~ What Happened After ~
by Eveh


Disclaimer: Two People here may seem kind of similar to ones we all know, however these characters are mine.

Content: Two women here are in love although it's not very graphic; just know it's here. As far as language goes?well that's not too bad either. This would actually be rated PG-13 and that's really stretching it.

Other Stuff: If you have not read all those Accident stories I wrote then this will make absolutely no sense to you. You might want to read all those first considering that I'll say this is actually part of the Accident series. And to those who have already read all those previous ones they read on. Oh?many thanks to Quan who actually got me to write more about Tori. If you hadn't constantly bugged me to write a couple more things about her then it just wouldn't have gotten done.

Feed the Bard at XenGab01@aol.com

©2001


Not long ago I was sitting down and discussing serious universal issues with a friend of mine. He's a very technical sort of guy. You can give him any mathematical equation imaginable and he can figure it out and make all those numbers and letters make sense. So, it was a small surprise to me when I found out exactly what his views on life were really all about. It isn't often people speak of such things and it certainly isn't often I speak of such things, but sometimes having such discussions can put a few things into prospective.

Daniel, my friend, came over one night Sam and Dana were away and we sat over a couple of drinks (Dr. Pepper) and talked. He introduced me to the idea that everything that can happen does happen. For instance, the other day I was driving home from school and I considered stopping at the gas station for gas, but decided I would just make my stop later. That night I'm sitting down watching the news and in some freak accident a man was killed while pumping gas at that exact gas station I was going to go.

The story goes a little something like this. The man was pumping gas into his Ford Explorer on his way home from a long day of work. Seems the person who had previously been there was a smoker. The smoker forgot about reading all those fancy signs around the station warning against the hazards of smoking in that particular facility, and when the smoker left they also left their cigarette. Next thing we all know there's a big kaboom and a man's dead. The whole gas station pretty much went boom. Funny thing though, on my way home I heard the explosion but had no idea what is was. When I found out about what happened I had to take a moment and just breath. I could have been there and staying with the theory that everything that can happen does happen, in some reality I was there when the gas station went boom. Of course, staying in that same theory the explosion never happened.

OK, so now you're wondering, "What's your point Tori?" Well, my point is...actually I don't have one. It's just my thoughts that in some other reality I died in the car accident that took my parents lives, my parents survived the accident, the accident never happened, and so on and so on. All this really means is that in some reality I made all the right decisions and did all the right things. Now, while I find that reality dull and mundane, it does have it's certain appeal. The chance of being perfect is really a chance I honestly believe most people might want to take.

However, the chance of perfection is not one I'll be seeing in my lifetime. If I fixate on the perfect I miss out on the life I lead now. But if I were perfect I might not have ruined a very special relationship I had with my parents Dana and Sam. I do not seek perfection I seek forgiveness.

I should really start this story at the beginning, not the very beginning but at least from where I left off last time. The last time I wrote anything I was a few hours away from turning eighteen years old and was about to inherit a fortune, a very large fortune. I was sure in the love I had for my family and I had a relatively steady relationship with a guy who I absolutely adored. Life at that time seemed to be moving along quite nicely.

The statement I feel compelled to make here is, "money is the root of all evil." This is a simple statement made up of a few simple words. Someone decided to say it and it seems to have caught on. For me, I don't think I really believe in the quote, but don't fully disagree with it either. Most people take a firm stand on this issue and when they say money really is the evil I often am compelled to ask them what kind of person they were before they had the money.

I've often fought the idea that money has the power to change a person that much. Circumstances make a person change not the money. When I turned eighteen I got the money promised to me by my parents' will. They often cherished their wealth and to a certain extent I do as well but not because it makes me wealthy, but because it makes me wise.

The night I turned eighteen, after all the partying and well wishes from my friends, I sat in the kitchen of my home and contemplated my future. I had done so the night before, but now I was a lot richer. The money didn't really change my perspective at all. All my plans remained the same.

Sometime over the course of the night Dana entered the kitchen and took a seat across from me at the table. She sat with me for a while silently not willing to break my silence. Dana would wait for me to make the first move.

I looked studied my mother for a moment noticing how she had changed over the five years I had been under her care. I was thirteen when I had first come to live with her and she hadn't really changed all that much. She was still as beautiful in my eyes as she had been when we first met. Dana was the same woman physically I had always known, mentally however I knew where the changes had occurred. I had caused most of them myself.

I could tell she was more patient then she had been before. Like at that moment she was willing to wait for me to speak first instead of forcing me to speak immediately. She had also become more tactful when it came to handling her emotions. She had changed really into a parent and had learned what all that consisted of. Time and circumstances had made all these changes, not money.

Over the course of the years I had changed as well, both physically and mentally. I was now taller then Dana and I would make the argument that I was even more athletic then her. She would probably dispute that though. There was certainly a mental change within me as well. I was more confident than I had been when I was younger. I was more secure with who I was and who all my family was.

So many things had changed since my biological parents' death that I wasn't sure how to deal with their money anymore. I wasn't sure how to deal with the media anymore either. I was more comfortable in my quit life with Dana and Sam then I had ever been in the spot light and had forgotten what that kind of life really consisted of anymore.

"I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do." I told Dana finally after our extended silence.

Dana looked at me carefully for a moment formulating her response. "What is it you want to do?" I looked at her for a moment not sure how I really wanted to answer. "Don't tell me what you think you should do, just tell me what you want to do."

"I would really like to just finish high school and get on with my life." I shrugged my shoulders. "You know the normal stuff. I want to go to college get on with my life."

"Then that's what you're supposed to do." She answered me simply. Unfortunately for me it just wasn't that simple because? "I feel like I owe them something." I told her looking down on the table's surface intently.

"Why is that?" Of course she knew I was talking about my biological parents, and take notice that's all they really were now to me? biological parents.

"I don't know. I guess that sometimes I feel guilty about surviving and having a life I could only dream of before." Dana was still a little sore about the accident issue, because of her personal involvement. I usually wouldn't speak to her about it because neither of us really needed to 'go there'.

Her blue eyes looked around the room and I could tell she was hoping Sam would walk into the kitchen anytime now. Sam was usually the one that could handle the conversations about the accident; Dana still had a lot of guilt hanging onto her shoulders. "You can't go on with life feeling guilty about that. You had no control over what happened."

Then enters Sam. She always seemed to have sixth sense as to when Dana needed her. I think it has something to do with them being so in love. "What are you two talking about this late at night?" The pregnant woman made her way over to a chair and sat down with us at the kitchen table.

"I'm just a little apprehensive about what life has thrown at me these past few days." I answered.

"She feels guilty about being happy." Dana helpfully added.

Sam looked at me for a long moment before she spoke. I evaluated her as I had done with Dana when she first entered the kitchen. Over the years, Sam hadn't changed that much either, of course other then the fact she was very pregnant. Her light features hadn't really been tarnished over the years and her emerald eyes were as vital as they had always been. Mentally, I don't think she had changed that much really either. She was the one that usually held Dana and me together. Somehow, Sam managed to be stronger emotionally then either of us. More often than not, Sam was the rock of the family and she handled the job well.

"This is your life Tori." Sam reached out and held my hand. "You've always said your parents lead your life for you when they were here, don't let them continue to do so now that they're not."

The woman was a genius. Her words had the ability to put me at ease most of the time. No matter what she said she usually got me to thinking and once that started everything after that would fall into place. I stood up from my seat and stretched out my body. I was tired. "I'm going to bed. I'll see you two in the morning." I walked over to each of my parents and gave them a kiss on the cheek with the affirmation of my love then I went on to bed. The next day seemed like it would be good enough to talk everything else out. They had already set my worse fears at bay.

The next day I woke up to the shining sun and singing birds. It was the middle of spring and my favorite part of the year. Spring was my reminder of when I first came to live with my parents after my accident. I remember waking up into a whole different world and getting my first dose of what a normal life really meant. That is one of the happiest times of my life, because I think that's when my life really began.

I slid out of bed and stretched out my muscles with a smile on my face. Just because I was facing yet another obstacle in my young life didn't mean I was going to stop living. What was that saying my friend once told me, "Roll with the punches"?

Life consists of obstacles and I-like everyone else-have to find a way around them or through them. I'd already been through my share and I'd be damned if a few measly millions of dollars would throw me. Of course, I'd be lying to say having the money in my pocket had absolutely no affect on me. Money is a very powerful tool and having so much at the age of eighteen could destroy a person. I however, would not allow it to destroy me.

A knock came on my door and I called to whoever was on the other side to come in. Dana entered my room dressed some white athletic shorts and a black tank top. Her blue eyes looked at me expectantly and I walked over to my dresser and pulled out some athletic shorts and a tank top for myself.

Usually on Saturday mornings Dana and I would go work out together. It was a time we could be alone and just talk. I think most people would call it mother daughter quality time. Dana was the kind of parent who took the extra effort to actually spend time with her child. Going out every Saturday was Dana's way of seeing me grow up without us growing apart. I had the same thing going on with Sam, except we didn't go out and sweat every Saturday, but instead every Wednesday we'd go out to a museum or the local bookstore where they had poetry readings and discussed literature. It was Sam's way of feeding the more artistic side of me.

"I'll be ready to go in a few minutes." I told my mother as I walked out of my room across the hall to the bathroom.

"Hurry up kid I'm not going to wait all day." I heard Dana call through the bathroom door. I didn't really take her seriously, because I knew she wouldn't leave without me. Since the time we had started this ritual she hadn't left without me yet.

I finished preparing myself for my morning run and walked into the kitchen where Dana and Sam were having an impromptu make-out session against the refrigerator. I walked over to them and unceremoniously moved them out of my way so that I could get myself some orange juice. They did not part lips upon my account. I got the orange juice from the top shelf of the refrigerator and walked over to the other side of the kitchen to retrieve a cup.

After a few moments more my parents broke apart and finally chose to recognize my presence.

"Good morning." Sam says to me while I just stand against the counter and sip on my orange juice. I look down into my drink and regret not putting crushed ice into the cup before pouring myself a cup of the orange stuff. It just tastes so much better that way.

Sam walks over to me and takes my cup from my hands and finishes the rest of the drink. "I said good morning." She tells me again after she swallows down my drink. I take the cup back from her and walk over to the refrigerator which has the ice dispenser built in. I changed the little dial on the thing to make it dispense crushed ice and proceeded to fill my cup half way with ice.

Once finished with that task I walk back over where Sam is standing, which just also happens to be where the orange juice carton is. I pour myself another cup of orange juice. I take a long sip from my cup much more satisfied now that it includes the crushed ice. I look back to Sam and smile. "Good morning." I tell her cheerfully. "I see your lips remained intact."

Sam has the grace to blush, as does Dana from her position across the room. Finding them kissing in the kitchen or anywhere for that matter wasn't anything new for me. Dana and Sam loved each other and didn't feel the need to hide it from me. I had grown very comfortable with their relationship and seeing how much two people could care for each other wasn't really that bad of a thing.

"Awe?" I coo at her. "You're so cute when you blush." Sam reaches out and smacks me on the arm playfully. "It's the truth." I tell her as I rub my hurt appendage for effect.

"It's time for you to leave now." Sam takes my arm and guides me out of the kitchen. Dana just watches then follows. I manage to pick up my athletic bag as my parent shoves me towards the front door of our home. Sam is even so kind as to open the door for me once we reach it. She gave me a quick kiss on the cheek, took the cup of orange juice I still had in my hand then shoved me out the door closing it behind me.

After a moment of lamenting the loss of my orange juice I walk over to Dana's BMW coupe and wait for her arrival. I pull out the keys to the car from my athletic bag and put the bag into the trunk. I then walk over to the driver's side of the incredible vehicle and take a seat behind the wheel. Normally, Dana has strong objections to me driving her precious car because she believes I would be too tempted to exceed the recommended speed limit. I fail to see her reasoning though because I know how often she has been stopped for going a little too fast on our nations highways and streets.

I fiddle with the radio a little bit and tune it to my favorite station. I turn up the volume as well and am reminded of the awesome stereo system this car has. Since the day Dana brought this car home I fell deeply in love with it. I realize I could have just gone out and bought one for myself with the money I had, but Sam and Dana genuinely felt I was too young to have a car like that. For reasons I can't really articulate now, I held off and didn't buy myself such a wonderful car. Instead, my parents bought me a nice little Honda Civic, which I thoroughly enjoy.

Minutes later Dana finally comes out of the house with her own athletic bag and puts it in the trunk then took a seat in the passenger side of the car. I really expected for her to demand I move but decide not to look this particular gift horse in the mouth. My mother doesn't even change the radio station or the decibel level at which I have said radio station set. She looks to be in a little bit of a daze.

I mentally shrugged my shoulders then pulled out of the driveway and headed in the general direction of our normal workout gym. Fifteen minutes into our journey Dana finally looks over at me and says, "Don't think because I'm letting you drive now, that you can take this car out when you go out with all your friends. You can only drive it when either I or Sam are in it with you."

My brain goes over the information I have just been told and wonder briefly if this would be considered a new privilege or something else. "You know I'm eighteen and can just go out and buy myself a car like this and then drive it whenever I want."

Dana reaches out and gently puts her hand over my own on the gearshift. "You could do that but you won't."

I spare a quick glance from the rode and smirk at her. " What makes you so sure I won't?"

"Because you know how Sam and I feel about the subject." Dana smiled at me knowingly and patted my hand gently again. "Now keep your eyes on the road."

"Yeah well," is my only response. What she says is true and I know it, she knows it, and I know she knows I know it.

We finally reach the gym and are greeted by the staff. Everyone there knows us and has come to expect our arrival early every Saturday morning. I sign myself in then walk further into the gym leaving Dana a little behind to talk to one of the gym's trainers, Kim. The trainer was a college student who worked for the gym to help with all her expenses. She was extremely athletic and carried herself proudly. She had deep brown eyes and dark almost black hair. Her skin was almost as dark as my own. Her Native American heritage was extremely recognizable in her features.

I went into the locker room and put my bag up. Dana walked in shortly after me and put her own stuff away. Together we headed back out to the gym and began our workout. We had a set work out routine where we would begin with running a couple of miles on the in-door track they had on the upper level, then we would do some weights, run a few more miles and finally would join in on some basketball game going on in the back part of the fitness center where they had full sized basketball court.

"So how are you and Richard doing?" Dana asks me as we are finishing our third mile. "I haven't really heard you talk about him lately."

I avoid the urge to roll my eyes and try to put on the best performance of my life. "We're doing fine."

Dana stared at me clearly seeing through my act. I sighed and decided to just vent some of my frustration. "Guys are stupid."

My mother let out an unexpected bark of laughter upon hearing my statement. "What makes you say that?"

For a very long time I had avoided to have the "talk" with Dana. Sure she knew about sex I knew about sex and she made sure I knew about safe sex, but we never really had an in-depth conversation about the subject. I guess there was no time like the present.

"You know Richard and I have been together for a while, right?" Dana nodded her head and her eyes urged me to continue. "Well I think he really wants to progress our relationship a little further then we have before."

I'm not sure what Dana tripped on or exactly how she fell but one moment I'm looking directly in her eyes and the next I'm look straight at her bum. I tried really hard to hold back my laughter, knowing full well how much my mother's pride must be hurt. Unfortunately, I couldn't do it. My sides hurt from laughing so hard.

Once I had a modicum of control I offered Dana my hand to help her up. She pushed my hand away and got up on her own. She cleared her throat and brushed away some imaginary dust from her shoulder. Once she had recovered fully from her fall she looked at me for a moment her mouth working but nothing coming out. She cleared her throat once more and finally was able to voice whatever thought it was she was having. "Uh?what?um?do you uh?mean?uh?exactly?"

Just from the way she asked the question I knew she had a really good idea about what I was telling her. "Do you want to go sit down before I answer you? I really don't want to see you falling down again." I pointed to a bench on the side of the track and Dana quickly walked over to it and took a seat. Her face looked a little pale.

I took a seat next to her and watched her as she took a really deep breath closed her eyes and released it. "Ok." She said finally. "You can go ahead."

Briefly I wondered if it would be better if I just talked to Audrey, my half-sister, about the whole issue, but I had already started the conversation with Dana and backing out now didn't seem to be very prudent. "Ok here's the story. Richard would like to take our relationship further then it's gone before." I paused and took a long look at Dana to make sure she wasn't going to somehow fall down again or maybe even pass out. When I was sure she was going to do neither I continued on. "I'm not sure what I want to do yet."

"Have you thought about becoming a nun?" Dana asked semi-seriously. "I hear there are great benefits." I gave her an annoyed looked and she smiled weakly then let out another sigh. "Ok." She said seriously. "What is it you want to do?"

I shrugged my shoulders. "I'm not sure what I want to do. I really care for him, but this is a really big step."

"It's not something you want to rush into, Tori. Maybe you should talk to Richard so you can both decide what's best for each of you." My mother told me gently.

I looked down at my hands that were now entwined. "I have spoken to Richard and this is something he really wants."

Dana immediately went into her little protective mode. "He's not trying to push you into anything is he?"

My answer, I'm sure, would be the deciding factor of whether or not Richard would live to see old age or not. "He's not pressuring me into anything." I answered. "But I don't think he really understands my hesitation although he really is trying."

"Well honey, you are the only one who can decide if this is right for you, and remember that whatever you do decide I'll be here for you." My mother told me sincerely.

I reached over and gave her a quick hug. "Thanks."

"That's what I'm here for, although I really wouldn't mind if you decided to become a nun."

An hour later Dana and I walked onto the basketball court to play a game of one on one. There were already two guys playing on the courts. Both of them were fairly tall at least as tall as I was, and I'm not short. They looked fit and looked like they could play the game well. Dana and I took one look at each other and came to a decision.

"Hey guys." She yelled at the battling duo. "How about some two on two?"

The men stopped there game and looked over Dana then me. They briefly conversed with each other then nodded their heads in agreement. "Ok." One of the men said. He was only slighter taller then his friend and had soft features. His hair was blonde and his eyes a very light blue. "I'll take her on my team." He finished pointing at me.

Dana and I looked at him confused. "What do you mean?" I asked him. "We don't want to play with you. We want to play against you."

"I don't think that would be very fair." The shorter dark haired man spoke up. "We're guys."

"What an acute observation?" Dana answered him sarcastically. "It's nice you realize the difference between the two sexes."

The guys looked at each other again then just shrugged their shoulders. "Ok. You can get the ball first." The shorter man with the ball threw it at me. "First to ten by ones wins."

I took a quick look at Dana then threw the ball back at the man who had thrown it to me. "You can go ahead and have first possession."

The man took the ball and bounced it a few times. "Whatever."

We set up the game with me taking the taller of the two guys because even though Dana didn't want to recognize the fact often I am taller then her. Those guys didn't know what hit them. The game was over fairly quickly and Dana and I found ourselves being begged for a rematch, which we graciously granted. Soon the guys were begging for instead the best of three to play the best of five, then seven. We ended up playing at least eight games, which we all won.

It just ended up that the guys had no clue what they were getting involved with when they agreed to play us. Dana is a really good basketball player and I've always been able to hold my own. I played any chance I got even though I couldn't play for a team any more because of my injuries in a car accident to my friend drinking then getting behind the wheel of the car. I could still play, but I just couldn't put that much stress on my body on a daily basis. Every time I worked out I had to wear a knee brace to help support my weakened knee. I never really let my past injury slow me down though. That often brought Sam and Dana a lot of aggravation. I don't know how many times Sam just asked me to take care of myself and then would tell me how much Dana and I were alike.

After our final game with the guys, having refused to play yet another, we finally introduced ourselves. The taller man's name was Kyle. He was in college and played on his schools varsity team along with his friend, the shorter guy named Brad. Apparently, they each had gotten scholarships to play for the school and I could tell their egos were just a little bruised from the beating they had each suffered.

"So do you guys want to go out and have some lunch or something?" Kyle asked us as he retrieved some Gatorades and handed us each one. "The least we can do is buy you two lunch for proving to us that you just aren't some girls who thought they could beat the big boys."

"I don't think that's necessary. Our payment was just being able to see your faces every time we beat you." Dana joked.

Kyle made a fist and acted like he was being stabbed in the heart. "Oooh. That one hurt."

We all laughed and sipped our Gatorade. "So, do you guys play for a team?" Brad asked wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

"I use to play for my school but really can't anymore."' I told him pointing at my knee with the brace. "And she," I pointed to Dana. "Is way to old to be playing for anybody. I'm surprised she survived the games we just played."

Dana narrowed her eyes. "Hardy har har" She pushed me gently away from her. "I could beat you any day of the week."

"I totally agree." I told her straight-faced. "You can beat me any day of the week except on Monday, Tuesday," I began ticking my fingers off on the days. "Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. That leaves well?" I seemed to be pondering this carefully. "Never."

"Where did you learn to be such a smart ass?" Dana crossed her arms over her chest and looked me up and down. "You certainly didn't get it from me."

"Hey, I'd like to see a game between the two of you." Kyle said enthusiastically. "It'd be interesting to see who the winner would be."

"We don't have to see who the winner would be. We already know it would be me." I said confidently.

Dana put down her drink and took mine from my hand and laid mine next to hers. She picked up the basketball and threw it at me. "The first one to ten wins." My mother had that look in her eye that told me she would be taking no prisoners. Dana is a very competitive woman and all the time I've known her has never once just let me win anything. Usually when we competed against each other it was all or nothing.

I bounced the basketball a few times then threw the ball back at her and smiled. "Check." Dana threw it back at me and the game was on. I scored first with an easy lay up then twirled the ball on my finger. "Make it take it?" I asked looking as smug as humanly possible.

Dana nodded her ascent and I checked the ball once again to her and she threw it back. As soon as I had bounced the ball on the ground it was quickly taken from me and I found myself chasing Dana to the basket. She scored easily and I was quickly reminded that I was playing a game, which my opponent had taught me how to excel in. My knee hurt slightly, but I ignored the pain and played as hard as I possible could because I couldn't beat Dana with anything less.

It seems like the game went on forever, but Dana eventually won the game twelve to ten, having to win by two. She was entirely too proud of herself, but she deserved to be. In all my years playing against her I had only won once and that was when I was playing at my peak efficiency. Our games always were really close, but usually just when I thought I was going to win Dana would find this burst of energy and the game would all be over, her turning out to be the victor.

After the game Kyle and Brad walked up to us obviously surprised by our little display. "Damn you can really play." He said directly at Dana. I could tell by the way he was looking at her he was really impressed by her and not just because of her basketball playing abilities.

Dana just nodded at him and picked up our drinks from the place she had set them down. She handed me my fruit punch flavored Gatorade and took a seat next to me breathing somewhat heavily. Sweat was dripping down her face and her hair was stuck to her forehead. "Thanks, Mom." I told her as I took my drink from her.

Kyle and Brad looked at me oddly for a moment; I'm sure wondering why I just called Dana "Mom". She had a rather youthful appearance and her body was extremely fit. She didn't really seem like your average woman in her mid-thirties, but as always Dana was the exception to the rule, just like Sam was. I think that's part of why they loved each other so much.

"You're her mother?" Brad finally managed to ask.

"Yep." Dana answered simply and took a long swig from her Gatorade.

"Wow. I just thought you two were friends or something. You don't look like you're really related." Brad took a long look at me then an equally long look at Dana obviously trying to see our genetic likenesses.

"You seem way too young to be her mother. How old were you when you had her? Twelve?" Kyle asked.

"I was about thirty when she entered my life." Dana responded casually.

I slapped her lightly on the arm in reprimand. "Why you gotta' be messin' with their heads like that?" I turned my attention to the two men standing in front of us. "She adopted me when I was twelve."

"Oh. That's cool." Brian shook his head in acknowledgment. He looked like he was still trying to work around the concept. "So you're adopted?"

I held back the urge to give him a sarcastic reply. Instead, I smiled one of the fakest smiles I could muster. "That's right."

"My cousin was adopted." Kyle cheerfully informs me. "But he was just a newborn when my aunt and uncle got him." He seemed to think about this fact for a moment. "I didn't know that kids who were twelve could be adopted. What happened to your birthparents?"

I usually admire bluntness. It is a good trait to have. I've always enjoyed questions that just get straight to the point. However, I wasn't too fond of Kyle's bluntness that was directed at me. I hadn't even known him more then a few hours, whom did he think he was asking me these questions?

Dana looked like she was about to respond to his question, but with a look I held her back. I figure this is a question I have to get used to answering. "They died in a car accident."

Kyle's eyes bulged out and his face clearly expressed his shock. I'm not sure what kind of answer he was expecting. I mean wouldn't it be obvious something bad happened with my birthparents if I had to be adopted. "Oh?I'm sorry." The tall blonde responded. "I didn't mean to?"

I held up my hand to forestall any comment he was inclined to make about the subject. "It's ok. It was a long time ago."

There was a long moment of silence before Brad stated the obvious. "That was a real conversation ender."

We all grunted in agreement.

"So what school do you go to?" Brad asked me desperately trying to rescue our discussion.

"I just attend the local high school." I answered. I knew it was a short response, but I didn't really know how to elaborate on the subject. What else could I have said? I wasn't going to start talking about my courses.

Brad and Kyle looked surprised.

"You look like you should be in college. What grade are you in?" Brad asks continuing this conversation.

"It's my senior year. I only have a few more months to go before I graduate." I say happily and hear Dana groan beside me.

"I thought we agreed that we wouldn't mention that until the week of your graduation." Dana puts her hand over her eyes and shakes her head slightly.

I put my arm gently around her shoulders and gave her soft hug. "I never agreed to any such thing. You and Mama are the ones who took it entirely upon yourselves to make up that ridiculous rule."

Just because I believe I might have forgotten to mention this, Sam and Dana are my parents. Dana is my Mom and Sam is my Mama; under trying circumstances Sam has also been known to be called Mommy by me. No person on this earth or beyond can tell me differently. I might still call them by their given names occasionally, but by using my terms of endearment I let them know, if in just some small way, what I feel in my heart.

"It's a good rule." Dana said indignantly. "Don't question the rule."

"Mom," I say gently. "I'm eighteen years old. I'm gonna' go away to college soon."

Dana moved out from my hold on her and turned to look me directly in the eye. She pointed her index finger directly at the bridge of my nose. "That's another thing we don't mention. You will only be called eighteen when you're almost nineteen, and we won't even get into you going away for college right now."

I heard soft laughter and looked behind Dana. Kyle and Brad were trying to desperately hold in their laughter. I offered them a warning glance then turned my attention back to my mother. "You do realize this is utterly ridiculous, right? It doesn't make any sense."

"I'm your mother. I'm not supposed to make sense." Dana said as way of explanation. "You're lucky Sam wasn't here to hear you break the rule. You know how emotional she is right now."

I can't help but groan at the truth in Dana's words. As of late, Sam had been extremely volatile in the way she expressed herself.

"We'll just have to talk about it after she has the baby." I figured the issue could wait for a few more weeks until the baby was born. It was the least I could do for my Sam. "This is a matter which can not be ignored." I pronounced as if it were the most important thing in the world.

Dana completely ignores me and turns back to Brad and Kyle who are just looking in on our bantering. "It was nice to meet the both of you." She reaches out her hand and shakes first Brad's then Kyle's hand. "We should really be going. Maybe we can play again sometime." Blue eyes turn to me; she smirks then walks off in the direction of the woman's locker room.

I am now standing alone with my two new friends, wanting more then anything to just smile and leave. I fidget slightly under their gaze and shift from leaning on one foot to the other. "So?um?it's really been great to uh?play and stuff."

Many years ago I had an English teacher who taught me all about writing a good story and/or paper. This image now pops into my head of her reading a report I wrote and telling me, "Don't use 'good or bad' in your paper. Try to find a more descriptive word. Also, don't use the words 'stuff' and 'things' they tend to weaken your paper. You want to be able to take a strong position on what you're trying to get across to your audience."

I study Kyle and Brad. They are my audience and I just used the word "stuff". Am I in a weakened position now, at least I sure felt like it.

Kyle looks at Brad briefly then looks back to me. "Um?I'm going to go on to the locker room and get my stuff. I'll see you later sometime." He smiles at me and leaves me alone with Brad.

"I should probably go and catch up with Dana." I take a few steps towards the basketball court's exit. "She might leave without me and make me walk home just for fun."

One time, Dana had actually done that. She thought it was hilarious and gained much joy in watching me walk into the house half an hour after she had arrived. Her reason for doing such a horrible thing was because she thought I was being a real smart ass and wanted to teach me a lesson. It was something about, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you," except in my case it was, "Don't piss off the person who has the keys to the vehicle and is your only way back home."

Unfortunately for me, Sam wasn't home so I couldn't just call her and ask her to pick me up. She was all the way on the other side of town. I ended up walking the five miles home. I didn't complain to Sam later though, and she for some reason felt I might have deserved it. She always did take Dana's side.

I was almost fully turned around to exit when Brad called me back and asked for my "digits".

"You're a really nice guy Brad, but just so you know I already have a boyfriend." I tell him hoping that tid-bit of information will allow me to now leave.

"All I want is your number, I'm not asking you out or anything." He responded lightly. "Just maybe we could be friends."

"I don't have a pen." Ok that was really lame, I tell myself. I don't have a pen? Who says that? I don't have a pen?. ahhh humbug.

"I can fix that." Brad tells me and walks over to his sports bag, which happens to be in the gym at this time. He pulls out a pen and a piece of paper. I briefly wonder what else is in the bag but then decide it's not worth thinking about. "Here you go." Brad hands me the pen and paper. I quickly jot down my number give him a smile and a wave then escape through the exits.

In my hurry to leave I run straight into Kim, the physical trainer. Fortunately for me Kim is a volleyball player who happens to be just about my height, so running into her didn't been she was passed out on the ground forcing me to remember my CPR classes I took way back when.

"Damn, I'm sorry." I pull away from her and see her put her hand over her mouth to keep the smirk on her face hidden.

"Where's the fire?" She asks me. I can clearly recognize her unique accent. I can't place it really. I decide to ask her where her tribe is located at a later date and time.

"The fire has a name and it's Brad." I tell her conspiratorially and discretely point at the figure behind me still in the gym.

Kim takes a look behind me then looks back to me and smiles, "Ah. Looks like somebody has a little admirer and he's coming this way."

I take a look quickly behind me and grab Kim's arm and hurry away. "Where's your Mom?" She asks me looking around as if Dana was just going to jump out from somewhere.

"Praying." I answered her between clenched teeth. Kim just gave me an odd look. "She's the one who deliberately left me with him." I explained.

"Oh."

I walked to the women's locker room where Dana was not to be found. On my locker I did find a note that read in her my mother's bold handwriting.

Too old my ass! Hope you're not too tired to walk home.

Mom

"I'm gonna kill 'er!" I yelled as I yanked my stuff out of my locker. "Better yet, I'm going to tell on her. Just wait till Mama hears about this." I noticed I was getting a few odd looks from the other women who occupied the locker room. I didn't really care.

"I'm gonna' get even." I continued ranting.

A blonde woman about my age came up beside me and took a seat on the bench rested between the two locker banks. She looked a lot like a younger La Femme Nikita. I wondered briefly if I had seen her before, but didn't take the time to analyze that thought because I was still angered by Dana leaving me. I knew I should have just run after her when she left.

"I don't care if it takes me my entire life," I turned and spoke directly to the blonde. "She's going to pay. This could be considered child abuse. I'm her daughter?you'd think she'd have some understanding."

The blonde woman gave me a very sympathetic look. "Yes, how dare she."

I threw my hands up in the air. "I know."

"It's terrible, really." She responded shaking her head gravely.

I sat down beside her and let out an exasperated sigh. "I'm glad you agree." I told her and held out my hand. "Tori." I figured I should introduce myself since this nice young woman decided to come and appease the crazy girl.

The blonde took my hand and smiled. "Kel." She shook my hand softly. "May I ask you what exactly I was agreeing with you about."

I ran my hand through my raven curly hair and let out another sigh. "My mother decided it would be real funny to leave me here and make me walk home."

Kel smiled. "Why would she do that?"

I shrugged my shoulders. "I haven't a clue as to why." Kel looked at me clearly not accepting that answer. I rolled my eyes. "I called her old."

The blonde woman looked absolutely horrified. "Why the hell did you do that? That's definitely something you never tell any woman."

"Yeah well, I guess I'll just have to put this in my 'lessons of life learned too late' category."

"Has she ever done this to you before?" I have no idea what prompted her to ask that question because it certainly had no relevance to this situation whatsoever. Besides, that would be I made the same mistake twice, which would mean I'd have to admit that out load.

"I don't see how that could be relevant." I said defensively.

Kel just laughed. "So that's a yes."

"I plead the fifth."

She stood up and patted me on the shoulder. "Come on, I'll take you home."

"Thanks," I thought about it for a moment. "Wait, you're not some lunatic who has escaped from prison or anything, are you?" I asked just to be on the safe side.

The blonde gave me an odd look. "No. Are you?"

"Nope." I answered quickly.

Kel leaned closer to me and her blue eyes looked directly into mine. "How do I know you're not lying?"

"How do I know you're not lying?" I raised my brow and crossed my arms across my chest for effect.

"That's not an answer." She responded. "You just answered a question with a question."

I smiled. "You're just gonna' have to have a little bit of faith."

Kel looked at me for a long moment. "Then I guess the same is going to have to go for you."

I shrugged my shoulders and stood up with my athletic bag in hand. "Lead the way."

Kel picked up her own stuff and led the way out of the locker room and to her car. She had the most incredible car I had ever seen in my life. I fell more in love with it then I had Dana's BMW coupe.

It was a manual NSX, Monaco blue pearl, leather black interior, Acura. I drool even now as I just think about it. The girl had a really nice ride and I suddenly didn't care if she was some crazy lunatic, as long as I got to ride in that car.

I believe Kel noticed my jaw on the pavement upon looking at the beauty and handed me the keys. My hand shook violently upon contact and my eyes flew out of my head.

The blonde smiled at me. "You want to drive?"

"Are you serious?" I asked incredulously. "Don't mess with me now. If you're kidding just be for warned you're waving a rare steak in front of a very hungry dog."

Kel laughed. She was very amused. "I'm serious." She told me. "Do you know how to drive a standard?"

Even if I didn't know how, there would have been no time like the present to learn. "Oh yeah."

"Then let's go." Kel took her place in the passenger side of this incredible vehicle. I ran to the driver's side and hopped right on in. I had an adrenaline rush and was shaking with anticipation.

I slid the key into the ignition and placed my feet on the clutch and brake. The engine roared to life and I could feel the power that now lay within my control. It felt really good. Errantly I wondered if this was even a fraction of what sex felt like.

With the simple movement of my hand I put the car in reverse and backed out of the parking space. With another simply movement I moved the vehicle into first gear and with some gentle pressure on the gas led the car out of the parking lot and into the streets. I wondered if Kel would mind if I took the really long way home.

********************

As I was taking the incredibly long way home Kel and I decided to stop and have some brunch. I made a quick phone call home, being sure only to talk to Sam, and said I was going out. I also informed her as to Dana leaving me at the gym. Sam promised me to have a talk with my mother post haste. Briefly, I regretted not being able to be there, but I decided the benefits of driving the NSX out-weighed the regrets.

I pulled into the nearest restaurant, which just happened to be the Pancake Warehouse. We entered the restaurant and were instantly seated. Our orders were quickly taken which left plenty of time for Kel and I to just talk; and talk we did.

We talked about everything from politics to the latest basketball games. There was nothing we didn't talk about, except our personal lives. We talked about our opinions and errant thoughts, but nothing ever got too personal, which could have been considered a good thing.

After we finished our food and left the restaurant we decided to go to the Chisalm Park. We had come to mutual agreement that we needed to walk off our large meals.

At the park, we walked around the large pond and chased the ducks. Not once did we actually catch one. Those little webbed feet creatures are surprisingly fast. Once we got tired of the duck chasing we went to the playground and played on every piece of equipment the park had to offer. It was an incredibly childish moment that I thoroughly enjoyed. We even joined some young kids in the game of hide and seek. Then somehow, we got involved in a tag football game with some family who was having a birthday part for their ten-year-old son.

We sang happy birthday to Tyler, the birthday boy, and ate cake with the family. The parents were terribly grateful for helping them watch over a dozen screaming ten year olds. Kel and I were just happy to chip in. It was really fun. All the little boys seemed to fall in love with us, and that was really sweet. They were all incredibly cute having been unhindered by puberty.

When the party ended we helped clean up and said our good byes to our new friends. We had been at the park for three hours and still we weren't quite ready to go to our separate homes. Kel drove us to the nearest movie theater where we just chose a movie at random to see. Between the two of us we managed to pay for the movie tickets and one drink along with a small popcorn, which now that I think of it cost a small fortune. Our money was running out fast, so this seemed like it would be our last stop.

I left Kel in the theater and went off to use the facilities. On my way, I saw this poster advertising this upcoming movie, Even Angel's Cry. On the poster was none other then Kel. I looked closer, sure my eyes were betraying me, but it was really her. The movie was starring: Kenneth Parker, Angie Garza, and Kel Wilkinson.

I shrugged my shoulder and continued on to the bathroom not too fazed by Kel's identity. I mean I was Victorianna Elizabeth Ann Marcus. Not a lot of things good faze me. I was going to mention to Kel that I knew though, if only to poke some fun at her. There had to be a reason why she hadn't had told me about herself, and I was sure the reason was because she thought I would treat her differently. I needed to inform her otherwise.

When I returned to the theater, the movie hadn't started yet. That tacky music they always play before the movie starts was playing. I sat down in my seat by Kel and reached over and took a handful of popcorn. I got comfortable and casually brought up the poster I had just seen.

"Have you ever heard of the movie, Even Angel's Cry?" I asked popping a piece of popcorn in my mouth. Kel noticeable tensed and turned to me.

"So you know." She sounded disappointed. "Go ahead," She waved her hand at me in a gesture for me to continue. "What is it you have to say?"

"Have you ever heard of a girl named Victorianna Marcus?" I asked popping another piece of popcorn in my mouth.

"Yeah," She said drawing out the word. "But I've never met her."

"Well now you have." I held out my hand, which Kel took automatically. "Victorianna Elizabeth Ann Marcus at your service." Kel's eyes widened at me and she quickly released my hand. Her jaw worked a few times, but nothing succeeded in coming out. I just winked at her.

Her jaw worked a few more times then she took the time to swallow and her mouth finally began to work again. "You're serious."

I rolled my eyes in mock annoyance. "Of course I'm serious. Why wouldn't I be? Do you think I just told you that to impress you?"

"Maybe." Kel responded seriously. "I've had weirder things happen."

"You flatter yourself." I chuckled. "I don't go around telling people I'm someone I'm not."

My companion seemed to finally believe me. "Wow."

"Yeah wow." I said drolly. "Now let's just watch the movie."

And we did. It sucked. I can't even remember the name of it now. It was so stupid. I had never sat through a longer movie in my life. I should have known it wasn't going to be good when I realized some hip hop artist wanted to write, direct, star-in, and produce the soundtrack of the same movie. It was just one really long music video that really sucked.

Kel pretty much shared my opinion and told me she would share mine with the hip hop artist who had made the mistake of making the movie. I really believed she was going to do it too.

As we left the movie theater someone from the press finally caught up to us. It was bound to happen really. You have an upcoming movie star parading around town with a newly rich young woman whose face has suddenly been thrown back in the public eye. Actually I would like to think of the public more of an arena. Some of the best games I've ever had to play have been fought out in the public.

That's what really changed my life. It wasn't the money. Millions of dollars in my pocket and a future that was as uncertain as the day is long, didn't faze me; but put a few camera's in my face and ask me a few questions about my private life and suddenly I fall apart. I become closed up and overprotective of all the people in my life I care about.

When the cameras and reporters found Kel and I, we at first blew them off. We told them we had just met and decided to go out. What could possibility become of that statement? What they saw was what they got: just a couple of young women out on a weekend hangin' out.

What was reported the next day and announced on every newscast was, "Victorianna Marcus is finally brought 'out' with new 'friend' Kel Wilkinson." It wasn't something to get angry about. It wasn't something I would pay too much attention to, and I didn't.

However, it became very apparent to me that it was time for me to do at least one interview. After I had gotten my inheritance, I wasn't going to go back out in the public eye. I was very comfortable just living my life like I had been for the past six years. There was to be no cameras, no personal questions, and certainly no invasion of my family's lives.

Dana and Sam had always said no matter what they would stand by me. Even if I wanted to grant a thousand interviews for hundreds of countries, they said they would be there with me. No matter what, I would always have their support. For the longest time I thought they had lied to me about that. Now I realize, however, that it was not a lie. It was not them pretending to be supportive. It was not them pretending that they loved me.

It has taken so long for me to realize those simple facts that became mottled over time. The truth I find now is that they were there for me, but I never chose to see them. That is a pain that burdens more then anything. I'm getting ahead of myself though. That part of the story will come.

I must just pick up where I think I left off. I was going to do an interview. It was going to be a one-time deal. I'd show up; they'd ask me questions; I'd go home. Unfortunately, media and simplicity never go together.

Against my avid protests, it was agreed that Sam and Dana would do the interview with me. They would be there to support me and answer any questions America had about them. The moment we walked into the studio, I had a very uneasy feeling about this interview.

My first clue that we had been set up was in Kel greeted me at the door and told me she didn't know I'd be there. She said they called her to do an interview about being a new Hollywood Star. Apparently, her agent said it would be good press so she showed up for the interview.

Over the past couple of weeks Kel and I had continued to just hang out. We had becomes friends and enjoyed each other's company. It wasn't anything people should normally get excited about, but there is a rule my mother, biological mother, taught me about the press. "Common news is only national news when it's sensational. If it's too dull, believe me, someone will find a way to make it sensational. You either find a way to make it to your advantage or it kills your reputation. Which brings me to another point, reputation is everything."

I think I was nine when my mother told me this. I never thought I would really use it. I never thought it could be so important to extend into my life. Wrong. I was really wrong.

In her own special way, my mother was teaching me. She was being a version of a parent. It was her fame that taught this lesson, and it was my would be fame that made her teach it to me. Along with many other little tidbits of information on how to outsmart the media. It was one subtle thing that allowed me to realize my biological mother cared for me. It's amazing what lessons are finally learned years after they are first taught.

Needless to say really, the interview was not what anyone expected. Ms. Georgia Tensely, the famous interviewer, set us up and it was her intent to watch us fall. Getting an interview with me after no one had seen me for years wasn't enough, no she had to go and stir things up to make sure she got the best ratings. Once Dana and Sam realized what was going on I thought they would actually cause Ms. Tensely physical harm, only my silent pleas for them to behave, I think, kept them at bay.

The interview started with us all, Kel included, sitting around in a made up atmosphere that looked like it was supposed to be a family den. It was too flowery and too dainty for my taste. It looked fake. No family that was a real family would have a den like that. It was too perfect to be considered real.

Sam and Dana sat on a loveseat that looked like pink flowers had thrown up on it. There were throw pillows that added to its unpleasant demeanor. A dark oak coffee table rested in front of them and shined liked it had been newly polished. Across from them sat Ms. Georgia Tensely in a comfortable looking chair that looked like it had been thrown up on by the same pink flowers as the loveseat. Kel and I sat on two chairs that were very close together. Our chairs faced them all and put us right in front of the camera crew. My thoughts were that this setup was not incidental.

I took an extremely long breath intent on not letting any frustration show. If these people wanted to put on a show, damn it, I was going to give them one. I may have been sorely out of practice from years of not having to deal with this crap, but that girl who could run circles around the press in the past still existed. It was actually kind of liberating to let her go again. She was a dormant part of me that seemed to be asleep for a little too long.

Georgia began her interview with asking Dana and Sam some question about when they first took me home from the hospital. They were easy questions designed to just let everyone relax and warm-up to her.

"Ms. Everett, Ms. Evans," The reporter addressed my parents. "For a long time, people have been curious about the two individuals who ended up caring for one of this countries most famous children. What do you think people should know about you?"

Sam and Dana both took on a very thoughtful fašade and looked at each other. Sam answered first. "I think the only thing that's really important is that they know we love Tori very much. Anything else seems irrelevant."

Georgia nodded her head and looked to Dana for her answer and Dana just nodded her dark head in agreement to what Sam had said. Georgia took a moment to organize her next question. "Just so we understand," She said carefully. "You two are a couple, correct?"

Again Sam and Dana looked at one another before answering then nodded their head in the affirmative. "What effect do you think that's had on your ability to raise Victorianna?"

I decided to take this question. "A lot." I responded. Georgia turned to me surprised. "They showed me what loving someone else meant. Not many children are exposed to seeing what it's like to have two people who care so much about each other carry that love over to you. Because they love each other so much, I'm able to see the power of true love. That means, raising me, they showed me the world isn't all that bad." I smiled at my parents conveying the feelings behind my words to them, because those words would always be for them.

"Are you saying your parents didn't have this 'love' you talk about?" I expected this would be Georgia's next question and was very prepared. "My biological parents did love each other, but weren't as in love with each other as Sam and Dana are."

"Can you elaborate on that?" Georgia leaned forward to appear more interested, no doubt.

"My biological parents were somewhat closed off. They didn't express their love to me or to each other like my family does now." I explained knowing I was now opening up a can of worms.

"I see," The interviewer said carefully, "so your biological parents didn't express their love for you."

I ran my hand through my hair knowing I was giving a sign to my uneasiness, but unable to really stop from doing the simple movement. "Not in so many words, no."

"Frankly, that comes as a surprise to me, Victorianna." Georgia said obviously perplexed. I couldn't tell if she was really acting this time. "I was always given the impression that you had a very happy childhood and secure home life with your late parents."

I looked to my parents pensively and wondered what I could say that would end this line of questioning. It became apparent to me that the sensational news would not be from interviewing Kel with us, but from the bomb I was just about to drop.

"My childhood has been greatly over-exaggerated in the past." I answered carefully. "It wasn't that I was unhappy or that I didn't care for my parents, but it's hard to live in an atmosphere where your parents are hardly there. It's hard to grow up with cameras in your face all the time. I often felt pressured to be someone, and something I wasn't to appease the masses. That's hard to do sometimes." I took a careful breath and took solace in Kel's hand that had taken mine. "Sometimes I had to pretend like I was happy when I wasn't. I had to smile when I really wanted to frown and I couldn't be a kid, because of who my parents were. Put all of these elements together and it doesn't make an overly happy childhood."

"Do you think your life would be better or worse if your parents had survived that car accident of that fateful night?" The woman had just asked the million-dollar question. This was something I had asked myself at least a billion times before and I was never able to come up with a real answer. I couldn't even be truthful with myself when it came to this particular subject.

"I think life would be different. Whether that is a better different or worse different, I honestly don't know." It was an evasive answer but that's the best I could do.

That's when Georgia turned back to my parents and looked directly at Dana. "Knowing what kind of life Tori would have had if her parents had survived and what her life is now, what fate would you have wished for her?"

"My answer comes from a very selfish place." Dana informed the interviewer. "If her parents had survived I would never have had a daughter as incredible as her. I can't imagine a life without her now, and refuse to try to do so."

Georgia turned to Sam. "And you Ms. Evans, what would you wish for her?"

"My only wish for her has been to see her happy. If being with her parents would have made her happier then that is what I would wish. Although it hurts me, just like it does Dana, to imagine life without her."

If I had been in any other place I would have cried. How the hell did I get so lucky to nab these two women as my parents?

"So," Georgia once again turned to me, "How has your life been these past six years?"

I thought about the question for a moment. "I've been through the highs and lows of life. It's been an eventful six years, but I've got family and friends and I've survived what's life's thrown at me."

"If you don't mind talking about it, what about your love life?" When Georgia asked this she looked directly at Kel. "Is there anything happening there."

I thought about bringing up Richard, but quickly decided against this. I wasn't sure if he'd appreciate his name to be thrown across every talk show and magazine that existed. I didn't really want him to have to deal with all this.

"I have one." And that was all the information I was going to give about that. Georgia didn't give up though. "Surely a young lady as attractive as yourself is dating someone." Again she looked at Kel.

"Yes I am dating someone, but that's all I'm going to say about that." I thought my answer was vague enough, but I made the mistake of looking right at Kel after I made my little statement. The only reason I looked at her was because under her breath I heard her say something about Forrest Gump and it caught my attention. Georgia read some kind of subtext into that and she smiled, because apparently she had her answer. Sometimes I believe people can get overly carried away with subtext, just like they did after this interview.

The interview lasted for another two hours with Georgia asking about everything and anything the "American People" might find minutely significant about my life. She asked Kel questions about when we met. Kel seemed to have integrated into my family life without any of us realizing how that happened.

We left the studio with Georgia informing us the interview would air in a month. As far as we were all concerned we were done. The interview had been given and nothing else needed to be attended to except life.

Three weeks after the interview I was supposed to meet Kel at some restaurant for dinner and then we were going to see a movie. I insisted we go see one of hers. I now on refused to watch any of her movies without her being there with me so I could just bug her. I took joy where I could find it.

We were in the restaurant and had ordered our food when in walks a stranger. Well, he really wasn't a stranger he was more my boyfriend who had told me he couldn't go out this weekend because he had to spend time with his family or some other lame excuse. Whatever the reason, it was an obvious lie because he walks into the restaurant with Kimberly Roberts attached to his side. She's a cheerleader for our high school and she and I were acquaintances; we weren't exactly friends, but not enemies either. I had feeling though, that now we would be.

"I can't believe him, that bastard." I hissed upon seeing the couple being seated across the restaurant. Richard couldn't see me, because my back was to him and he was being seated far, far away, which could have just saved his life.

"What?" Kel asked me stopping in the middle of whatever it was she was saying.

"Richard is over there with Kimberly Roberts." I told her with a little more malice then intended.

"So you're here with me." She answered nonchalantly.

That threw me off for a second and ruined my entire course of thought. "Wha'?" I was confused.

"My point is maybe you should talk to him before you jump to conclusions." My friend explained.

"He's obviously on a date." I needlessly informed her. "We aren't." I indicated the both of us. "He is." I pointed over to his direction. "We aren't." I indicated us again then pointed to him once more. "He is."

"Ok broken record, I'm not deaf nor stupid. I can understand you perfectly." She sighed. "Just go and talk to him. If it makes any easier I'll go with you."

"He hates you." It was true Richard really didn't like Kel. I think he was jealous of her or something. He refused to admit his reasons as to why he had something against someone he really didn't know.

"Yeah so I'd be good back up." She easily responded.

I stood up from my seat and straightened out my clothes. "Aren't you coming?" I asked her irritated that she wasn't as angry about the situation as I was. She shook her head slightly then stood up and motioned for me to lead the way.

When we reached Richard's table the boy had finally realized I was in the same restaurant with him, and he looked really guilty. Kel caught the look as well and just gave me a tiny shrug of her shoulders when I glared at her.

I sat down right next to him close enough to almost be on his lap. "Hey baby, I thought you had to be with your family tonight?" I asked him in my best girlfriend voice.

"Uh?well?um?my plans?uh?" He just couldn't come up with a lie quick enough. I wasn't done with him yet but didn't want to continue to hear his fumbling of words, so I turned my attention to Kimberly.

"How have you been? I haven't talked to you in a while." She looked guilty too, which was why she probably just smiled at me but didn't answer. "Well aren't you both just full of conversation." I said sarcastically. I turned my full attention back to Richard. "Now do you want to tell me what the hell is going on here?"

I sensed a lie coming up so I put out my hand to forestall it. "If you even think of lying to me, I swear I will make sure you are never able to reproduce. Too many stupid people are breeding already, I'd be doing the world a favor."

Richard rubbed his forehead even though he wasn't sweating. It seemed just more of a nervous gesture. "I think we really need to talk in private." He told me softly as he looked around the restaurant. I followed his gaze and noticed a few people were staring. I didn't care.

"What is it you have to say Richard? I don't think I could tolerate being with you alone. I might just kill you."

My boyfriend swallowed loudly then took another look around the restaurant, but only this time to avoid my eyes. "Tori, I really think we should talk about this alone."

I turned my head to Kel. "Do you believe this? He wants to talk now as opposed to before he went out with Kimberly." My friend just shrugged her shoulders and glared at Richard. She was good back up to have in this situation. Kel was just about as tall as I was and was certainly as athletic. She looked like she could have been a volleyball player and she had been, but gave it up to pursue her dreams of acting.

Richard looked to Kel then when he realized that was a mistake tried looking at me but soon figured out that was a mistake as well. He finally settled his gaze on the floor. "I don't think we should see each other anymore."

I wasn't too sure I heard him correctly, but wasn't going to ask him to repeat himself. He obviously was missing something if he thought I would ever go out with him again after I caught him going out with anther girl.

He made me very angry. I was extremely anger, but I took a deep breath and let all my anger roll away. I didn't want to react to anything in anger, because I didn't want to do anything I would later regret.

I got to where I was to eye level with Richard and finally responded to him. "I'm hurt that you didn't deem it fit to talk about this with me before you started going out with someone else." I told him honestly. "I am also very upset that you put yourself in a position as to where I would find out about it like this. I thought we were closer to that and frankly, I thought we were pretty good friends as well. I'm not sure why you decided to do this, the only reason I can think of is because I'm not sleeping with you; but I truly hope that you are not that shallow. I'm going to leave this restaurant right now, and I'd really like it if you'd just let me go so I won't do something I'll regret some time way in the future."

With the greatest of ease I stood up and walked away knowing Kel would be right behind me. We exited the restaurant and Richard didn't follow. I could feel his eyes following me out of the restaurant and I fought the urge to look back. My friend came up to my side and put a comforting arm around my shoulder. "How are you doing?"

I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at her. "You did not just ask me that question?"

I could tell she suppressed an urge to roll her eyes at me and took on a sympathetic look instead. "Besides the obvious, how are you doing?"

"I'm angry, but more then that I'm hurt." I told her honestly. "I don't have a clue as to why he would do something like this and I'm afraid to talk to him about it later."

"Why?"

"I don't know." I blew out a frustrated breath. "I really don't want to think that it's all about sex."

Kel smiled. "It's always about sex."

I glared at her and decided to test the theory of a person being able to be killed by one look. "You don't know what the hell you're talking about."

Kel immediately raised her hands up in surrender. "You're right. I don't."

"Don't patronize me." I told her menacingly.

She just chose to ignore my comment. "Well, do you still want to go see a movie?"

"Actually I really just feel like going home."

To be continued in: Extended Family



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