screwed up haircut. I could feel 
defeat sinking in and weighing down on my shoulders. I wondered if Lucy 
missed me as much as I missed her. The thought of Lucy made me feel mad 
again and I did my best imitation of a sneer. "Well, if that's the 
case, 'Hey you' would translate as 'Fuck you', wouldn't it?" Now where 
did that come from? Normally my best come backs came ten minutes after 
I walked away from the person. 

"Ooh... is that a demand, or a request?" Alright, that was it. I did the
only thing I could do when I had nothing else to say: pick up my pieces 
and move on. So I bent down to pick up the three pieces that my glasses 
had become and was about to move on when a voice stopped me. 

"Kell! There you are!" It was Martin. "I see you met my sister." Sister?
I did not have to squint to see that the person who just insulted me 
was as tanned as Martin was fair and had a head of locks as dark as 
Martin's was blonde. In fact, I would have been more inclined to 
believe that Jordan, and not this stranger, was Martin's sister. 

"Half-sister, he means to say," the woman corrected Martin. I instantly
felt the dislike for this woman grow. 

Martin gave a half-hearted shrug. "Kell, this is my half-sister, Mach.
Mach, Kelly's a fri..." 

Mach cut him off. "Yada yada... Hi, how are you? Oh, that's nice. Now I
really gotta use the loo, so excuse me." She slammed the door in our 
faces quite literally. I was appalled, to say the least. 

"Ah, don't mind her." I shifted away from Martin slightly when he spoke.
"She's always been like that. She doesn't mean to be rude or anything," 
he said, rather unconvincingly, in my opinion. 

I shrugged. I could not be bothered. Mach, whatzhername played a big
part in breaking my pair of glasses and did not even bother to say that 
she was sorry or help me pick up those glasses. Instead, she stood 
there, dealing out sarcasms like she worked in the casino of sharp 
words all her life. She was rude in my book, alright. 

"It's been nice, Martin, but I gotta go. I gotta... go feed my cat. Um,
I don't think Jordan needs me to hang around, does she?" In a way, I 
was torn between wanting to stay and chat with Jordan and fleeing from 
Martin's and never look back. I might even buy a blonde wig on my way 
home and fix it on permanently so that I might convince myself that the 
events of the day had been a dream. 

Martin shook his head. "Nah. Thanks for your help, Kell." He lowered his
voice a little, and added, "You want me to fix you up with Jordan? She 
might..." 

If I turned any redder, I would resemble the fire hydrant on the wall
beside me. Why the hell is there a fire hydrant there? Oh who cares. 
"Wha--" I sputtered instead, almost choking on my saliva. 

"Jordan and her? Kid, I think your match-making skills are a little
screwed, if you don't mind me saying." A voice that I was beginning to 
detest made itself heard. 

"Mach..." Martin gave her sister... okay, half-sister a part-annoyed,
part-helpless look. 

Before Miss Machiavelli -- my new nickname for her -- could reply, I
quickly said my goodbye and rushed down the stairs, feeling humiliated 
for some reason. I could feel my face burning slightly even as I 
reached the front door of the house -- well, what I assumed to be the 
front door of the house. 

"Kelly!" It was pure reflex that made me pause in my trek and turn when
I heard my name. I nervously wondered if someone was going to ask me 
why I was heading toward the closet or something equally dumb, like the 
pantry. Preparing myself for the worst, I was rather surprised when 
Jordan approached me. "Are you leaving already?" Her voice was just 
so... sweet. Actually, 'sweet' did not cut it. It was more like... the 
kind of voice that made people stop to listen; not because it was loud 
or explosive or anything, but more because they wanted to enjoy the 
sensation that the sound caused. It was hard to explain, but Jordan's 
voice did just that. It made me forget everything and want everything 
that I could possibly dream of, if that made any sense. 

"Uh... yeah. I gotta feed my cat," I repeated my excuse for bolting out
of Martin's. 

"Ooh. I love cats. Is it a he or a she?" she asked conversationally. I
could not believe that she wanted to talk to me when she had so many 
other people she could chat with. 

I glanced at the stairs warily, almost expecting something black and
mean -- namely Machiavelli -- to jump down any minute. Not seeing 
anything of that sort happen, I relaxed a little and decided that a 
short conversation with the easily most beautiful female in the house 
would not matter. "He. His name is Jordan... Uhh... But I call him 
Jordie most of the time," I supplied helpfully. Jordie was a subject I 
could talk about for hours on end if I had a willing audience. 

"You have great taste in names." Jordan smirked as I scratched the back
of my head self-consciously, greatly surprised at the lack of hair at 
my nape. 

"Um..." I was fast becoming a stuttering moron who could not form a
sentence without the use of 'uh' or 'um'. 

Jordan chuckled, sending a thrill down my spine. She knew that she was
getting to me, and she was enjoying it. I swallowed rather loudly and 
looked to the door longingly. Surely night had fallen. I would go on 
home, take a long bath, and sleep. Upon awakening, I would go down to 
the computer shop and wait for Lucy to be discharged. Then everything 
would go back to normal, and all these people that I met in the brief 
few hours Lucy left my side would be nothing but memory. 

"...So, how about it?" Dang. Jordan had asked me a question that went
totally over my head. Second time that this had happened to me in a 
day. "Do you wanna?" Jordan tried again, her gaze questioning. 

Well, it didn't hurt the first time, I conceded. "Yeah, sure." I hoped
fervently that she would clue me in to what I had agreed to. 

"Great." She flashed me a bright smile that made my insides melt, but it
would not do any good if she did not let on to what I had agreed to do. 
The black and mean thing that I dreaded seeing made its appearance and 
looked as if it was coming our direction. The urge to flee within me 
must have shown on my face, for Jordan said, "I won't keep you any 
longer, then. We'll be there sevenish, and the reservation's under 
Rogers." 

I could sense a menacing force coming toward us and I was already
inching toward the door. I just needed one more piece of information: 
where was I supposed to be at sevenish? "Remember, it's 'The Corner'," 
Jordan provided helpfully. 

I gave her a quick smile and nod and made a mad dash for the door,
missing a look of amusement and the crinkling of electric blue eyes 
entirely. 

3 

It was barely five in the evening when I reached home. The clear and
distinct lines of objects around me took on a fuzzy outline without my 
glasses and made me feel like Alice in Wonderland. Jordie was nowhere 
in sight when I let myself into my home, and I did not bother calling 
out for him as I made a beeline for the bathroom. 

A long, warm bath later saw me emerging from the shower stall pink and
squeaky clean. I had washed my hair like, five times, to see if I could 
get some of the vibrant color out of it. Using my towel, I wiped the 
moisture off the mirror and peered hopefully. No such luck. 

The more I stared at myself, the more I was certain that I was looking
at a stranger. Just how pathetic is it to have the equilibrium of your 
world rocked when your laptop is taken away from you for a day? I 
quirked a smile at myself, thought that it looked stupid on me, and 
shook my head. I should have opted out of that dinner invitation. Now, 
I had to face the prospect of meeting with God knows how many 
strangers. Was it worth it? 

The thought of seeing Jordan again made me smile grudgingly. Maybe it
was. 

I had worried over what I was going to wear to the restaurant, running
up and down the stairs with a different outfit on each time. God alone 
knew why I hung the full-length mirror downstairs instead of in my 
bedroom. After probably ten different combination of outfits, I settled 
on the first one I had come down with -- a black cotton crew neck that 
made the red in my hair stand out even more, and a very baggy pair of 
murky green cargos that hung precariously on my hips. In place of my 
glasses, I slipped on a pair of contacts that I hardly ever wore. 

The hair was rather screwed up, though. It had lost the hairdresser's
touch, as I call it, as soon as I allowed water to touch it. It could 
not be that difficult to style it, right? I mean, hairdressers are 
humans too... With a look of intense concentration, I applied a ghastly 
amount of mousse to my hair and hoped for the best. 

After styling this way and that for almost forty-five minutes, I gasped
when I looked at the clock. It was already seven, and I had yet to feed 
Jordie. In fact... I looked around and saw my ginger colored tabby 
glare at me disdainfully from where he was lying. "Sorry, baby..." I 
apologized distractedly. Grabbing the huge towel off the back of a 
chair beside me, I began to towel my moussed hair furiously, deciding 
to go for the natural look. Walking over to the larder, I picked out a 
can of cat food, opened it, and emptied it into Jordie's black bowl. 

"I gotta go, sweetie. I'll see you later, okay? You have fun..." I
frowned. "But not too much fun, you hear me? Keep off the furniture and 
leave that poor puppy next door alone," I lectured the oblivious tabby. 
Seeing that I was not going to get much reaction out of the feline, I 
pulled on a pair of skater shoes and let myself out of the house, 
attempting but failing to whistle along the way. 

*** 

I wondered if I should hang around outside the restaurant to make sure
that I did not seem like an eager fool by being the first and only 
person at the dinner table. But if I did not enquire about the table, I 
would never know if they had arrived; I did not want to be the last one 
to arrive either. Sighing at the many choices I had to make a day, I 
threw caution into the wind and strode up to the man standing at the 
entrance of the restaurant. 

'The Corner' was a nice restaurant situated in a small nook that many
would pass by without a second look, and for that reason alone, it was 
almost always never crowded. I had been to this restaurant a few times 
with my father, and had really taken a liking to the place. I never did 
like crowds and loud noises. The other side of the restaurant 
overlooked the water, and, like most places situated near the water, 
gave me a sense of calm and peace. Tonight, however, the above 
mentioned feelings were nowhere to be found as I followed the man to 
the table that was out in the open, blanketed by numerous gray clouds 
and the beautiful but quickly darkening blue sky. 

Hope it doesn't rain, I thought. It was so much nicer outside the
restaurant, with the cool breeze blowing and the soft, soothing sound 
of the water. I could see seagulls dotting the sky and frowned. They 
were nice if they stayed far away. I once had a fat, psychotic looking 
seagull chasing off every other seagull on the grass patch that I was 
on, so that he could stare at me alone. Needless to say, it freaked me 
out pretty badly. 

As I approached the long table, I recognized a few people from school
immediately. Waving a hi to Martin's buddy, Sean, I took the seat 
beside him. 

"Hey, didn't think I'd see you here," Sean said with a bright smile.
Unlike his best friend, Sean was a skinny, bespectacled and lanky 
teenager. He had the same sunny disposition as Martin, though, and his 
dark brown eyes shone behind those thick glasses. 

I shrugged. Have I mentioned that I was quite a loner in school? I had
friends, but no... friends, if you know what I mean. No? Well, I knew 
people and hung out with them periodically but I preferred my own 
company. My world, as you have seen, consisted of me, Jordie and Lucy. 

"Martie told me you were Jordan's model. Good on ya'. The new do looks
good, by the way." Sean beamed and I gave him a weak smile, slightly 
embarrassed. I caught a look of animosity directed my way and turned to 
study the person discreetly. 

The arrogant looking male seated on the opposite side of the long table
looked a lot like Jude Law, I noted with a start. However, the 
perpetual dissatisfied look on his face made his beautifully sculpted 
face... lacking, somehow. He was holding a long stick of cigarette 
between his fingers, and was doing a rather efficient job of reducing 
it to ashes. 

Seated on his right was Tony, a guy I knew from school. Sean and he were
engaged in a very technical conversation on... I leaned in closer to 
determine the topic of discussion but was thrown off by all the long 
and foreign terms. Shrugging inwardly, I returned to my rather 
enjoyable task of observing my dinner companions. 

"Really? I used to study that when I was in college too. What a
coincidence! Maybe we could... you know, have a chat about it one day? 
You know, over coffee or something?" Hm. Interesting. I eyed the 
earnest looking male to Tony's right who was, apparently, making a fool 
of himself to Clarissa, another one of my schoolmates. Sean and I were 
the only two people on my side of the table, and I wondered who I was 
going to sit next to for dinner. 

"Hey you all," a cheery voice greeted. Everyone looked up and saw a
beaming Martin making his way towards us. "Jordan's parking the car," 
he added, looking at me. I flushed for no reason as he sat beside me. I 
took a sip of my ice water and started choking in a very unladylike 
manner as some of the water went down the wrong pipe. 

"I don't give that good an entrance to warrant a choke, do I?" A dark
figure slid into the seat between Martin and Clarissa and smirked in my 
direction. I finished choking, waving away Martin's concerned hand, and 
threw the best glare I could muster in the evil woman's direction. It 
did not cross my mind for a moment that Machiavelli was going to be 
here. Now that I had my contacts on, and the world became clear defined 
lines again, I could see her clearly. 

Machiavelli seemed to like the color black a lot. She was garbed in
black from head to toes, wearing a ribbed t-shirt that showed off her 
rather impressive washboard stomach, black leather pants and black 
shiny boots with silver buckles. The only hint of color on her was that 
of her piercing blue eyes, not unlike Martin's and Jordan's, and her 
rather full lips that were curled up in a half-cruel, half-amused smirk 
at this moment. Her arrogance was unnerving and she seemed unaffected 
by the glare I gave her. 

Clarissa, on the other hand, looked absolutely delighted that
Machiavelli had taken the seat next to hers. Her pretty green eyes lit 
up and her reddish-goldish locks gleamed in the light as she leaned 
over to the dark, unnatural creature. I looked away with a good measure 
of irritation and spotted Jordan coming towards us. 

There was something in the way Jordan moved, I decided, that made her
seem as if she was floating, not walking. I could still remember the 
way her soft fingers worked through my hair that afternoon, and that 
thought alone made me grin rather stupidly. I sensed that I was not the 
only one giving Jordan her much deserved adoration and looked to see 
who else had fallen for her charms. Somehow, I was not surprised to see 
Jude Law lookalike follow her trek towards us with appreciative eyes. 

What if she had forgotten that she invited me? What if she had forgotten
who I was? What if someone else came and needed a seat and she realized 
that I was the redundant guest? "Kelly," Jordan said warmly and my 
breath caught in my throat. She looked positively radiant in her sky 
blue t-back top and denim hipsters that exposed a silver navel ring. 

"Let's get on with the program, shall we? There are people who came to
eat, Jordie," Machiavelli said in an off-hand manner, snapping me out 
of my gawking mode efficiently. I shot her an annoyed look, at the same 
time feeling a prick of familiarity at her calling Jordan 'Jordie'. 
What was she trying to imply anyway? Machiavelli returned my look with 
a raise of her brow, challenging me to correct her. I sat rooted in my 
seat with no good comebacks. 

So I did what I did best. "Um, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to the
washroom," I mumbled to no one in particular. 

*** 

"This is fast becoming a habit, isn't it?" I did not have to look up
from the sink to know who was standing behind me, blocking the entire 
doorway. The washroom was a rather crammed affair, consisting of only 
one cubicle. "We must stop meeting this way," Machiavelli continued in 
her amused tone. I wondered if she was always this amused with herself. 
If I were like her, I would be laughing my head off all the time. I 
found my inner voice hysterically funny more often than not. 

"Next time, tell me where you'll be. I'll make sure I won't be there," I
answered stiffly, a little hurt that this devil of a woman was so bent 
on baiting me. This was why I would rather talk to a screen. There, I 
was safe. There, I was protected. If someone said something I did not 
like, I just had to click on an ignore button and he or she would 
disappear. Faced with situations like this, I was really quite 
helpless. 

"Okay. I'll be at the table you just came from in approximately five
minutes, give or take..." There was laughter in her voice and it served 
to fuel my anger more. I felt tears coming and I was horrified; I was 
not going to cry in front of this woman! 

Fine. I did not give a shit if I had this damn dinner or not anyway. I
would just go back to Lucy... uh, scrap that. I would just go back and 
see if Jordie wanted to cuddle or go to an internet cafe or something. 
I did not think I could eat very well with this arrogant, annoying, 
insulting, overbearing bitch! around anyway. 

"Betcha feel like hitting me now, dontcha?" She gave me a cocky smile
and my right hand curled into a fist unconsciously. I could feel a 
rather strong energy building inside of me and I had to clench my jaw 
to keep myself from screaming nonsensically at her. 

The moment passed and I shrugged. This threw her off-guard and her brow
rose involuntarily. "Let me out," I said in an even, impatient tone, as 
though she was wasting my time. 

Machiavelli, surprisingly, adhered to my request and shifted to let me
pass. I considered this a small victory and decided to stay for dinner. 


4 

I thought I felt her staring at me a couple of times but each time I
looked in her direction -- both blatantly and discreetly -- she would 
not be looking my way. After this happened a few times, I got fed up 
and stopped bothering. I looked down at my chicken dinner and stabbed 
at it viciously. 

I felt a little uncomfortable, sitting between Sean and Martin. They
tried to include me in their conversation but I did not appear to be 
very interested. Granted, everytime I made a contribution, the smart 
mouth Mach would shoot off a biting and witty remark -- at my expense, 
of course. The seat beside Sean was empty for there were only nine of 
us, and I wondered if I could move there inconspicuously. "Kelly." I 
looked up. "Why don't you sit over here with us? You seem a little 
quiet over there." 

The knowledge that Jordan actually took notice of my discomfort warmed
me considerably. I waited for Machiavelli to chime in with her ever so 
witty comments and was disappointed when it did not come. I looked to 
her, annoyed, and caught myself. Are you mad? You're annoyed that she 
did not say something mean and spiteful to you? Shaking my head at 
myself, I picked up my plate. 

"Are you sure you're not confusing being boring with being quiet,
Jordie?" Ah. There it was. I stopped my movements and the conversations 
died down considerably at that. I looked up and past concerned, 
appalled and interested looking faces to settle on a smirking one. 

And snorted. 

I was wondering what she could say to Jordan's innocent request for me
to change my place and what she said was actually pretty funny. I had 
to give it to her; she had a quick mind. Wonder what she did for a 
living? 

My mirth was highly unexpected. I suspected that more than a few people
were just waiting for an explosion to come. A few sighs of relief could 
be heard as I sat down heavily beside Jordan. Amused eyes greeted me 
and I gave her a sheepish grin. "What? It was funny." Shaking her head, 
Jordan lifted her glass and took a sip of her red wine. 

*** 

Clarissa was obviously very interested in Machiavelli. She hung on her
every word and laughed at every single smart-ass remark that woman 
made. The look of pure lust and adoration on Clarissa's face made my 
skin crawl. Seeing that Jordan was talking to Jude Law lookalike -- his 
name is Haley, by the way -- I focused my attention on my schoolmate. 

Everyone knew who Clarissa was. Born with the sweet girl-next-door look
and a body many would die for, Clarissa easily made it into the popular 
crowd and the elite cheerleading team. She played hard but apparently 
studied hard as well. The points that she made in the one class we 
shared were always very well thought out, which was more than I can say 
about my own. Tutors who stereotyped students were normally in for a 
shock when they encountered Clarissa. Then why was she reduced to this 
giggly, gooey heap now that she was in Machiavelli's company? 

I continued gazing at the fetching looking cheerleader for a little
while longer, then shifted my attention to the object of her 
affections: Machiavelli. I realized that I did not even know whether 
Mach was her first or last name. Jordan, I had learnt, was Martin's 
cousin and they shared the same last name. Mach, however, with her 
little speech about being Martin's half-sister, might not have the same 
last name as they did. 

I started studying the dark haired woman's demeanor closely, not put off
by the fact that I had to crane my neck a little because of our sitting 
positions. She had just said something that made Clarissa blush 
prettily, and I wished I could hear what it was. It made me a little 
pissed, though, that Clarissa got the nice treatment from this insolent 
woman. Pretty girls get it all, I thought. 

Just as I was about to look away, Machiavelli looked up and caught my
gaze, giving me a knowing look. I pulled my eyes away quickly as my 
heart raced. I felt as if I was caught peeping at someone changing. The 
rest of the dinner went by with me trying -- and succeeding, mind you 
-- my damnest not to look in her direction. 

5 

"Never made it as a wise man 

I couldn't cut it as 

A poor man stealing 

Tired of living like a blind man 

I'm sick of sight without 

A sense of feeling 

And this is how you remind me..." 

Nickelback's 'How you remind me' was blasting in the disco/pub that I
had tagged along to. I wondered if Jordie missed me. Timothy, the guy 
who was trying to chat up Clarissa, Martin and Sean had decided to 
leave after the dinner. Martin and Sean were going to play some 
computer game at Sean's place, and Timothy was probably put off by his 
lack of progress with Clarissa. Haley was definitely here for Jordan, 
as Clarissa was for Machiavelli... so that left me. A friggin'... fifth 
wheel. Strangely, I had not felt like going home. So here I was, 
sloping in my seat with my legs wide open, finishing my fourth mug of 
beer. 

"It's not like you to say sorry 

I was waiting on a different story 

This time I'm mistaken 

For handing you 

A heart worth breaking 

And I've been wrong 

I've been down 

Into the bottom of every bottle 

These five words in my head 

Scream 

Are we having fun yet?" 

I was singing along to the song mutely, with my eyes closed when a warm
breath in my ear startled me. "So are we having fun yet?" It was 
Jordan. Her voice was a notch lower than usual, and her eyes were 
slightly glazed due to the consumption of alcohol. I gave her a 
full-fledged smile and secured one in return. "I'm glad you came along, 
Kelly. I really like you." 

Now, that was heartstopping. Answer her, dammit! "You're not too bad
yourself." I shocked myself when I gave her a wink. That was one good 
effect of alcohol, I decided. It gave the otherwise 
stuttery-and-slow-to-react me some wit. 

Jordan was in the chair behind mine, and she had one arm resting over my
chest, putting us in a rather chummy position. Normally, I did not 
really like people touching me much. But like every other rule, there 
were exceptions. I really liked Jordan, too. She was beautiful, caring, 
and funny. She was also semi-involved with Jude lookalike, Haley. That 
explained for his watchful eyes throughout the dinner. It was a long 
shot, but I could actually visualize us becoming real friends. That is, 
if I could get over the still lingering flustered feeling when I was 
around her. 

Then suddenly, Jordan's warmth left me and I turned to see that she was
leaning over to listen to what Clarissa was saying to her. Somewhat 
annoyed, I got to my feet to get to the bar for another drink. 
Machiavelli had disappeared a little while after we arrived, leaving a 
disappointed looking Clarissa keeping a lookout for her every so often. 


"It's not like you to say sorry 

I was waiting on a different story 

This time I'm mistaken 

For handing you 

A heart worth breaking 

And I've been wrong..." 

I pushed myself through the swamped dance floor and wondered briefly why
the dance floor was between the main sitting area and the bar. It made 
no sense, really. Each time you wanted to get a drink, you had to brush 
up against a million and one sweaty, stinky humans. That thought made 
me grimace. 

"...I've been down 

Into the bottom of every bottle 

These five words in my head 

Scream 

Are we having fun yet?" 

Most people on the dance floor were banging their heads to the song, and
some were swinging their bodies rather violently. I was ducking another 
wild limb when something wound itself around my waist and pulled me 
backwards. Yelping loudly, I found myself pressed against a warm body. 
Cringing at the thought of having someone else's perspiration soaking 
through my shirt, it took me a while before I got indignant at the 
intimate position I was in with... A turn of the head identified my 
assailant as Machiavelli and I instinctively jabbed my elbow into her 
ribs. 

"Ow! This is what I get for getting you out of harm's way?" Machiavelli
acted like the jab actually hurt. 

I gave her a disbelieving look. "I think you're more likely to do me
harm than any of these..." I flailed my hands about to indicate the 
people around us and continued, "... these... awful dancing things..." 
I retracted my arm quickly when a young punk was pushed in my 
direction. A man came towards us and pushed the teenager again. The 
menacing look in his eyes worried me. A warm hand cupped my waist and 
pulled me in the opposite direction. I followed Machiavelli blindly and 
was led to a miraculously empty spot. 

"You can get your hand off me now," I said evenly, staring at the
offending appendage still wrapped around my waist. 

Machiavelli gave me a wide-eyed look but pulled her arm away. "What? No
gratitude? I'm hurt," she bemoaned. I narrowed my eyes, seeing through 
her act. What I did not understand was why she was switching to a 
different tune now, so to speak. 

"What?" The genuinely confused look on her face made me want to scoff.
Was she acting stupid? Did she not know what a constant pain in my arse 
the whole day? This one day was one day too long, and I hoped that I 
would never see her again. "What?" she repeated herself, apparently not 
going to be satisfied until I answered. 

Could I be bothered? I decided I was not and shrugged. "Nothing," I said
off-handedly and turned to go to the bar. Another favourite song of 
mine, Alive, was playing now, and I was determined to enjoy myself 
despite this Machiavellian character. 

"Everyday is a new day 

I'm thankful for every breath I take 

I won't take it for granted 

So I learn from my mistakes 

It's beyond my control sometimes it's best to let go, 

whatever happens in this lifetime 

So I trust in love 

You have given me peace of mind..." 

Just when I thought I was homefree, a firm hand grabbed mine and spun me
around. Surprised, I put out my free hand to brace myself against... 
Machiavelli. What was it with this woman? I opened my mouth to give her 
a piece of my mind when she swooped down to press her lips to mine. 
Huh? My heart raced irrationally as I tried to comprehend what just 
happened. Coherent thought, however, was the last thing I could 
generate in my overloaded brain. After the initial shock of what was 
happening dissolved, I actually wanted to start kissing her back when 
one word screamed in my head: Machiavelli! 

I pushed myself away from her and glared at her in confusion and anger.
I touched a hand to my lips and fled from where she stood, all the 
while replaying the smug look on her face. 

"I, I feel so alive 

For the very first time 

I can't deny you 

I feel so alive 

I, I feel so alive 

For the very first time 

And I think I can fly..." 

Aw crap. Life sucks. 

6 

This was quite possibly the worst day of my life. Ever. Gentle needles
of rain started pelting down on me seconds after I exited the club. I 
was past being angry. All I wanted right now was to get home, jump into 
the shower and then go to bed. I never should have gone anywhere. 
Watching the Australian Open would have been more rewarding than... I 
looked down at my rapidly dampening clothes... this. A surprised Jordan 
had allowed me to leave after eliciting a promise that I would give her 
a call in the near future. Clarissa looked as if she did not bother if 
I was there or not anyway, and Haley actually gave me a smile for the 
first time this evening. 

The rain started coming down heavier, and I increased my pace. The hard
pelts of rain were actually beginning to hurt a little. Beside me, the 
cars drove past. I paused to reach into my pocket for my wallet, 
wanting to check if I had enough money to take a cab home. A quick peek 
inside told me that the answer was no, and I cussed loudly. 

"Hey kid!" I quickened my pace when I heard that. Robbers came out and
walked in the rain too. "Hey!" I heard something pull up beside me and 
was all geared up to run. "Kelly!" I turned at that and saw with a jolt 
of surprise that the person shouting for me was Machiavelli. I was even 
more surprised that she knew my name. 

She was driving the most hideous looking heap I have ever seen. The
vehicle was an antique -- no, ancient would be a better word to use -- 
truck that had more rust than paint on it. The engine was almost louder 
than the rain and the creaking sounds that it was emitting made me 
wonder if it would collapse. 

"C'mon, get in." She motioned for me to go to her and her truck. Yeah
right. 

"Thanks but no thanks," I said loudly to be heard in the rain. What, did
she want to murder me now? And what made her think that I would hop 
into her truck when I left the club because of her? Obnoxious shit. 

The monster truck inched forward as I did. "Aw, stop being such an
immature little git and get in, willya'?" The rain got harder if it was 
possible, and I was positively drenched now. 

"Can something that's not mean, insulting or hurting pass through your
lips?" I shouted at her from what I considered a mature position on the 
sidewalk. Was there such a thing? I shrugged inwardly and continued 
squinting at her. I seemed to like doing that very much. 

"Oh yeah, and standing in the rain when there's a perfectly good truck
for you to get into is mature. I'm just stating the facts, little girl, 
and you are immature!" Machiavelli looked exasperated. 

I stomped off. "Flattery will get you nowhere!" I took to running so
that I could reach a shelter soon. Reaching one quickly, I started 
shaking my head vigorously like a dog to shake as much water off my 
body as possible. My eyes strayed involuntarily to the road and was 
curiously disappointed to see that the hideous looking truck was no 
longer there. 

Shrugging it off, I started wringing my shirt but quickly saw that it
was futile. Looking around, I saw a brightly lighted shop and saw that 
it was a 24-hour eatery. Pleased, I strode toward it with loud 
squelching noises. 

*** 

The loud sound coming from the drying machine in the washroom of the
eatery lulled me as I attempted to dry my shirt. Not caring if anyone 
were to walk into the washroom and see me with my shirt off, I stared 
idly at a crack in a tile on the wall. So occupied was I in my 
activity, I failed to register the presence of another person in the 
washroom. 

"You don't look like someone who would get a tattoo," a low, familiar
voice commented as my heart leapt. Turning around quickly, I covered 
myself with my almost dry shirt. "Nothing much to hide, really." The 
note of smug amusement was in the voice again and it made me clench my 
jaw. Fuming, I put my shirt on quickly and proceeded to ignore her. She 
was just too confusing for someone whose interaction with other human 
beings were limited to those online and in the grocery store. 

She came to stand directly behind me, forcing our line of visions to
collide in the mirror. I turned the tap off and turned to leave the 
washroom. This is the third washroom that recorded our interaction, I 
thought, and for some reason, that amused me. Seeing the ghost of a 
smile on my lips, Machiavelli took a step towards me. 

"Just what is your problem, anyway?" I asked wearily, wanting more than
anything to go out and order myself a cheeseburger with fries on the 
side and a large chocolate milkshake. The mere thought of that made my 
mouth water. 

"You're my problem," came the quick reply, but without the sarcasm. Once
again, I was stumped for a reply. "You bring out the worst in me." She 
sounded almost rueful. 

"Enough with the compliments already, okay?" Sheesh! Just cos' I'm not
as pretty as Clarissa doesn't mean that I have to put up with crap like 
this! Speaking of Clarissa... "Why are you here anyway, since I bring 
out the worst in you? Isn't Clarissa entertaining enough for you? She 
sure is pretty enough," I added, sounding jealous to my own ears. 

At that, Machiavelli's eyes lit up. I presumed that it was at the
mention of Clarissa and I rolled my eyes not too subtly. "You're 
jealous," she crowed. Huh? She seemed to bring out the stupid side of 
me. She stepped closer and I was backed into the sink. I felt around me 
nervously. "You like me, dontcha?" It was that same taunting glint in 
her eyes again and it ruffled my feathers good. 

"The hell I do!" I blurted out. Damn, I should have just snorted or
something. Now I sounded defensive. 

Blue eyes peered into mine. She was standing so close I could see the
individual hairs of her eyebrow. I continued bending backward as she 
bent forward until I could go no lower. "You do like me," she said with 
wonder in her voice. She was beginning to sound like an idiot child and 
it was beginning to scare me. 

I placed a finger on her chest and pushed tentatively. She snapped out
of her trance and noticed my digit. Breaking into a radiant smile that 
I had to grudgingly agree made her look gorgeous, with her damp hair 
pushed back from her face and shirt clinging onto her body... yada 
yada... she grabbed me by my waist again and pulled me away from the 
sink and towards her. 

"Hey!" I complained, pushing myself away from her again. "Look, just
because I did not refute what you just said does not -- and I say this 
again -- does not mean that I agree with you, you big oaf--" 

I did not have time to finish my angry outburst for she had, once again,
captured my lips in hers. I should have known that was going to happen 
when I saw her staring at my lips moments ago, but I had never been 
kissed before. Well, prior to tonight, that is. I pushed against her, 
annoyed by her audacity and her knack for cutting me off time and 
again. This time, however, she persisted and I slowly relaxed against 
her. I felt my eyes flutter shut but I just refused to let her win! I 
pushed against her again, and because it took her off-guard this time, 
I succeeded. 

"Damn, you look so hot when you're pissed off." Her gaze was an admiring
one. This woman was a sicko! 

"Will you stop doing that when I'm scolding you?! It's annoying!" Hot?
She thought I looked hot? Definitely psycho. "And what's your problem 
anyway? I know you said it was me earlier but... jesus! You've been 
nothing but mean and insulting the entire day and now you kiss me? Not 
once but twice! Are you sick? Do you have a weird fetish or something?" 
I finally got everything out without any interruptions from Miss 
Smarty-mouth and it felt good, dammit! 

Machiavelli started to chuckle. I waited patiently and politely --
unlike some people I know -- for her to finish. "No, no... no 
fetish..." She snickered lightly, took one look at my petulant face and 
broke off laughing again. I refused to admit that I was thinking that 
her laugh sounded rather nice and continued glaring at her. Seeing that 
I was unamused, she collected herself. "Contrary to what I might have 
led you to believe, I would really like to get to know you," she said 
finally, in a serious tone. 

At the disbelieving look on my face, she continued, "Okay... fine. That
might be too big a jump, I admit. Why don't we call it truce and... go 
outside to have something to eat, huh? And we'll go from there. What do 
you say?" 

I blew out a breath and shook my head. "I can't believe I gave you, of
all people, my first kiss," I mumbled, not entirely meaning it in a 
negative way. Machiavelli, despite her quick mouth -- actually, because 
of her quick mouth if you see it another way -- was damn attractive in 
the bad girl sort of way. Not too bad, if I might say so myself. 

Her eyes widened. "First kiss?" she squeaked. Ooh. Ain't that lethal
afterall, eh? 

I knew a truce was too good to be true. "Yeah, yeah. Bring it on." I
waited for another snide remark but it never came. People usually had 
lots to say about that. Twenty and never been kissed? At this time and 
age? Yeah well, no one whome I had cybersex with would have guessed 
that. I read heaps of trashy novels. Plus I had a good memory for 
details. 

When she remained silent, I gave her a curious look. If she was not
going to say anything, could we please go out so I could get my burger? 
Maybe she was a washroom fetish. 

"I... It wasn't that bad, was it?" she asked in a meek voice. 

Huh?! for the millionth time tonight! 

"I mean... shit, I didn't know. How could I? It's not as if people have
it branded on their heads or something ya'know?" Great. Now I have 
reduced her into a rambling idiot. She sounded as if she just took my 
virginity or something. She looked uncomfortable, though, and 
sadistically, it made me feel good. 

For a moment. Then I started feeling bad for feeling good. Jesus, I
don't understand you sometimes! I scolded myself. "Can we get outta 
here? I'm hungry..." I said, in a way of truce. She followed me out 
obediently and trailed after me like a puppy dog. 

We placed our orders and found ourselves in an awkward silence. Now this
is new. Silence from Machiavelli? Maybe we're progressing in our 
relationship already. Then, slightly appalled, What relationship? Are 
you nuts? Rolling my eyes at myself, I started fidgeting with the paper 
napkin, salt and pepper holders. 

I gasped out loud when a quick hand grabbed mine, stopping me from my
laborous chore of stacking and balancing the salt and pepper holders on 
the paper napkin holder. "Sorry." She actually looked sheepish. It was 
not clear what she was apologizing for but I shrugged anyway. "I hate 
it when people move things around on the dining table." I pulled my 
hand away as though it was scalded. "Although that's not as bad as 
people who mix weird stuff in their leftover food," she continued, 
looking at me hopefully to see if that appeased me. 

Apparently not. "I do that," I informed her calmly. She threw her hands
and eyes skyward in exaggerated despair then started shaking in silent 
laughter. Curiosity got the better of me. "What?" I demanded. 

"You're everything I dislike," she said mirthfully. "So why do I find
myself so drawn to you?" Jesus, this woman needed to take classes in 
flowery speeches! 

Thankfully, our orders came at that moment and saved me from having to
comment. I shamelessly stuffed my face. Machiavelli looked up from her 
slice of pecan pie to stare at me. I swallowed the fry in my mouth and 
took a gulp of my milkshake. She was still staring, her eyes dancing in 
amusement. "Take a picture," I said dryly, "it'll last longer." Hah! I 
have been dying to use this line since I read it off some online story. 


"I might do just that, Kelly..." she said softly, and it made me feel
funny inside. We finished our meal in companionable silence after that. 


7 

"So your mum married Martin's dad and they had Martin when you were six,
that right?" I repeated what Machiavelli just told me to make sure that 
I got the story right. She nodded. "So what's your full name?" We were 
walking side by side to where she parked her truck. 

"Darrell Rivers Mach," she answered ruefully. The name sounded really
familiar. I racked my brains to think of where it was that I heard it 
before. "My mum liked Enid Blyton. A lot." Ah, that was it. 

"Right... Darrell Rivers in Malory Towers, right?" I was an avid reader
of Enid Blyton myself. "I never met someone who was named after a 
character from her book, though." Probably because anyone old enough to 
name a twenty over year old individual today would not be reading Enid 
Blyton so much as to like her character enough to name her child after 
it. 

"Yeah." Machiavelli rolled her eyes. "But I'm glad she didn't call me
Moonface or Whatzisname or something stupid like that," she said, 
referring to characters from The Faraway Tree series. 

I started snickering. "Or Washalot or Saucepan Man or Silky..." 

She unlocked her truck and chuckled. "Hey actually I won't mind being
called Silky..." She wiggled her brows. I gave her an innocent look and 
she groaned. "Aw, you virgins are no fun," she grumbled. 

"Hey, watch that!" I smacked her upper arm, letting her know that I did
not appreciate that comment at all. 

"Sorry," she looked at me apologetically. "Can't help it. Sometimes they
come out automatically. It's scary." She rounded her eyes at me, 
attempting to look pathetic like that boy in Sixth Sense when he 
announced that he saw dead people. When I gave her a grudging look to 
indicate that I accepted her apology, she started her engine and I 
paled at the loud rattling sound the truck made. 

"Are you sure this heap is going to hold?" I glanced around me
uncertainly. Even though the exterior of the truck was less than 
appealing, it seemed that Machiavelli kept the interior clean. But 
cleanliness said nothing about the state of the engine. 

"Hey, Betsy here is not a heap, okay?" She eased the truck into the
non-existent traffic. 

"Betsy? As in the Betsy from the Archie comics?" The comic character,
Archie Andrews, had a beloved antique car that he named Betsy and she 
broke down so much that he was probably better off walking. 

"Spot on!" Machiavelli turned to me and flashed me a big grin. "Hey,
you're good. Maybe this getting along thing ain't so bad after all." 

I rolled my eyes. "That still remains to be seen." My words belied my
feelings, however. It was turning out to be quite a surprisingly 
nice... I looked at my watch... morning. Ah... a new day. Lucy was 
coming home. 

*** 

"So, um... Wanna do something together tomorrow?" We were outside my
place, sitting side by side in Betsy. It amused me that Machiavelli 
actually looked a little nervous. 

"Maybe," I gave her a non-commital answer. I could not believe that my
day was ending the way it was! And I could not believe that she 
actually wanted to see me again the next day. It was still hard to 
reconcile this Machiavelli with the earlier one I met in Martin's 
place. I had yet to ask her why she was so mean about him wanting to 
match make Jordan and me, though, and tucked that aside to ask another 
day. Oh dear, I was already planning for the future. Bad sign. 

"A simple 'yes' or 'no' would suffice, Kelly. 'Maybe' is so childish,"
she said with a dramatic roll of her eyes. 

Yes, yes, yes! I wanna see you tomorrow, and I hope you'll kiss me again
tomorrow. Actually I'd like you to kiss me again now! Is that what you 
want to hear? Jesus... "Yes, Machiavelli, I'd like to see you 
tomorrow," I said out loud. 

"What did you call me?" Dark brows furrowed. 

Huh? What? "I called you Machia... oh shit." 

"Oh, you did not..." she began slowly and disbelievingly, shaking her
head. I gave her an innocent shrug. Maybe she would not know what the 
name meant. I mean, we could not have read so many of the same books, 
right? "Nicolo Machiavelli? 'The Prince', Machiavelli? That 
Machiavelli?" Ah shit. She knew Machiavelli. 

"Do you know of any other?" I rolled my eyes at her. Inwardly, I was
actually a little afraid that she would be offended. Not that being 
dubbed the man who was believed to be the first great political 
philosopher of the Renaissance was anything lacking, mind you. Her 
slightly aghast expression turned into one of wry amusement after a 
moment's thought. 

"Ya' know, I really like the way you think," she said finally with a
note of admiration in her voice. She gave me a crooked grin that slowly 
slipped, changing the amused look on her face into something more 
serious. 

Leaning over, she made her intent clear and gave me every opportunity to
pull away if I chose to. Which I did not. Eyes fluttered shut as 
breaths mingled. My world became one of pure sensations and I gladly 
succumbed to it. Her lips were soft and velvety, caressing mine with 
such gentleness that it felt like butterflies touching my lips. I 
realized with a start that this was the reason why they were called 
butterfly kisses. When I sighed, she leaned in closer to me and cupped 
my cheek in her hand, stroking my face softly. The kiss deepened and I 
freely responded for the first time tonight. It lasted both an instant 
and the whole of eternity, and it left me wanting more. 

I opened my eyes and saw her looking at me with a breathless expression
on her face. I was sure this was not her first kiss, so why the big 
reaction? 

"I have stopped kissing for the sole reason of kissing for a long time,"
she said wryly, answering my unspoken question. You could probably 
predict my next thought: Huh? Thankfully, she continued. 

"Somewhere along the line, I stopped having first kisses and started
focussing on the first time I have sex with... whoever. Then it became 
whether I was going to have sex with whoever. Everything's so rushed 
and... well I guess I just stopped smelling the flowers, so to speak." 

Please take into account that I had a very trying day, four mugs of beer
and a long walk in the rain. Add all that to the time, which was 3:47 
in the morning by the way, you would get Kelly with a very slow working 
brain. It took me quite a while to digest all that information and 
realize that Machiavelli was actually saying something sweet to me. 

I think she was starting to get worried that she might have offended me
again with all this talk about sex when I remained silent. Then I gave 
her a wide smile. She blew out a breath and smiled back. So we sat 
there, just smiling, and smiling at each other. 

She broke the silence. "I think I better go. I have to get to work at
nine." 

"Oh. Okay. Um, I'll see you then." I was out of the truck and walking to
my door in the matter of seconds. 

"Hey Kelly!" I turned back. "Is seven a good time for you?" Huh? Oh god,
stop thinking that!! I finally worked out what she was asking and 
nodded. "Okay, see you at seven then." I did not notice this when I 
first met her, but Machiavelli had the most brilliant smile. Maybe if 
my glasses were not broken... nah... I would have still hated her. 

It was only when I was getting into bed when I realized I did not know
where I was meeting her at seven. 

8 

I ran from the kitchen to the phone and picked it up breathlessly. "Miss
Preston? I'm calling from TKY Computers. Your laptop is ready for 
collection anytime from now to six pm." Yes! Lucy! I glanced at the 
clock and saw that I had an hour left before the shop closes. I felt 
slightly guilty about spending more time thinking of seeing Machia... 
I'd better start calling her Mach in case I call her Machiavelli out 
loud again. 

"Hello? Are you there?" The voice in the receiver called out upon
hearing no response. 

"Yeah, I'll be there soon. Thanks!" I hung up gleefully without waiting
for the person on the other end to say goodbye. "Jordie!" I shouted, 
"Lucy's coming home!" I announced. My cat came to me and rubbed himself 
against me. He had been especially affectionate this morning, actually 
making me believe that he had missed me the day before. One leap 
brought him onto my shoulder and I shot him a bemused look. "You wanna 
come along, huh? Okay..." 

I ran out of my house in my worn 'Undertaker' shirt that I had bought at
a WWF match that I went to years ago, a pair of ridiculously large pair 
of shorts, and slippers with Jordie perched on my shoulder. 

"Jordie, stop digging your claws into my shoulder!" I complained,
swatting at my ginger colored tabby as I made my way down to the 
computer shop. I did not know if he really understood me or whether all 
thoughts of pain just vanished at the sight of the computer store. I 
pushed the door eagerly, and made my way to the counter with a big grin 
on my face. 

The counter was empty. 

Frowning impatiently, I tapped my fingers on the counter top. Service
was so bad in this store. Footsteps and the ruffling of paper announced 
the entrance of the unfriendly man in the store the day before. "Miss 
Preston?" Well, he definitely was not this polite. Neither was he 
female. I was grateful that I did not have to face the annoying man. 
This must be the technician. 

"Yup!" I called out happily. Jordie leapt off me and settled himself on
the counter. 

Stunned silence followed when a familiar form emerged from the storeroom
in the shop. Mach? One look at her face and I knew what was coming. I 
could feel it in my blood... I stiffened as I waited for the imminent 
outburst. "Your name's Kelly Preston?" She gave me an incredulous look 
before bursting into laughter. 

Annoyed but used to this reaction, I waited patiently with Jordie until
Mach collected herself. It was not that funny, was it? Sheesh! "Yeah, 
talk about enamored mothers, huh?" I said wryly. My mother adored Kelly 
Preston, John Travolta's wife. When the nurse told her that she had a 
daughter, she was ecstatic and immediately named me Kelly. Jordie threw 
a disdainful look at the uncultured Darrell Rivers who was guffawing in 
the most unladylike manner, termed her to be of no danger, and returned 
to licking his paw. 

Mach snickered one last time and came out from behind the counter. "Your
cat?" She tilted her head at Jordie. 

I nodded. "Jordie, short for Jordan," I introduced. Hearing me speak his
name, Jordie's ears pricked up but he did not bother looking at me. 
Other than a small raise of her curved brow, Mach did not comment on my 
cat's name. 

"I didn't expect to see you this early," she said instead, in a tone
that I have learnt to be her 'sweet' tone. "I've been thinking about 
you..." 

Now that wasn't so bad, was it? Mach could definitely do sweet if she
put her heart to it, I decided as I blushed a little. 

"Kelly Preston..." With that, she burst into another round of laughter
and I rolled my eyes skywards. Why me? 

The End


   


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