As every Wednesday night, Robin picked up Sarah and drove to the Old Brewery for their play night. The place was buzzing with the usual crowd as the couple strode into the pub.
The bearded thirty-four year old owner of the establishment waved to them and asked. "The usual?"
Robin saddled up to the bar as Sarah secured their usual booth. "Thom, how's everything goin' tonight?"
Thom Weber popped open a bottle of beer along with a bottle of Spezi then handed them to Robin. "Busy as ever." A broad smiled beamed on his face. "Just the way I like it."
After putting the drinks on a tab in order to pay later, Robin maneuvered through the crowd on her way back to where her friend was seated. "Hi, Pietro."
The tall blonde wrapped his arm over his teammate's shoulder and said with a slight slur. "Helluva game Sunday. Maybe you should be goalie full time."
Shaking her head, Robin dismissed the idea. "Nah, I like to get out in the mix of it all." The Castle Hawks had played together for the last four years and during that time Robin only substituted whenever Michael wanted a break from being their goalie. He was a natural at it but every once in a while wanted to get out on the field and stretch his legs so Robin complied with his wishes.
When the young man leaned closer, Robin easily detected the alcohol on his breath. "Since we don't have a game this weekend… what about practice?"
"I work Saturday afternoon at the movie theater…. how bout after that? Check with the guys and let me know."
Pietro pointed an approving finger at the team captain. "You got it."
Robin watched him wobble off before her attention turned back to her friend, patiently waiting for her drink. "Here you go, Sarah."
"What'd Pietro want?" She took a sip of her beer as she scanned the pub for anyone she recognized.
Robin slid into the booth before replying. "Wanted to know about practice this weekend?"
Getting Sarah's full attention, she said. "Not Sunday!"
Robin was checking out the crowd, too. "I told him maybe Saturday evening. Why?"
"It's Dunja birthday. Did you forget?"
Robin rolled the bottle between her hands. "No. I didn't forget. She pulled me aside at the soccer game and reminded me that it was okay to bring gifts for her party."
Sarah laughed. "That's my girl."
"She's just like you alright."
Reaching across the table, Sarah tapped Robin's hand. "Hey, I've got an idea. Why don't you ask Kim to come along?"
The dark haired woman shrugged as a far away look came over Robin. "I don't know. She might want to be alone."
"Come on, she'd enjoy it. And it can get very lonely after a break-up." This time Sarah nudged her friend's arm. "She won't be lonely with my two kids there. Besides, she loves kids."
A doubtful look met Sarah's statement. "How would you know?"
"I'm a mother… we know these things." Sarah grinned.
"Hmmmmm…. Michael does complain…" The mock shocked look on Sarah's face brought a smile. "I mean… he can attest to the fact that you're always one step ahead of him."
"A mother's intuition goes a long way." When it came to knowing what her husband was thinking even before he did, Sarah always had the edge. It also extended to having a good idea what was on her friend's mind even though Robin guarded her feelings fiercely. Taking a chance, Sarah asked. "What's on your mind?"
Without hesitation, Robin responded. "Nothing."
Sarah decided to let her friend's evasive answer go for the moment. "You ready to play?"
Relieved for the reprieve, Robin drowned the last of her drink. "Come on. Tonight I feel lucky."
Over the course of the next hour, Robin and Sarah combated against the machine in a game of Shanghai. And it was their lucky night as they racked up enough points to win several free games. Nearing the end of their last game, Robin was suddenly sidetracked from their mission to win by the entrance of a woman into the pub.
Without having to look up from the game in front of her, Sarah elbowed her distracted partner. "Robin! Come on. The time's running…" The lights and bells sounded on the machine. "…out! Darn."
"Hi." Sarah heard Robin say.
When she finally looked up, Sarah saw Yasmin standing next to Robin. "Hi."
Relieved, Yasmin said. "I'm glad to see you guys here." She scouted the room briefly before asking. "Kim didn't show up earlier, did she?"
"No." Robin answered. "Can I get you something?"
Sarah bumped her friend. "We were getting ready to leave."
Yasmin frowned. "Oh, don't go. Martin's out of town and I… well, I don't want to be alone. I was hoping Kim would be here."
"No problem." Robin smiled before turning to Sarah. "Do you want me to take you home… then I could come back?"
Sarah pursed her lips together. "Get me a beer and I'll get our place. Come on, Yassi." The redhead wasn't about to leave Robin alone with Yasmin. Robin was naïve enough not to realize she was swimming in shark waters when it came to Yasmin.
Touching Robin's arm, Yasmin said. "I'll have a Kir Royal".
Robin hurried to place the order and get back to the table and join her friends. She was ecstatic with the surprised arrival of her old friend. As Robin waited for the drinks and with rose-colored glasses, she gazed at Yasmin. The jubilant feelings never failed to rise whenever the thought of Yasmin came to her mind. The dark curly haired woman with electric blue eyes wielded their magic on Robin ever since they were ten years old. Watching Sarah and Yasmin interact, she hoped her two old friends would get along.
"So, how have you been?"
"Wonderful… Michael and the kids are great." Sarah eyed Robin at the bar as her friend's eyes remained glued on Yasmin. "And you?"
Thinking that Sarah was rubbing in the fact that her life was terrific, Yasmin said sarcastically. "I'm glad everything's going so peachy for you."
Sarah redirected her attention fully at Yasmin before she said. "Yasmin, I know we didn't exactly get along that well when we lived at the dorm but we did have some good times and I don't know why you've always resented me."
Surprised by Sarah's abruptness, the slightly older woman said. "Straight to the point? I can appreciate that. So I'll do you the same favor. Toward the end of our school year when I… became pregnant…" Yasmin wished hard for a drink about now. "I know you and your friends laughed behind my back."
"That's not true." Sarah staunchly denied her old schoolmates accusation. "Yasmin, I had a boyfriend then, too. Most of the girls did. And even though the head mistress lectured us on the virtues of being good Catholic girls we all… participated in… well, let's just say some intimate situations."
The thought of Mrs. Hansen, the headmistress, brought a smile from both women as they laughed in unison. When Robin came back, she asked. "What's going on?"
Through their laughter, they said. "Mrs. Hansen."
Placing the drinks on the table, Robin sat next to Yasmin. "Don't tell me. Was it the lively discussion about sex or the clip clop of her heels down the corridors late at night?"
"Sex." Sarah and Yasmin said loudly then quickly realized that it had drawn several other patron's attentions. "Shhhh…"
Eager to join in the fun, Robin exposed one of their secrets. "What about the time we all went skinny dipping?"
"Hey now." Sarah protested. "We were only half skinny dipping."
Yasmin took a huge gulp of her drink before confessing. "Not me… when we were in the water… I took off my panties." She grinned before adding. "Never did find them."
Oh! A thought popped into Robin's head. That's who they belonged to. When Robin found them washed up on shore, she was too embarrassed to ask her friends who they belonged to. Besides her mind was stunned from the kiss that she had just shared with Yasmin a few minutes before in the water behind the dock as they were swimming. There was a long dock that led out over the water and most of the girls were swimming along the sandy beach where the water was shallower. Robin had decided to show off and make a big splash on the other side of the dock where the water was deeper. When she came back up to the surface, Yasmin was treading water, waiting for her. The kiss was over and done with before Robin even knew what was going on. For a moment, she thought she would drown. When she had recovered slightly, Yasmin had already swum away and that's when Robin made her way to shore and found the bright red panties.
Both her friends were curious about the mysterious smile on Robin's face. "What is it?" Yasmin bumped up against Robin. "Was it the time we all snuck out and hitchhiked to the next town so we could see the concert?"
"Yeah… that was it." Robin agreed, not wanting to reveal what was really on her mind.
But it was Sarah that corrected the blue-eyed woman. "You're the one that did that, Yasmin. Not us."
"Mmmmm…" She took another swig of her drink. "Well, there were so many times we'd sneak out. But it was a lot of fun."
The memory of that kiss weighed heavily on Robin's mind and she temporarily withdrew from the conversation. Sarah keenly observed her friend's sudden silence but Yasmin didn't seem to notice. That was not news to Sarah though. Yasmin paid little notice to those around her. The curly haired girl always had to be the center of attention.
Shaking her head, Yasmin recalled another story of when they were in school together. "You remember the time Kim stayed over a few days and we thought she was asleep when we snuck out. Fourteen and she thought she could do anything we did."
As Yasmin related the story of when Kim woke up later that night and then crawled out the window in search of her older cousin and her friends only to be nearly accosted in one of the local pubs, Robin remembered that night well.
"Good thing Robin decided to go back and check on her." Sarah said. "Or who knows what would have happened."
"She shouldn't have tried to follow us." Yasmin countered.
"But she did… and if not for Robin…" Sarah left the part out about Kim searching every pub in town in order to find them. In one of the rowdier pubs, three nasty boys whose sex drives were in overload cornered the frightened Kim. If not for Robin's timely intervention, Kim would have met with an ugly fate that night.
"I'm just glad I followed my hunch." Robin stared at the drink in front of her. "I knew if she woke…. she'd be determined to come after us."
"Yeah, she was a fireball even then." Yasmin finally acknowledged.
"You should've known she would." Sarah shifted slightly to get more comfortable. "She always looked up to you Yasmin. If you were doing something, she'd be right there."
Yasmin laughed at the truth of those words. "Yeah, but she had a crush on…" The curly haired woman grinned before she said. "…Robin."
Suddenly straightening up, the somewhat surprised Robin asked. "What do you mean?"
"Come on Robin. After that night, she worshiped you. You were her knight in shining armor." Yasmin couldn't believe Robin was oblivious to what was being said.
When Robin looked at Sarah for confirmation, the redhead agreed. "She did."
Stammering for words, Robin said. "I… well I… I didn't do anything really. She was my friend. There was no other possibility. I couldn't just let her get hurt."
Seeing three men walk into the pub, Sarah whispered. "Speaking of getting hurt." She nodded toward front door.
Sandro along with his friends Sebastian and Benno stood at the entrance of the pub. The taller man stood in front of his two friends as he scouted out the room, deliberately searching for one individual. When he saw that person, Sandro quietly whispered to his friends before he headed straight for her. Sebastian and the stocky man next to him took their places at the bar.
Sandro pursed his lips, nodding at the three women in the booth. "Yasmin. Didn't think I'd see you here?"
"Just having a night out with the girls."
Turning all of his attention to Robin, Sandro totally dismissed Sarah. "Where's Kim?"
Throwing up her hands, Robin said. "I don't know."
"It's our play night, Sandro." Sarah interjected.
"Tonight was my mother's birthday. She was supposed to be there." Even though Sandro hadn't talked to Kim since the weekend, he simply figured she would show up for his mother's birthday with gift in hand. When Kim called his mom and offered her apologies, Sandro was angry. "I called her home and her dad said she was out with a friend."
Yasmin tried to intervene. "Maybe she was looking for me. We talked about getting together tonight."
"Yeah, right." Sandro's dark eyes drilled into Robin.
Coming to a defensive posture when she stood, Robin suggested. "Maybe she just wanted some time alone." Running rampant through her mind was where her friend could be at this time of night. Robin knew Kim was probably in a vulnerable state and kicked herself for not paying more attention to the young girl's plight since breaking up so recently. And to such a jerk. What did she ever see in him?
Seeing the volatile situation about to unfold before his glassed over eyes, the inebriated Pietro stumbled over to where Robin stood. "Hey, what's goin' on?"
The alcohol on his breath forced Sandro to step back. "It's none of your business."
"Oh, yeah." Pietro said defiantly as he tried to right himself.
"Oh, yeah." Sandro spat then turned to Robin. "You better take care of your drunken friend."
Pietro called after him as he left with his two friends in tow. "Drunk my ass! In two weeks, we're going wipe your asses in the ground when we beat the hell out of ya." Swinging his head around back at Robin, he spit out the next words. "Right, Robin?"
Slapping his face lightly, Robin grinned. "Right Pietro."
Before she left that evening to take Sarah home, Robin ensured that Pietro had a ride home and made sure Yasmin was okay to drive. When Robin parked her car in her garage, she briefly thought about calling Kim's home to check on her but it was very late. Grabbing her cell phone, Robin got out of her car and went into her home. "Next time I see her, I'm gonna get her cell phone number."
"What's your number?" Robin demanded.
Twisting around, Kim practically jumped out of her skin when she saw Robin. "I didn't hear you come in."
With her two hands firmly attached to the counter, Robin sternly asked again. "What's your cell phone number?"
"Are you asking or demanding?" Kim adjusted the flowers in the vase that sat on the counter.
The full head of steam in Robin suddenly deflated. "I'm sorry. I'm asking."
"That's better." Kim used a pen to write her number down on a piece of paper before handing it to Robin.
"Thank you." Robin wanted to explain her actions but somehow was at a loss for words. She barely slept the night before and her day at work went painstakingly slow. As soon as she could, Robin headed directly over to the bookstore. She didn't know what was going on other than the fact that Kim was ever present on her mind and the memory of that ugly pub incident from so long ago replayed in her mind over and over again. She was relieved to see Kim safe.
Kim studied her friend's fluid brown eyes carefully. It was as if just below the surface she could see Robin's mind working out something and her friend was unable to get a handle on it. "Is there something wrong?"
"No." Robin answered all too quickly. "Yasmin stopped by the pub last night. I thought you might show up. She thought you might too… since you weren't home."
Kim shoved a box in front of Robin. "Want some?"
The older woman glanced at the box full of chocolates. "No, thank you." Even though she hadn't eaten all day, the chocolates did not appeal to her at all.
Kim picked at a piece of chocolate. "I was here late last night and…. Amanda needed someone to talk to…. we both did…. I guess."
"Oh." Suddenly, Robin's appetite was back. She selected a piece of candy out of the box.
"How'd you know I wasn't home?"
Robin started to say something then stopped. She elected to say it straight out. "Sandro stopped by the pub last night looking for you… he must have thought you were with me."
"He's been a busy boy. See all these flowers…" She waved at the six- dozen different colored roses placed around the shop. ".. and the candy… he sent them."
Upon hearing that, the piece of chocolate's assent into Robin's mouth came to an earth shattering halt. "Oh." She replaced it in the box.
The younger woman laughed. "I know what you mean… kinda poisons the whole thing."
"He's trying to buy your affection." Robin zeroed in on Sandro's method of operation when it came to getting what he wanted.
"That's about right." Kim grabbed the vase on the counter and moved it to another table. "Can't say it hasn't worked in the past but….not anymore."
Dying to ask the same question that was on her mind last night at the pub, Robin declined to voice it. "Good for you."
"So what are you doing here?"
"Did my book come in?"
Somewhat disappointed, Kim said. "And here I thought you came to see me?"
"I did." Robin said quickly then slowly smiled. "That, too."
"Good answer. And, no, your book's not in yet. They're having a hard time keeping it in stock. But I'll see what I can do." Kim walked around the counter to stand in front of Robin. Grabbing her hand, Kim said. "Come here. I want to show you something."
Robin did not hesitate to follow. Even as Robin was well acquainted with the store, there had been some changes since the time that she used to spend hours in the store perusing for new books to read.
"Amanda's talking about selling this place."
Kim sighed heavily. "I just wish I could buy it. It's always been kind of a dream of mine." Kim stopped near the back of the store. "I'd start right here."
"The office is through that door and I'd make another entrance and barricade off this section…." Kim beamed as she waved her arms around excitedly. "… where I could have a children's story telling area. The kids could sit on the floor… and I'd have a rocker right there and tell them stories."
"Sarah said you loved kids."
"She did?" Kim smiled. "Well, I do. I think it's important to introduce reading to small children."
"What could be more exciting than reading a good story?" The innocent look on Kim's face turned thoughtful when she looked at Robin's sheepish grin. "Get your mind out of the gutter, Ms. Hart."
Surprised by that comment, Robin said innocently. "I didn't say anything." If Kim really knew what was in Robin's mind, she would have found a wonderland of innocence. For all of her twenty-eight years of living on this Earth, Robin Hart was just that… innocent. The grin on her face was produced because of Kim's overwhelming excitement as she spelled out her dream. Robin was touched that the young woman would share it with her since the older woman was very reluctant to share her dreams with anyone.
Kim brushed her fingers along Robin's cheek. "Robin Hart… you're teasing me."
A light tingle ran through the taller woman's body. Maybe if she can share her dream with me I can do the same with her. All of a sudden Robin was excited. "Kim, do you want to go to the movies with me Friday night?"
That came out of nowhere for Kim. So much so that she hesitated in order to digest the invitation.
"I can get you in for free." Robin started to feel as if the ground had come out from underneath her when Kim just stood there. "I work there… you know."
That made Kim smile. "Yes, I know."
When it dawned on Robin that's where she ran into Kim last Friday night, she felt embarrassed.
"And, yes… I'd love to go."
"It's a date then." The words were out before Robin even knew what she said.
I only wish it were. Kim realized what Robin really meant by her statement. For Robin, it was just two friends getting together but for Kim she had always wanted more. "It's a date and I'm holding you to it."
"No problem." Robin followed Kim to the front of the store just in time to see Sandro enter. Just like a bad penny. Robin hung back in order to give Kim the privacy she may want.
At first, Sandro didn't see the tall woman when he leaned over the counter and tried to kiss Kim. "Hey, honey."
Kim stepped back and instinctively searched for Robin, drawing in a calming breath when she saw that Robin was only a few feet away but out of Sandro's view. "I'm surprised to see you…. here."
"Can't a guy stop by to see his girl?" Noting the flowers, Sandro said. "They look great if I do say so myself. Cost enough."
"Sandro…. maybe you're hard of hearing but I'm not your girl."
"What are you talking about? Last Friday?" Sandro dismissed the thought. "That's said and done with, honey. I've forgot all about it. Though missing my mom's birthday party… and me with no present."
Digging in her purse, Kim returned the money he had given her. "I've got her a present from me. You'll need to get your own."
Frustrated, Sandro marched a few steps in order to go around the counter but was stopped in his tracks by the stonewalled Robin standing in his way. "Well, well, well… who do we have here?"
"I don't think the lady wants to talk with you today."
Sandro backed off only because he had an ace up his sleeve. When he leaned against the counter, a smirk rose on his face. "What time do you want me to pick you up Friday night?"
Robin's heart stopped a beat waiting for Kim's answer.
The only reason Kim hesitated was because she couldn't believe he still expected them to go out. "You won't be picking me up. I'm not going out with you."
"We always go out on Fridays?" Sandro's dark eyebrows hiked up in disbelief at her initial rejection. "It's our date night."
"Not anymore." Kim rubbed her temple as a sinking feeling began rumbling in her stomach. "How can I make you understand that it's over… we're over?"
His initial response was a smirk that he held for a long moment. "Maybe you better worry about what your mom understands. According to a call my mom got from yours, we're practically at the altar."
"What?" Shocked, Kim couldn't fathom why her mother would make that leap of assumption regarding her relationship.
"Said she got it from you." Sandro stood straight up. "Something about a special question I'm supposed to ask you and your answer apparently was a resounding yes."
"Oh, God." Kim recalled the conversation and tried to figure out why her mother had misunderstood what was said.
Sandro knew he could pour on the charm and seduce Kim back into his arms but didn't want an audience so he elected to wait for the perfect opportunity to knock. And it would be assured because Sandro was the kind of man who made his own opportunities happen. "Why don't I call you later?" Again, he attempted to kiss the auburn haired woman but to no avail. Plastering a smile on his face, Sandro bid his goodbye.
Pleased that Kim kept their date, Robin eased up a few steps to stand near the shorter woman. "You okay?"
"Want to talk about it?" Robin gently asked.
"That's the last thing I want to do. Talking got me into this in the first place." Kim's mind ran the gamut of things her mother and Silvia could have talked about on the phone. She knew they were anxious to see the couple paired off and now it would be even harder to explain her feelings about the whole affair.
At first, Robin was taken aback by Kim's unintended dismissive comment. However, she recognized that the young woman had a lot on her mind. "Are you hungry? I know I am." When Kim's green eyes met hers, Robin added. "If you want to that is."
With a welcomed smile on her face, Kim simply said. "I'd love it."
When Kostas answered the knock at the door, he found Robin standing on his porch. "Robin! Come in… come in."
Smiling, the export expert entered and feeling a little awkward decided to talk business. "I wanted to get back with you about that collet chuck. To be honest with you, Mr. Patakas, they're using cheap material."
"That's why you're here?" Kostas grinned. "Call me Kostas. And I thought Elena told me you and Kim were going to see a movie."
"We are…. if that's okay with you."
Kostas wrapped an arm around her shoulder as he guided her into the living room. "I'm glad to see Kim going out with her friends." Upon seeing his wife sitting on the couch, he introduced the young woman. "Elena, you remember Hans' little girl."
Getting up quickly, Elena welcomed their guest. "Of course I do. How are you, Robin? How's Ross? And your grandmother?"
The tall man laughed. "Why don't you ask her if she wants something to eat while you're at it?"
Seriously, she turned to Robin. "Do you? We have plenty left over from dinner."
"No, thank you, Mrs. Patakas. I grabbed a bite earlier."
Taking Robin's hand, she pulled her to the couch to sit beside her. "That's what you young kids do. Grab a bite here and there. I hope you're eating healthy. Kim never eats as much as she should." Elena paused a moment to acknowledge a recent revelation regarding her daughter's eating habits. "Although lately, she's eating a lot better."
Again, Kostas laughed. "Must be all those years of you nagging her finally kicking in."
"I do not nag." Giving her husband a stern look before turning back to Robin. "What about you?"
"I always eat healthy food. Ross and his family are doing great as well as my grandmother. I'm going over there around Christmas and…. " Robin wanted to reassure Kim's mother. "I'll keep an eye out on Kim and make sure she eats properly."
"Oh, you will, will you?" Kim asked from the doorway. She walked up to her father, giving him a hug. "What have they been plotting about me, dad?"
"You know your mother." Kostas winked then kissed his daughter on the cheek. "But she only has your best intentions at heart."
"You better have added that last line." Elena threatened him teasingly.
When Robin observed all the smiling faces of the Patakas family, a lonely feeling dwelled up inside. She missed her family and sometimes on a rare occasion did consider moving to the United States to be near Ross, his family and her grandmother.
Kim noticed the heavy sigh run through Robin's body as she sat on the couch quietly. "Robin? I'm sure mom's already asked but do you want something to eat before we go?"
Standing up, Robin shook her head. "We should get going though."
"Let me get my jacket." The September days were warm and sunny but the evenings served up a slight chill from time to time and Kim wanted to be prepared.
Robin joined Kim at the door as they said their farewells. Kim kissed both her parents then walked through the doorway with Robin right behind her. Robin opened the car door for Kim then hurried around to her side and got in. "Ready?"
Smiling at her friend, Kim simply nodded her head.
As Elena stood silently at the doorway watching her daughter of twenty-four years, she worried that something was wrong. Ever since their last talk, Kim hadn't mentioned a word about Sandro and he hadn't been by to take her out in the last week. Instinctively, she felt something was amiss.
Kostas walked up behind his wife and wrapped his arms around her. "What's on your mind?"
"It's what's on her mind that worries me." Elena confessed. "She's changed somehow this last week."
"I don't know. She seems happy to me… even happier, I'd say." Kostas shrugged. "Maybe it's that big question you told me about the other day."
"I don't think that's it." Elena closed the door. "Maybe I should talk with Silvia again. See what she can find out from Sandro."
When Robin and Kim entered the movie theater, it was bustling with people on their way to getting tickets, drinks or heading to one of the showrooms. She whispered to Kim. "I always find it so exciting when things are like this. Would you like something to drink?"
Kim inched closer to Robin as several patrons passed quickly by her. "No, thanks. Maybe later."
"Okay. Do you mind if I check in with Mrs. Franz?"
Grabbing Robin's vacant arm, Kim smiled. "I'd love to see her."
Robin guided Kim through the crowd to the cashier's office. "Hey. You busy?"
Handing out several tickets to a tall young boy, Mrs. Franz thinly veiled her sarcastic comment to Robin. "What does it look like to you?" Then she smiled easily at Kim. "Good evening, young lady?"
"Hi!" Kim stood out of the way as Robin grabbed the phone, answering it while she sold several tickets. Finally, when the line died down, she asked. "Is it always this hectic?"
"We got a sneak preview showing tonight and that brings them in." Every once in a while the movie theater would get a movie in that is not set to be released for a month or so. And even though the patrons didn't know what would be shown, the fact that it was free was enough incentive to draw a huge crowd. "Problem is…." Mrs. Franz looked at Robin. "Mitch called in sick and Klaus is short handed."
Ordinarily, Robin would have not hesitated volunteering but she had to consider Kim's feelings. Her brown eyes shifted quickly back and forth between the two other women in the room.
Sensing Robin's inherent sense of obligation to assist, Kim insisted. "Go ahead Robin…. see what you can do to help."
Reaching up and touching Kim's arm, Robin asked sincerely. "Are you sure?"
Before Kim could answer, Klaus ducked his head through the doorway. "Oh, thank God, Robin…. you're here." Never having failed any request that the movie theater owner had, Klaus didn't hesitate asking his loyal employee for help. "Could you put together the movie we have for the sneak preview? I've got to get the other two movies started."
Again, Robin glanced at Kim for her approval. When the younger woman smiled, the projectionist eagerly agreed. She whispered to Kim before she started to leave. "I'll make it up to you…. somehow. And we can still go to the late show."
"Do you mind making it up to me now?" Kim asked seriously.
Garnishing her full attention on Kim even as Klaus waited patiently for her, Robin asked. "What can I do?"
"Show me how you put a movie together."
That put a huge grin on Robin's face. "Come on." Robin grabbed the movie case with her right hand that Klaus pointed out. And even though it weighed close to seventy pounds, the projectionist took hold of Kim's hand with her left one and guided her through the lobby.
After arriving at the projectionist room, Robin reluctantly let go of Kim's right hand in order to put down the movie case, trying very hard not to show how hard it really was to carry it from the cashier's office to this particular room. Seeing the astonished look on Kim's face, Robin couldn't hold back the smirk that wanted to appear, "You didn't really think that we just put in a DVD or a CD in order to show a movie, didn't you?" Kim just stood a little bit outside of the room and watched with a very curious expression when Robin opened the case and took some round objects out of it.
"These are the reels in which the movie is transported to each individual movie theater. What I have to do is sorting them according to how many reels there are, putting them in the correct order, checking out if all of them show "Head" or "Foot" and when I have this information I know if I have to rewind down or up." Robin began to explain while opening each round object and checking the reels by opening a little bit and looking for the words "Head" or "Foot".
"Actually, it's quite easy to put the movie together as soon as you know in which direction you have to go you just sort of cut off the start or the end and tape two reels together. For example, the end of reel one with the beginning of reel two and so on ….but you always have to check that the tone signal is always in the direction of your body so the audience can hear the sounds when you let the movie run. Otherwise there would be just some sort of scratching noise. While we're putting the movie together we also have to see if it's Cinemascope or the regular frame so that the projectionist knows which lens he or she has to choose."
While describing the whole handling of the movie Robin already worked on those reels and a fascinated Kim just watched how those separate reels looked more and more like a movie when put together with tape and the expert skill of someone who had done this for quite some years. Within forty-five minutes, an awed Kim could see a movie rewind from the bottom reel to the top reel.
"Robin, it seems very complicated to me but you make it appear quite easy." The younger woman reached for Robin's hand.
Beaming from Kim's compliment, they walked back to the cashier's office. "Surely you're thirsty or maybe even want something to eat."
"You did all the hard work. I just watched." Kim jumped up on the stool in the cashier's office. "But maybe a soft drink and a candy bar would be nice."
Robin thought about what Elena Patakas had said earlier that evening. "How bout a fruit drink… and some popcorn?"
"Okay." Kim easily agreed.
When Robin turned to leave, Mrs. Franz grunted. "What about me?"
Startled momentarily because the cashier never indulged in the delights of the concession stand because she considered it all 'junk' food, Robin asked politely. "What can I get you, Mrs. Franz?"
Seemingly thinking for a long moment, the cashier finally said. "Nothing…. but thanks for asking."
"Be back in a minute." Robin noticed Kim trying to stifle a laugh that nearly erupted from her after Mrs. Franz comment.
After Robin was gone, Mrs. Franz turned her full attention to Kim. "So what's going on between you and Sandro?"
Kim scooted closer as she leaned in. "Absolutely nothing."
The cashier seemed to mull that over in her mind for a bit before she asked. "And between you and Robin?"
Feeling slightly unnerved by Mrs. Franz poignant insight, Kim leaned back and said in rapid-fire succession. "Nothing.. I don't know what you mean… we're just friends."
Astutely, Mrs. Franz let the matter drop. "Of course you are."
Kim suddenly felt she may have revealed way too much to the older woman last weekend when they talked briefly in the cashier's office as Robin changed out the night's movies. Mostly she remembered them talking about Sandro and how he had become less attentive to her and had increasingly dismissed her wishes and desires. They had only touched upon the fact that Kim knew Robin years ago when they were teenagers. Maybe she noticed the almost giddy feeling I get when I'm talking about Robin.
The cashier finally broke Kim from her musing when she said. "Good friends are hard to come by." Touching Kim on the knee, Mrs. Franz added. "And Robin is one of the best… just don't let her know I said that."
As if sharing a secret, Kim smiled before she agreed. "It's just between us."
"Uh huh…. what's going on here?" Again, Robin became suspicious of the covert talks her friend and colleague had every time she left them alone together. Handing the food items to Kim, Robin eyed the older woman. "Up to no good again?"
Somehow Robin and Kim never got to see a movie that night. Instead they opted to talk with Mrs. Franz and Robin helped Klaus the rest of the evening as Kim tagged along, getting a crash course in the operation of a movie theater. Kim never complained as she enjoyed the evening immensely.
When Robin and Kim offered to take the cashier home, Klaus insisted that he could hold down the fort for the rest of the evening and the two young people should enjoy what was left of their night.
After ensuring Mrs. Franz was safely in her apartment, Robin reluctantly asked. "Do you want me to take you home now?"
"You have to be kidding, right?" Kim hoped that Robin wasn't getting tired of her already. She wondered whether becoming the tag along tonight like she did when Robin was at school burdened her friend. Quietly, Kim said. "If you want though… I guess I could go home now."
"No!" Robin grinned. "I was hoping you'd say no."
"Well, it couldn't be a bigger no then."
Robin started her car. "Are you hungry?"
Wondering what they could do that would be fun, Robin suggested a drive around the countryside since there was a full moon.
"That sounds wonderful."
For the next half hour, Robin drove through the center of town, checking out what was going on and finding nothing of interest. Unconsciously, she found herself driving the short distance to the castle on the hill.
Wanting some time to talk and have her friend's full attention, Kim made a suggestion. "Do you think there's someplace…. private where we could just talk?"
"I know just the place." Robin steered her car in the direction of her favorite spot, located just below the castle grounds. She positioned her car that overlooked their small town of Hechingen and they could clearly see the castle lights.
Suddenly feeling slightly awkward, they both adjusted several times in their seat before both speaking at once. "What do you want…."
Robin was first to offer. "You go ahead."
"Just wondering what was on your mind." Kim had lots of things she would have loved to talk about but she knew expressing all of growing feelings wasn't the best idea. Not yet.
"I was wondering what was on your mind." That made them both laugh.
Kim elected to go first. "Life…. everything."
"Yes… and no." The moonlight shone on her friend's face and it was easy to detect the concern written there. "Finding a way to tell my parents that it's over between Sandro and I."
"They won't like it?"
"It's not that… really." Kim sighed. "Our families have known each other for years and when Sandro and I started going out… they were ecstatic. I guess I can understand why. Everyone just seemed to think it was the perfect thing to do… us getting together."
Scratching her head, Robin debated whether she should ask the questions that had plagued her mind ever since she found out Kim was dating Sandro.
It was obvious to Kim that Robin was itching to say something. "Tell me. And don't say nothing… something's bugging you."
"I … guess it's just… hard to figure you and him…. together."
"Yeah, I can see that." Kim conceded after realizing that Robin had only seen the nasty side of her ex-boyfriend. "But it didn't start out that way. Most couples don't. In the beginning, you're considerate and thoughtful. You can't stand to be away from each other…. let alone stop thinking about each other. Then after a while, I guess the newness wears off and you start to take each other for granted."
Completely foreign to Robin's experience, she contested that thought. "I would never do that. You should put the other one first. It's about what you give to the one you care about… not the getting back."
Nodding her head, Kim agreed. "I think so, too. But to tell you the truth…" She stared directly into Robin's caring brown eyes, lit by the moonlight. "… both Sandro and I stopped putting each other first for a long time now."
"Did I stay with him?" Robin nodded. "Like I said everyone thought we'd make the perfect couple … I did too at one time. It was easier to just go along. Besides, with school and all, Sandro and I only spent one day out of the week together during the last six months or so. Oh, we'd talk on the phone but… it wasn't like I was dying for the phone to ring either." Kim watched Robin for a long moment and when she didn't say anything, the younger woman finally said. "Pathetic, huh?"
"No." Robin reached over, touching Kim on the knee. "Things happen and time goes on whether we like it or not. I can understand it being hard to recognize what's going on around you…. and before you know it seems as if…"
When Robin refused to finish the sentence, Kim encouraged her. "And what?"
"Tell me…. please." Kim placed her hand over Robin's hand.
The connection she felt steadied her but Robin had long since built up the emotional walls surrounding her deeply guarded feelings. "I can't…" Seeing the hurt expression on Kim's face, Robin tightened her hold on the younger woman's hand. "It's not you."
"You don't trust me?"
"No, it's me." Robin knew she had hurt the younger woman and she felt compelled to make her understand somehow. "It's just so hard for me to … open up. I don't know why."
"Maybe you should practice… it might get easier." Kim suggested.
"I don't know how." Robin withdrew her hand. "I just take things as they are. I don't analyze it… or even think much about the way I feel."
"Do you?" Robin was anxious for Kim to understand.
"You're the kind of girl that sees something needs to get done and does it….. going about your life and taking what it has to offer you."
"Right… exactly." Robin sighed with relief, happy Kim understood until she asked the next series of questions.
"But what about your dreams? What about the things you want in life? Isn't there something so important to you that you just have to have and you'd do whatever it took to get it?"
Pondering those deep probing questions for a long moment, Robin finally said. "It's too late for that."
"It's never too late."
But to Robin her dream had shattered the day Yasmin announced that she was getting married after graduation from the foreign language school. Some would call what she felt for the curly haired girl a crush but to Robin her feelings ran so much deeper. For eight long years, Robin did everything she could to get Yasmin's attention. Her mind flooded with tons of things Robin had tried to win Yasmin's heart from giving her little gifts to trying to impress the girl of her dreams. It was then the bike incident came barreling to the forefront of her mind.
Grabbing for Robin's hand, the younger woman held it tightly. "Just tell me one thing that's going through your mind right now?"
Kim's imploring look prompted Robin to share one embarrassing thought and she was very surprised that she did. "Okay… you want to know about one of the most embarrassing times in my life? There was that time I fell off my bike."
The younger woman held back the small smile on her face upon recalling that incident. Robin was about ten and Kim had been staying with her cousin Yasmin. One day as she was walking behind her cousin and one of her friends, Robin came whizzing by on her bike so fast she was like a streak of lightning. The trio kept walking until they came to the end of the street where they saw Robin on her bike propped up against the metal railing. When Robin saw them, she leaned back trying to act cool and promptly fell off her bike. So embarrassed by the whole event, Robin jumped on her bike and zoomed past them again without a word.
Robin grunted. "And I avoided Yasmin for a week after that."
"You were cute."
"What do you know? You were only six at the time." Without realizing it because she was still reeling from that embarrassing time, Robin unintentionally hurt Kim's feelings with her words.
Kim withdrew her hand. "I may have been six but I still know what I thought when I saw you."
"I'm sorry. That was thoughtless of me." Beating herself up even more, Robin admonished her actions. "I'm a total jerk."
"You are not!" Kim protested. "I know it was traumatic for you. Trust me, there were things in my life that were equally just as hard."
"Really? Who would ever hurt you?" Robin asked innocently.
Kim stared at Robin for what seemed like a lifetime. Someone who didn't have a clue. Someone who was too wrapped up in their own fantasy that she couldn't see past her to me. I was always just some tag along little kid. Considering that last thought, Kim disagreed with herself. "That's not true."
"What's not true?"
"It's just that sometimes people can hurt each other without knowing it. We're too busy trying to sort out our own lives and feelings."
"Are you talking about Sandro?"
Sandro…. you. Wanting to change the sad and disturbing subject, Kim asked. "You remember that time we all snuck out…"
"I think you spent more time at the dorm than we did because every time I can recall us sneaking out you were there, too."
"Well… this was the time we were so drunk…."
Robin nudged Kim. "It only took a couple of sips of beer for you to get that way."
"Hey… are you listening to my story or not?" Kim frowned at her friend.
"Yes, I am. Go on."
"Remember when we came back to the dorm and tried to crawl up the wall to the open window and I had a hard time reaching it?"
"You mean when two guys were also there and eagerly volunteered to help you up?" Robin's frown was sincere.
"I thought they were nice for offering."
Robin's smile did not reach her eyes as she spoke the next words. "That's because your jeans were so tight you couldn't hike up your leg high enough and so…" Robin glared at the young woman sitting next to her and said sternly. "… you took off your pants. Of course, they jumped to your rescue."
"Please…" Kim slapped lightly at Robin's arm. "What are you so upset about? You stepped in between them, practically knocking them over and helped me up…. safely back in…. I might add."
"They were four years older at least and believe me where they wanted to put their hands wouldn't have been safe." Robin's voice carried grave concern still to this day over the incident.
"Safe for whom? Me or … you?" Kim detected just the slightest bit of jealousy in Robin's reaction to the incident from so long ago.
"Them." Robin insisted. "After that, I had to watch you like a hawk."
Cocking her head to the side, Kim smiled. "You did, didn't you?"
Robin's only answer was silence.
"Robin?" The older woman gazed at Kim. "What's the one thing you really, really want?"
Sighing, Kim leaned back against the leather seat. "Don't we all."
When the alarm sounded at eighty-thirty, Robin dragged herself out of bed. The tiredness she felt was easily outweighed by the thoughts of talking with Kim the night before which brought a smile to her face. After getting dressed, she went about her usual Saturday morning activities.
When the alarm sounded at eighty-thirty, Kim's drowsy eye spied the time and she immediately flipped the switch off her clock radio then curled back up in bed. Her thoughts of the late night talks with Robin brought a smile to her face. She figured she had plenty of time to catch a bit more sleep before she had to go to work that afternoon.
Robin knelt down on her knee to light a candle at her parent's grave. Standing, she glanced around the cemetery and saw several visitors that morning. Wishing for some time alone to talk with her mother, Robin fidgeted back and forth. It wasn't only the nearby people that prevented her from expressing what was on her mind. The events of the last week not only plagued her thoughts but she somehow at the same time felt elated. Robin sighed heavily. Seeing Kim that Friday night after all these years brought a smile to her face that quickly turned to a frown when she thought of Sandro and his involvement with her young friend. Not knowing exactly how to sort out her feelings, Robin silently said hello to her parents before she walked away.
Kim tossed and turned as she clutched her pillow. The pleasant dream she was having quickly turned to one where Kim was standing in a dark valley between two imposing mountains. Knowing she was lost, Kim saw two paths leading out of the valley. Each mountain offered her the hope of escape but she was torn between which road to take. On one side of the valley stood a tall spectacular white-capped mountain framed by a brilliant glow but the path was narrow and jagged. The other mountain offered a pleasant grassy sloping trail to its peak. However, the top of the mountain was cast in a low-lying dark and brooding cloud. Kim shuddered upon having to make a decision.
Even Mrs. Franz couldn't get a rise out of Robin as the projectionist automatically went through her afternoon duties at the movie theater. "You alright?"
Glaring off in space at one of the movie monitors, Robin didn't hear her name being called.
"Robin!" Finally, the cashier popped her on the shoulder but Robin's eyes did not stray from the monitor. "You alright? What's wrong with you today?"
"Uh…. oh, nothing." Robin's whole body shuddered from a deep sigh. In her daydream, the projectionist braced herself for the impending fight as she faced the two-headed monster. After several attempts to gain advantage over the monster, Robin found herself poised to end the confrontation but hesitated because she couldn't determine which head to slice off. She realized that one head represented good while the other evil. Not only the daydream disturbed her but the fact that she had to choose between the two and not knowing which one was which, the young woman froze, unable to decide.
Mrs. Franz stood next to Robin and stared at the movie on the monitor. "Must be an interesting story." She leaned in closer as she adjusted her glasses, shaking her head she said. "That's an ugly dragon. The things you kids watch these days."
"You alright?" Amanda asked her oblivious employee.
"Mmmmm?" Kim had her chin propped up on her hand.
Shaking her head, the storekeeper rubbed Kim's back. "Everything okay?"
The younger woman let out a deep sigh. "Just thinking. Oh, by the way, Mrs. Wilhelm was in and picked up her book."
Amanda stared at Kim with a serious expression on her face. "Did she give you a hard time?"
Kim thought about it for a moment but vaguely remembered the transaction and the few unkind words the customer used. "I don't think so."
"You got a date or something? Because your mind is definitely on something else." Amanda shelved a couple of books but still kept a close eye on her favorite employee.
Kim shrugged. "Nothing really."
"Is it Sandro?"
Shaking her head, Kim knew that the thought of her ex-boyfriend was on her mind but she was more focused on another person.
Amanda slapped her hands together after she placed the last book on the shelf that was behind the counter. "Robin?"
Kim immediately glanced toward the front door, which didn't go unnoticed by the older woman.
"I see." Amanda said to herself before she addressed Kim. "Want to talk about it?"
Kim felt her friend come and stand next to her and she contemplated exactly what she was feeling. Finally, Kim shrugged again. "Oh, I was thinking about stopping by and watching Robin practice soccer later today."
"Why don't you?"
"She didn't exactly ask me."
"And you think she'd mind if you did?"
Turning toward the older woman, Kim said quickly. "No. Just that…. well, I don't want to…" She let that thought meet silence and instead said. "She did invite me to one of her friend's house tomorrow. There's a birthday party for her little girl."
Amanda noticed Kim's facial expression brighten considerably. Testing a theory she had been mulling over for days regarding her friend, Amanda then asked about Kim's ex-boyfriend again. "Did you and Sandro make-up?"
A hard glare rose on Kim's face. "No. Why would you ask that?"
Well that look just told me the whole story. "No reason." Amanda opened the cash register and withdrew a couple of book orders. "Could you order these books?" Kim nodded as she took the order forms. "Kim?"
The young woman looked up from the forms in her hand. "Yes?"
"What are you going to do about him?" When Sandro couldn't reach Kim at home, he called her place of work and then sent another dozen roses. "I don't think he's going to give you up without a fight."
Pursing her lips and deep in thought, Kim nodded. "I should have told him a long time ago how I was feeling… about us. I wanted to."
Amanda was about to prompt her young charge even further when several customers walked into her store together. "You need to talk with someone about all of this. Just remember… I'm here if you need me."
Touching Amanda's arm, Kim said. "Danke."
When the soccer ball easily rolled through Robin's legs, Michael jumped on it, gathering it up quickly to prevent the goal. Michael dusted himself off before he threw the ball back into play. "I know it's only practice, Robin, but come on."
"Sorry." Robin ran to the other end of the field and was vaguely aware of her movements. Her focus was way off when Pietro kicked the ball her way and she missed it by two feet but ended up on the ground anyway. Staring up at the sky above, Robin yelled. "Sorry."
Both Michael and Pietro came to stand over her.
"You two just going to stand there or help me up?"
"You need more help than that?" Michael reached down and with Pietro's help yanked their playmate up.
"Do you have to be so rough?" Robin complained.
"Sorry." Pietro mocked. "I didn't know this was a sport for pansies."
Grabbing the ball from the tall blonde, Robin dared him. "Come on. You want to go again?"
With a wave, he dismissed her challenge. "Not today. I just hope you're back to your old self by next weekend." The young man snagged the ball easily from Robin before sneaking his head around to give her a quick peck on the cheek.
"Hey! Stop that." Glaring at her friend, Robin wiped her cheek.
As Pietro ran off, he yelled. "See you next week."
Knocking off the clump of dirt from her shoe, Robin used one hand to lean on Michael. "Ready for the party tomorrow?"
"He's right… you know."
Cocking her head to one side, Robin asked. "About what?"
"You play next weekend like you did today and we won't have a chance." He nudged her. "Come on."
Robin followed him quietly.
"I don't suppose you want to talk about it." Michael figured he had to ask but secretly hoped it was a conversation his friend would rather share with his wife.
To his complete and utter surprise, she said. "Yes."
They walked the short distance to Michael's car. He reached in the cooler and offered Robin a drink, which she took. Then grabbed one for himself. "Okay… shoot."
Robin leaned up against the car. "How'd you know?"
Figuring she wasn't talking about soccer, Michael asked. "That you were thirsty or…. what?"
"That Sarah was the one."
Uh oh. Damn. I wish I would have paid more attention to what Sarah was saying the other night. Before they had retired for the evening last Sunday night, Sarah went on and on about how Robin was smitten with this girl. I just wish I remembered which one she was talking about. Was it Yasmin or Kim? Figuring he had a fifty-fifty chance of being right, he asked. "We're talking about Kim right?"
Startled by the question, Robin jacked her head around. "I was talking about Sarah. Why would you ask about Kim?" Michael felt totally out of his league and when he didn't answer Robin, she shrugged. "Oh, never mind." Robin emptied her water, tossed the bottle back to her friend then said. "See you tomorrow."
"Damn!" He could hear his wife now reprimanding him for losing the rare chance to hear Robin open up about her feelings. Guess I don't need to mention it. But he knew that would get him in even worse trouble.
Instead of going straight home, Robin drove around the grounds of the castle until she came to the stone bench that brought back many memories, some happy and some sad. Slamming her door closed, Robin walked the trail to the bench and just sat there for a long time.
This was the place that her father proposed to her mom and was the setting for the picture of her parents that Robin had sitting on her desk in her room. "Why would he want to know if I was talking about Kim?" It was kind of odd talking out loud to herself but Robin for some reason felt the closeness of her mother. And thoughts of Kim did not stray from her mind. "If I had my dream girl, I'd do everything in the world to keep her."
When a small squirrel ran down the tree's trunk, snatching a nut then stared at her, Robin added. "Well, I would. And I'd be faithful… completely."
As if agreeing, the squirrel scratched its head a couple of times then secured the nut before making his assent back to the top of the tree with his treasure.
"And I'd protect her, too." But Robin figured all of her vows regarding her dream girl were a mute point. "She's taken." For the next lonely half hour, Robin walked the castle grounds before deciding to go home and lose herself in a good book.
Glaring at her computer screen, Kim pressed the down page button again. She was reading a new story that had just been posted at her favorite website. It was a mystery romance called 'Murder at Bardcon'. Thinking out loud, Kim asked. "I wonder if Robin would like this story?"
"I wonder if Kim would like this story?" Robin wondered as she read the same new story that she had just downloaded from her favorite website. "I do love a good murder mystery."
For both of them, the day held an unsettling premise, each wishing they had acted upon their own desires.
When Robin arrived with Kim the next day to her friend's house, she carried with her a large present. And before she could even wish the little girl a happy birthday, the six year old had grabbed the box and opened it.
"Wow!" Dunja's blue eyes widened upon seeing all the pretty colors. "Danke, Robin…." She said to her mom's friend then looked at Kim. "And you, too."
Kim had brought her own present but Robin was thoughtful enough to add her name to the gift full of crayons, colored pencils and markers along with glitter glue and stick on tattoos. "Here's another one."
Grabbing at it, Dunja tore through the paper revealing several books. "These are my favorites. Would you read them to me now?" The little girl stood in front of Kim with a pleading look on her face.
"Come on now, Dunja. Let's have some cake and ice cream first." Sarah guided her daughter toward the kitchen.
Phillip hurried past his mother and sister. "I get to blow out the candles."
Letting go of her mother's hand, Dunja scrambled after him. "No, you don't."
"Michael?" Sarah motioned for him to take care of the kids before they got into a fight. Her husband quickly ran after their two children, joining in on the impromptu mock battle over who was going to blow out the candles on the cake. She turned back to properly greet her guests. "It's been like this all day. Their grandparents were here earlier and brought candy and…. " Sarah sucked in a breath. "Anyway, I'm glad you're here."
"Thanks for inviting me. It was very kind of you." Kim smiled.
"Are you kidding? I could use another pair of hands with four kids in the house."
At first, Kim was clueless until Robin said. "Very funny, Sarah. Hey! Guys, wait up for me."
Kim watched Robin join in the fray with Michael and the two children as they each took their turn blowing out the candles on the cake. One by one after Michael relit the candles, each made a wish then blew hard.
"See what I mean?" Sarah placed her hand on Kim's back, nudging her along as they walked down the hall to the kitchen.
After cake and ice cream had been served and Dunja coaxed Kim into reading one of the books she had bought the young girl, Michael suggested a game of soccer out in the backyard. His two kids eagerly grabbed their father's arms, trying to pull him outside. "What about you guys?" Both Sarah and Kim declined. "Robin?"
Not wanting to leave Kim's side just yet, Robin said. "I'll be out in a minute."
Kim placed a hand on Robin's arm. "I'll be okay. Why don't you go on?"
"Nah. I will in a bit." Robin shrugged. She was still amazed at the beautiful serene picture of Kim reading to Sarah's children as Dunja claimed her place in the storyteller's lap while Phillip sat close by, both listening intently. Then out of the blue, she said. "You're going to make a great mother."
It took a moment for Kim to absorb the compliment her friend gave her. "You will, too."
"No… I don't… not me." Robin stuttered.
"You don't want children?" Kim questioned.
"It's not that…. I love kids." Robin squirmed uneasy in her chair. "It's just that I can't see me having any… you know."
"Oh…. you don't want to go through the hard part." Kim referred to the nine months of pregnancy.
Sarah grunted. "It's all the hard part. The pregnancy's just phase one. After they're born, you start phase two and if you're lucky, you have someone to go through it with you." The redhead gazed out the back sliding doors, watching her husband play with their two children.
"I'd be there." Robin said seriously.
A concerned expression came over Robin's face. "You don't think I would?"
"No…no…" The younger woman grabbed Robin's hand, taking it in hers. "I know you would and…. she'd be one lucky person to have you there with her through all of it."
A brief moment of silence passed between the trio. Sarah knew of Robin's sexual preference but since her friend never dated, that discussion rarely ever came up. The other topic that all three of them were aware of to varying degrees was the incredible torch Robin carried for Yasmin since she was around ten years old. But that flame paled compared to the blaze that burned in Kim's heart for Robin. And on this particular subject, Robin was nearly clueless while Sarah had an intuitive inclination about just how much Kim cared for her friend.
"I guess I should get out there and help Michael. I can see he's no match against those two." Reluctantly, Robin slipped her hand from Kim's.
They both watched Robin leave and join the already in progress and hotly disputed soccer game outside. Silence reigned for a few long moments until Sarah spoke up. "How's Yasmin and her husband doing?"
In a small town the size of Hechingen, it wasn't surprising to find out that everyone knew a little bit of what was going on with each other around town. "Oh, it's all that traveling he does. Yassi gets lonely."
"It's none of my business, Kim, but if you're interested…. you've got your work cut out for you."
Kim was ready to play innocent yet something inside her told her she could trust the redhead sitting next to her. "I am. And I know. She's so hung up over Yassi… it's like she can't see what's right in front of her."
"Robin's an enigma." Sarah offered Kim a drink before getting one for herself. "When her parents died, she barricaded up her feelings behind that emotional wall around her." Thinking for a moment, the redhead clarified her statement. "Even before that though…. when we were in school, Robin never did really hang with any one group…. and that includes Yasmin and her friends." Nodding at Kim, she continued. "You were the exception to that rule."
"What do you mean?" Now very curious, Kim sat up straight.
"Whenever you came to visit your cousin there, Robin made sure she was around."
"As my protector… she only thought of me as a little kid." Kim grimaced at the next thought on her mind. "Still does."
"She doesn't have to." Sarah suggested.
"I wish. But eighteen years of pining away for someone isn't easy to get over."
"No, it isn't, is it?" Sarah threw out her suspicion regarding how long Kim did her own pining over Robin.
The penetrating question hit its target. "How'd you know?"
"Come on." Sarah smiled. "I can still remember the stories you told about Robin when you first met her you were …. what?"
"How she climbed the tree to save that little tiger cat for you?"
Kim laughed. "He was a tiger alright. Robin still has that scar on her chin."
"And the bike incident and the time you were all playing up by the castle one evening when some boys tried to scare you and Robin…."
"Suddenly she was there… rescuing us." Kim sighed. "I used to think she was my personal savior…."
Kim ignored Sarah's insinuation. "Until I realized she was just following Yassi around… and I just happened to be her little tag along cousin."
"Listen, Robin's faithful and that's part of the problem."
"I thought being faithful was a good thing?"
Sarah scooted closer to her friend. "It is… and it's only my opinion but it's like Robin got stuck in some kind of time warp and can't get out. Yasmin kissing her that day at the lake, didn't help either."
"Oh, we were all skin…. swimming one day and on a bet from some of her friends, your cousin kissed Robin." Sarah crossed her legs. "There were rumors that Robin liked Yasmin… which was true."
"I didn't know….. about the kiss."
"Yeah, and to make matters worse… Robin found out. One of Yasmin's sick friends thought it would be funny to tell her." Sarah stretched out, trying to relax after her long day. "Now Robin's never told me this… she's like Fort Knox to get information out of…. but after that, she changed."
"Closing herself off emotionally even more."
"That's my guess and that's exactly where you need to start." Sarah glanced at Kim. "She's not going to be an easy safe to crack but what's behind that iron clad door is a wealth of…."
"You don't have to tell something I don't already know."
On the ride home, Kim had a lot to think about and her silence caused Robin to be concerned. "Are you mad at me?"
"What? Oh, no." Kim slid her hand along Robin's arm and was rewarded with a smile from her friend. Kim knew Robin loved to be touched. "Thank you for taking me with you."
"No problem." Robin turned the engine off. "You're home."
"So I am." Reluctant to get out of the car, Kim asked. "What are you going to do the rest of the week?"
"Work mostly. Wednesday night Sarah and I will be at the pub… as usual. I don't suppose you'd maybe stop by."
"I don't see why not. I was going to last week but Amanda needed someone to talk with."
"Good then." Robin's smile grew. "We can play some games together."
"I've never played those things much."
"No problem…. I'll show you."
Kim started to open her door when Robin hurriedly asked. "What about next weekend?"
"What about it?" Hoping that Robin would want to spend some time with her.
"I work Friday night at the movie theater but maybe we could see that movie Saturday night since we didn't go last Friday."
Kim used all the strength in her not to reach up and touch Robin's cheek. "It's a date then."
The happy look on Kim's face soon disappeared when she walked through the front door of her house. Seeing her mother come running from the kitchen, Kim knew something was wrong. "What happened?"
"Elena!" Kostas followed his overexcited wife. "You don't have to run around like the world has ended."
"What is it?" Kim grew even more concerned. "Mother?"
Calming herself, Elena spoke precisely. "Silvia called earlier… shortly after you left. Kim, is it true? You and Sandro have broken up?"
We're broken up all right. "I know I should have told you earlier but…"
"So it's true?" Elena had become suspicious earlier in the week when her daughter missed the couple's usual Friday night date and when Sandro had called several times searching for her daughter's whereabouts then there were the flower arrangements that arrived yesterday.
"Yes, mother. It is." Kim decided to face the music since she wasn't in the mood to dance around this subject any longer.
"Let's go to the kitchen." Elena commanded.
The kitchen was the hub of all of their serious talks and it didn't bode well for the young woman as she knew this discussion might take a while. "Hello, dad."
Kostas hugged his only child and kissed her then whispered. "Your mother just wants your happiness."
Settling down at the table, Elena approached the delicate subject. "This is all so sudden. Just last week, you were hoping he would ask you to marry him. What happened?"
"No, I wasn't." Reaching over, Kim touched her mother's hand. "I was talking about something completely different. It was nothing about marriage."
"Isn't that what you want? Both you and Sandro?" Elena was truly confused. The couple had been going together for nearly a year. And both families assumed that after Sandro got out of law school, their children would get married.
"I guess somewhere along the line I considered it." Kim sucked in a deep breath before proceeding. "Mom… daddy, for a long time now I haven't been…. we've… Sandro and I…. Oh…. we don't talk. It's like he's thinking one thing and I'm coming from a whole other place."
"Then sit down and talk with him."
Kim had to smile because to her mother that was the cure all. And why shouldn't she think that. It was exactly what they did as a family and it generally worked. "To tell you the truth, I didn't even notice that we had this problem until after I got out of school. I guess with both of us in school, we …. I didn't have time to think about our relationship and where it was heading. Though the last month or so I've tried to talk with him."
"You should try harder then." Elena looked at her husband for support. "He's a good boy. So is his family. We've known each other for years and your father and Johann are in business together now."
Kim gave her father a sad look. "I'm sorry if this causes problems for you, daddy."
"Nonsense. Business is business. It has nothing to do with this. Does it, Elena?"
"Honey, that's not what I meant at all." Completely at a loss about the whole situation, Elena tried to convey her feelings. "We were all so happy when the two of you got together. You seem so happy and you make a very cute couple. I want you to be happy but… I thought you were. And Sandro obviously wants to make up with you. He's called a hundred times today and he sent you all those pretty flowers."
Kim's temper flared at that statement. "Mom, the flowers don't make up for the way he treats me."
Fists clenched instinctively when Kostas heard his daughter. "Has he hurt my little girl?"
"No, daddy. Not like that. It's like …it's all about him and what he wants. His future, his dreams, his children….."
"His children?" Elena didn't know to what her daughter was referring.
"Mom….. I have dreams. I want a career and I…. it may sound old fashioned but I want my relationship with someone to be like what you and daddy have." Kim confessed.
"But I don't have a career. I'm just a housewife." To Elena, her daughter wasn't making any sense at all.
"That's not the part I mean." Kim replied.
Kostas had a funny look on his face from his wife's earlier statement. "What do you mean by that?"
Kim realized her father directed his question to Elena so she remained quiet.
"Kim? You're father asked you a question."
"No…. Elena. It's you… I want to know what do you mean you are just a housewife." But Kostas didn't give his wife time to even contemplate the full scope of his question. "It's nonsense. You are not just a housewife. You are my partner and I am what I am because of you. All of this, what we have… our home… our business…. " Kostas smiled sweetly at his daughter. "Our daughter…. everything is because of you. You are my wife…." Kostas enfolded his wife's hand in his. "You are my life, agapi mou."
With her free hand, Elena caressed her husband's cheek. "I love you."
Kostas kissed his wife. "And I love you."
"See! That's what I want. Exactly what the two of you have."
"We want that for you, too." Still holding her husband's hand, Elena smiled at her daughter. "But I want you to think about something. You said that you and Sandro haven't really talked lately and that you wanted to." Kim nodded. "Then at least give him a chance to explain and you a chance to make sure what you want and… who you want to have it with."
Kim remained silent so her father said. "Whatever you decide, we are there for you…. always."
"At least think about it?"
Acquiescing to her mother's sound suggestion, Kim said. "Okay."
As Robin sat in their usual booth at the pub sipping her Spezi, she thought about how the place hadn't changed much since she had been stopping by every Wednesday night for the last five years. The one exception was the addition of several small placards announcing next week's celebration of the Old Brewery's tenth year anniversary of opening. It promised live music with dancing. Nodding at the poster, Robin said. "We still on for next Wednesday night?"
Sarah sipped the last of her beer. "Sure. I'm even thinking of inviting Michael if I can get his mother to watch the kids. It'll give me a good excuse to make him dance with me?"
"And here I thought you'd make me." Robin grinned. She learned to dance in school and was very good but rarely had the chance.
Noticing the young woman that just entered the pub, Sarah said. "Oh, I think it wouldn't take much to get you out there on the floor…. with the right motivation."
"I like to dance." Robin said.
"Do you like to wash walls?"
Robin had no idea where that question came from. "Huh?"
Seeing Kim approach before Robin did, Sarah welcomed her. "Hi, Kim. Here sit down."
Robin jumped up to let Kim slip into the booth between her and Sarah. "I'm glad you came."
"I was going to call you earlier but this week's been a mad house at work." Robin explained.
"I know what you mean." Kim pushed her purse down in the seat between her and Sarah. "Amanda hasn't been feeling well and I've been working overtime. As a matter of fact, I almost didn't come because I'm a little tired."
"I'm glad you did." Robin grinned at Kim.
Closely observing her friend, Sarah quipped. "You already said that."
Ignoring Sarah, Robin asked. "Can I get you something?"
"Just water…. I guess."
"How bout some fruit juice?" Robin stood when Kim nodded then leaned on the table and directed her comment to Sarah. "And don't think I forgot about that washing walls question."
After Robin left the booth, Sarah smiled at the younger woman. "Dunja decided her bedroom walls needed pictures on them…. lots of them actually. She just had to go and get her all those colored markers. Robin doesn't know it yet but she gets to help clean them up."
Hesitating a moment, Kim decided to voice her opinion on the matter. "Actually, I think it's good for a child to freely exercise their creative expressions." She remembered painting a few pictures on her own walls during her childhood years.
"I couldn't agree with you more." Sarah admitted. "And I don't mind so much her coloring her walls… it's the walls in the living room, dining room, our bedroom. Need I go on?"
"Got carried away, huh?" Both women laughed.
When Robin arrived back to find her friends sharing a laugh, she wondered whether she should even inquire as to why. Opting to remain silent for the moment, she placed Kim's drink in front of her. "Here you go."
"Thank you." Kim took a drink. "So what do you do every Wednesday night?"
"Play games." Robin said at the same time Sarah said. "Talk."
"So.. which is it?"
"Both." The duo chimed in together.
"What about dancing? I see there's going to be a band next Wednesday."
"That's only for the special anniversary." Sarah's blue eyes glanced from Robin back to Kim. "You're coming, right?"
"I…." Kim shyly chanced a quick look in Robin's direction. "Yeah, I'd love to."
"Well, we'll be right here as usual." Robin seemed genuinely glad to hear the younger woman would be attending.
Suddenly, Kim thought she may be getting in the way of their usual routine and said. "Don't let me stop you from whatever you two usually do."
Robin nodded toward one of the machines along the wall. "We usually play together."
"I see." Kim felt like a third wheel until Sarah spoke up.
"Actually, it's a good thing you're here, Kim. Michael wanted me to talk with Pietro." Sarah motioned toward the other end of the pub. "He's doing some extra work at Pietro's house and Michael wanted me to ask when it would be convenient to come over." It wasn't unusual for her husband to take on odd jobs in order to help friends and make a little money on the side. "Kim, if you don't mind, would you partner up with Robin while I talk with him?"
Kim clasped two hands on her drink. "I'm afraid I don't know much about it."
Taking the lead, Robin gently grabbed her arm. "Come on, I'll show you."
Mission accomplished, Sarah smiled as she watched Robin guide Kim to the computer game. "I might as well go over there and talk with Pietro… make it more convincing." Although, Sarah didn't think either of her friends would be paying much attention to her for the rest of the night.
Robin sank some coins in the machine. When the lights and bells alarmed warning of the impending start of the game, Robin ran over a few of the rules. "This is just a test of general knowledge. We read the questions and push the correct button for the answers."
"Yeah…" The first question popped up and Robin quickly hit the correct answer button.
But even before Kim could congratulate her partner two more questions popped up and Robin had already answered them correctly as well.
Glancing at Kim, Robin grinned. "And then there's of course the time limit we have to beat."
Kim's green eyes popped open. She hadn't even been able to fully read several of the questions before Robin had answered them. "I'm never gonna get this."
The first round was over before Kim knew what really hit her. And Robin felt bad when the younger woman let out a deep sigh. "I'm sorry. I'll put it on a different level. Guess I'm used to it."
"You mean the lightning speed?"
"Yeah that… and I read fast." Robin nudged Kim with her hip. "But I'll slow down."
"I don't know, Robin." Kim didn't want to look bad in the taller woman's eyes.
"Don't worry. You should have seen Sarah and I the first time. You'll get the hang of it."
"But you're used to playing at a much faster pace. I don't want…"
Placing a hand on Kim's shoulder, Robin garnished the young woman's full attention. "I can be very patient. Play with me? Please."
For the next hour, Robin and Kim played Shanghai and on three occasions, they scored enough points to win free games. Neither woman thought of Sarah or anyone else for that matter the whole time. They were having so much fun that Robin nearly lost track of the time and finally Sarah interrupted the duo. "You two finished giving that machine a run for its money?"
At first neither woman looked up, as they were so intent on answering as many questions as they could before the final few seconds ran out. When Robin was stumped on a question, Kim was right there with the answer. During their session on the game, they naturally fell into the habit of bumping each other against their hips if one was not sure of the answer and wanted the other one to take their best guess. It worked to their advantage more than once. They were a natural together.
When time ran out and the bells rang, they saw their score and cheered. It was the highest yet. Slapping their hands together in a victory salute, Robin dropped her arms only to reach around and pull the young girl into a big hug. "You did great."
"Thank you." An excited Kim said.
Finally, they noticed Sarah standing patiently by. "Did I just get replaced?"
With an arm still draped over Kim's shoulder, Robin grinned. "No. But I promised Kim I'd take her to a movie if we beat one of our old scores."
"I can't believe it." Sarah eyed the list of high scores and sure enough right above one of the high scores she shared with Robin now was overshadowed by one Robin had won with Kim.
"It was just luck. Believe me, Sarah. Besides, Robin did most of it."
"Hey! That's not true. We both did." Robin turned back to her redheaded friend. "Why don't you get a sitter and we'll all go to the movie Saturday night and get something to eat. My treat."
"I'll see what we're doing and get back with you." Scrunching her eyebrows at their high score on the list, Sarah grunted. "I can't believe that… her first time."
When Kim's beat up old VW bug that she absolutely loved wouldn't start, Robin offered to drive her home and she did right after dropping off Sarah. The ride to Kim's home was mostly taken in silence as both women had something on their minds but elected to temporarily avoid the subject since it was very late and they both had to work the next day.
Kim wanted to talk with Robin about Sandro and what her mother wanted her to do and the older woman was interested in getting Kim's opinion on the reoccurring dream she had been having lately. Actually, it was the same dream that haunted her nearly ten years ago for about a six month stretch. And Robin hadn't experienced that dream again until two weeks ago.
It all started with Robin standing alone on the railroad depot's platform as she waited for the train to arrive. She was expecting someone special to meet her. When the train finally pulled up and a young beautiful woman stepped off of it, Robin's heart jumped in her chest. The woman's face was not fully in focus yet was familiar nonetheless. But before she could take her first step to greet her visitor, a shadowy figure wrapped its arms around the woman and they both got back on the train. Stunned, Robin stood there alone on the platform as the train pulled away, unable to move.
Shaking her head from that disturbing imagine, Robin said. "I'll call tomorrow and make sure we're still on for Saturday night."
"Okay." Staring into Robin's eyes, Kim sighed but she couldn't find the words she wanted to say. "Goodnight then."
Robin anxiously waited for the time to leave her house and go pick up Kim before she headed over to gather up Michael and Sarah. Grabbing a lightweight jacket, she headed to the door when the telephone rang.
"Robin Hart." She said in the usual German way of saying their full names when answering the telephone.
"How's my little sister?"
"Ross! Hi. How's Jessica and the kids?" Robin wished her brother had called her on her cell phone.
"Rowdy as usual. Not Jessica… the kids."
"I know who you meant, Ross."
He grunted. "Yeah, well, my wife just gave me the evil eye and I figured I better clarify my statement. We're all doing great and you?"
"Couldn't be better. As a matter of fact, I was just heading out the door. I could call you back on my cell phone." Robin checked her watch. Even as she allowed herself plenty of time, the anxious woman didn't want to be late.
"Nah…. don't do that." Robin somehow felt the smile on her brother's face even before he teasingly asked. "You got a hot date?"
"Seriously. You should go out more." Ross often thought of how lonely his sister must be with only a few distant relatives left in Germany and the fact that his sister never dated. "Hey, I've got a great idea. When you come over next time, I'm going to introduce you around."
"Ross…. don't play matchmaker."
"I just worry about you."
"I have plenty of friends here and then there are the people I work with and… you remember Kim. She was……" Robin started to describe her friend but Ross interrupted his sister.
"Ah…. the little girl that had a crush on you?"
"Why does everybody say that?" Checking her watch again, she ended their conversation. "I'll call you tomorrow. It may be late though, I've got a big soccer game."
"Sure…. and good luck."
"Thanks. We'll need it… they're a pretty decent team."
He laughed. "I meant with your date."
"Would you knock it off? Call you tomorrow." With that, Robin replaced the phone on its cradle and flew out the door.
When the foursome arrived at the restaurant, Michael took his wife's jacket and Robin did the same for Kim. Michael and Robin followed the two other women being led to their seats by the waiter. Upon seeing Michael grab Sarah's chair, Robin did the same for Kim. When they were all seated, each looked around the fancy eatery expectantly.
"This is nice." Sarah placed her hand on her husband's hand, squeezing it. "Thank you."
Kim stared at Robin for a short moment before adding her appreciation. "It is very nice. Danke." Reaching the short distance between the two, Kim lightly touched Robin's arm.
"You're very welcome." Robin scooted her chair closer to the table. "I'm hungry. How about everyone else?"
They were all nodding their heads when the waiter arrived with the menus. For the next several minutes, they debated back and forth as to what looked the best on the menu.
"I don't get it." Kim said. When the others gave her their undivided attention, she said. "This menu only lists what they have. There's not one picture on it but here we are practically grazing over it and saying 'oh, that looks good'."
"It's just a figure of speech." Robin informed the young woman sitting next to her.
"I know. I was just remarking on how…." When Robin's brown eyes innocently gazed at her, Kim smiled. "Never mind."
Confused, Robin shot her friends a quick look.
"Don't worry about it. I don't know what she means either. All I know is I'm hungry." Michael dropped the menu on the table.
"Do not pay any attention to them, Kim. What can you expect from two soccer heads?"
After they ordered, Sarah asked. "Kim? Would you mind going to the restroom with me?"
When the two ladies stood up, Robin came up out of her seat just seconds after Michael did. They waited till Sarah and Kim walked away before being seated again. "What is it with women always having to go in pairs?"
"I don't know." Robin shrugged. It was a mystery to her and she never did it herself.
"We shouldn't fill up too much… with the big game and all tomorrow. One drink and that's my limit tonight." He raised his glass to his lips.
"You go ahead…. I'm driving."
As the dinner proceeded, the foursome engaged in light conversation about the married couple's children and the upcoming soccer games. Robin mentioned her call from Ross while Kim confessed she was worried about Amanda's health.
After Robin paid the bill, she walked the short distance to the door where Michael was helping his wife on with her jacket. Seeing Kim about to wrap her coat around her, Robin jumped into action. "Here. Let me help."
Curiously, Sarah watched the couple but said nothing of her observation. She decided to make a game of it that night. As Sarah deliberately prompted her husband to assist her with getting her something from the candy counter and opening doors for her, she closely watched Robin instinctively do the same for Kim. As they both stepped into their destined roles naturally, neither realized what they were engaging in.
To a trained eye, it looked as if Robin and Kim were on a real date as the taller woman nearly mimicked everything on how Michael was treating his wife.
Then after the movie, Sarah whispered to her husband. "Put your arm around me."
"Just put your around me… now." Michael immediately complied with his wife's request. Waiting on a brief moment, Sarah spared a glance behind her to see Robin turn to Kim and grin then reached across to gather the younger woman in her arm and pulled her close for a hug. Sarah watched as Kim's head fell to Robin's shoulder but stayed only for a brief moment before turning up to smile at Robin.
The ride home was spent mostly in silence until Robin stopped in front of the Helleis' home. "Thanks, Robin. We had a great time. See you tomorrow Kim?"
"I wouldn't miss it."
Robin ducked down slightly and leaned over toward Kim who was sitting in the passenger's seat. She called out to her friends through the open window. "Make sure he gets some sleep." Robin eyed Sarah dangerously with her command. Robin was well aware of the amorous couple in her backseat on the ride home and suspected Michael attempted a few covert advances on his wife as he whispered to her several times and kissed her once. It didn't go unnoticed by Kim either.
Neither Robin nor Kim said much on the way to the younger woman's home but both shared the same satisfying and content feelings that the night together had offered them.
Kim climbed the viewing stand so she could sit next to Sarah and her kids as Robin's team, the Castle Hawks, warmed up. The young woman noticed Sandro and his friend Sebastian talking on the sideline with several girls when her ex-boyfriend turned his head to see her watching them. He nodded his head once before taking the field with the rest of his team.
"Should be an exciting game, huh?" Sarah asked Kim.
Feeling a little anxious, Kim nodded. "I just wish it was over already."
Robin and Michael came running off the field and leaped onto the viewing stand. "Hey, glad you're here."
Michael took a long drink of water from his wife's water bottle before handing it back to her. "Wish me luck." For that he received a kiss from Sarah then turned to his children. "You gonna wish daddy good luck, too?"
Both Phillip and Dunja spared a moment from playing with the toys they had and said. "Good luck, daddy."
Robin watched the whole exchange between Michael and his family and it caused a sense of longing inside her. She wanted to have that same kind of connection with her own family. Forlorn and distracted from the game at hand, Robin offered a tight grin. "Well, we should get going."
Sensing uneasiness in her friend, Kim leaned over and hugged Robin. "Good luck, Robin. I'm rooting for you."
That kind gesture brought a smile to the older woman's face. "Thanks." Pulling off her glasses, she asked. "Would you mind holding them for me?"
Taking the glasses, Kim assured her friend. "Okay. And make sure nothing happens to you."
With that encouragement, Robin and Michael joined their teammates for the start of the game. As goalie, Michael took his place in front of the net. Robin along with Pietro positioned themselves near the center of the field for the start of what was going to be a very hard fought rivalry between the two teams.
With the ball in play, Robin got her foot on it first and guided the ball down the field. She passed it to Pietro who ran into a little problem with Sebastian. When Robin hurried to help her teammate out, she was bumped from behind. "Hey!"
With a malicious grin, Sandro said. "Sorry." Then ran after the ball and intercepted it from one of Robin's teammates.
The woman in the blue and white jersey sporting the number eight was not going to let Sandro get away with trying to intimidate her. Robin sped down the field, crossing in front of Sebastian as she slid on her side but was able to flick the ball over to Pietro. Unfortunately, Sandro was already near Pietro and snatched the ball again.
Scrambling to get up and back into the action, Robin headed to Sandro who was now on a direct path to their goal. Sandro bumped the ball back and forth between himself and Benno until they were within twenty-five feet of the net. Michael stood at the ready when Benno knocked the ball back to Sandro who got a solid foot on it, kicking it hard. Michael jumped long, stretching out the full length of his body to save Sandro's team from making a goal.
Pietro and Robin gave each other a high five. "Way to go, Michael." Their jubilation lasted only seconds as Michael kicked the ball down field, putting it back into play.
"Yeah, daddy." Dunja yelled after seeing her mom jump up when her husband stopped the ball from making a goal.
"That was close." Kim patted Sarah on the arm.
"Thank goodness he got it. He can make ten great saves in a game but if one of them gets past him that's all I hear about the rest of the night." Sarah confessed.
Kim was about to respond to Sarah when she heard a loud roar from some of the crowd near the sidelines. Quickly she knew why when she saw Robin and Sandro in a heated battle to secure the loose ball. Pushing and shoving, both players did everything they could to retain possession of the ball.
Robin came out the victor in this duel when she was able to get a foot on the ball and flick it to Pietro. The blonde player quickly seized control and headed down field. He never saw Robin get an elbow to the back by Sandro and neither did the referee.
Pietro did everything he could to protect the ball with his body and deflect the other players as his teammates got into position. When Robin crossed in front of the net, he lobbed the ball high into the air. Ercan, another player for the Castle Hawks, knocked the ball down with his stomach. It dropped in front of him and he took a quick shot at the net.
The ball was still alive even after the opposing goalie knocked it down. On pure instinct, Robin spied the ball and jabbed at it with her left foot, sending it into the net for a goal.
Kim and Sarah leaped up upon seeing Robin score the first goal of the day. "That was great. Did you see that? Way to go." The young woman yelled.
The next fifteen minutes of the game was vicious as several impromptu fights broke out and a couple of the players received yellow cards. Pietro drew a penalty kick but was unable to get it past the defending goalie. "Damn it." He flew past Robin. "They're out for blood…. watch it."
Robin drove the ball down field when three defenders emerged on her all at once, like hungry bees on honey. Unable to keep control of the ball, Robin watched Sandro steal it away from behind her. She twisted around quickly in hopes of stealing it back when Benno pounded her from the side, knocking Robin to the ground. The whistle blew and Benno was rewarded with a yellow card.
Michael called for a quick strategy meeting near their end of the field. "Robin they're all over you."
"Yeah." Pietro agreed. "Let me and Ercan take it up field."
Not wanting to relinquish her contribution to the game, Robin had to concede for the moment that even though they were ahead she was being targeted and that impeded their game plan. "Okay. But we have to keep the pressure on when we get in range."
Michael threw the ball back into play and it landed just a few feet in front of Ercan. The agile young man kicked, pushed and chased the ball down field as he bounced it over to Pietro several times. Robin, for her part, tried to get in a good position in front of the net only to be shoved around by several passing players.
After Ercan lobbed the ball to Pietro, he made a quick chip shot over two defender's head. Seeing the loose ball in the air, Robin ran then leaped up and was able to get her head on the ball knocking off to the left but the goalie's quick hands prevented it from crossing into the net.
Now the Castle Hawks scrambled back down the field as Sandro drove the ball hard. He passed it several times to Sebastian and then once to Benno who kicked it right back to him. Robin was hot on Sebastian's heels when he ran down the center of the field, trying to get in position for a pass.
When Sandro saw his teammate open, he lobbed the ball over Pietro's head and it fell right in front of Sebastian. Seizing the opportunity for an easy goal, he snapped his leg back for the kick when Robin charged at him and got her foot on it before he could. The ball bounced around a couple of times before Michael slammed his body over it.
"Damn it!" An angry Sandro cursed his teammate. "What the fuck's wrong with you? You had it right there."
But there wasn't much time for the heated exchange to manifest into something more since Michael kicked the ball back into play. This time Robin was at the lead tossing the ball back and forth between Ercan and Pietro before it came back toward her. However, Sandro slipped up next to her and kicked it out of bounds. Robin stood at the corner of the field ready to kick the ball back onto the field.
"Come on, Robin." Pietro and Ercan positioned themselves in front on the net.
Encouraging her on, Ercan yelled. "No one can bend it like Robin."
Benno bumped up against Ercan, laughing because he thought several members of the other team were way out of position. "You're fucking nuts." But even Benno had to stand in admiration when Robin kicked the ball high and it somehow turned and twisted until it made this perfect bend in the air and came barreling down exactly over Pietro's head. He took the shot and since the opposing goalie was off balance, it landed safely within the net for another goal.
Sebastian nudged Sandro. "Did you see that bend?"
Shoving against his teammate, Sandro yelled. "Would you shut the fuck up?" Determined now, Sandro sped down the field with only one thing on his mind.
Benno gave a good show of footwork as he guided the ball down field. After several short passes across the field to several other players on his team, he was driving the ball hard when suddenly Robin was right in front of him. With a bit of fancy footwork, he was able to hook the ball past her to Sandro.
Sandro juggled the ball as he tried to maintain control giving Robin enough time to come up on him from the side. He wasn't prepared for her approach due to her exceptional speed and the fact that another player diverted his attention. "Sebastian! Get over here." So intent on blaming his friend for not being in the open, Sandro's lapse of attention on the ball at his feet was enough for Robin to steal it from him. She headed quickly down field, leaving him standing in her dust.
"Fuck!" In a mad dash, Sandro chased her. He saw his opportunity when Benno slipped in front of Robin causing her to slow down her progress.
Robin tapped the ball back and forth, keeping it away from the defender while her teammates got into position for a pass. Seeing Pietro get in the open, Robin pounded the ball hard his way. She allowed a brief smile as she watched her blonde teammate set up for a shot at the goal. Sensing something behind her, Robin turned slightly.
Sandro came barreling down field and even after seeing Robin make a clean pass to one of her teammates, he slammed into her, head butting her in the chin. Several whistles blew followed by a red card from the referee.
Jumping up and out of her seat, Kim's green eyes slammed wide open. Unable to remain on the bleachers, she ran toward the two downed bodies on the field. As she hurried across the open area, pandemonium broke out among the players.
Michael rushed down field to help his teammates as the referees tried to maintain some kind of order on the field. "Robin!" He had a clear view of everything and even yelled out in warning to his fellow player but Robin never heard him. He reached Robin before Kim did and tried to protect the young woman from the bloody scene before him.
Robin's face was covered with blood and the red liquid continued to spurt out unimpeded. Hovering over his friend, Michael yelled for someone to call for an ambulance. When Kim heard this, she forced her way through the crowd. Seeing Sandro lying unconscious next to Robin, Kim stepped between them. First she leaned over Robin as her heart pounded in her chest, she screamed. "Robin? Robin, can you hear me?"
Vaguely aware of her surroundings, Robin's opened her dazed eyes. The blurry vision before her seemed somehow familiar yet she was confused. Robin reached up to touch the face staring at her and she was surprised to feel the soft smooth skin beneath her fingers. "Is it you? Is it really you?" When she spoke, she felt the throbbing pain near her mouth.
"I need something to stop the bleeding." Frantic, Kim yelled.
Michael tore off his red goalie jersey and handed it to her. "Did anyone call for an ambulance?" When everyone just stared at him, the goalie turned to Kim. "Wait here. I'll get an ambulance."
Immediately, Kim made a command decision. "Pick her up and put her in my car. I'm taking her to the emergency room."
Without a single rebuttal, Michael along with Pietro and Ercan lifted Robin up while Kim turned her attention to Sandro. She was happy to realize that he just had the wind knocked out of him. "Sandro, are you okay?"
He nodded. But Kim wanted to make sure so she placed her hands on the sides of his face and stared into his brown eyes. They seemed normal, both the same size. Kim asked him to count from one to ten and checked to see if his breathing was normal. "You seem okay but someone should check you out."
Happy to hear the concern in her voice, Sandro tried to sit up. "Kim, would you……" But the auburn haired woman left his side quickly when she heard Robin moan.
"I can stand by myself." Robin complained to her friends.
"Robin Hart!" Kim slipped under her right side while Michael still held on to Robin's other arm. "I'm taking you to the doctors and I don't want to hear another word."
Robin quietly complied with the small woman next to her as an upset Sandro pounded his fist into the ground.
Michael and Sarah along with their kids followed the whizzing red VW down the road and through the streets of Hechingen on its way to the emergency room. "Do you think she knows what a stop sign means?" Michael wondered.
As Kim rushed Robin into the emergency, her concern over her friend had not subsided in the least. The goalie's already red jersey was soaked with blood and Robin's lip showed no sign of stopping from bleeding. Even Robin had to admit to herself that she was feeling faint headed from the loss of blood.
Upon arriving at the emergency room and seeing the first nurse that came into view, Kim demanded. "We need some help here?"
The nurse immediately assisted the injured woman to a table. She quickly surveyed the injured area and applied some bandages to alleviate the bleeding. "We need to get this stitched up right way."
"Hurry please." Kim pleaded. She wasn't at all happy about the bleeding lip that wouldn't stop or by her friend's uneven pupils.
In short order, the doctor arrived and made her assessment. "Let's do it."
When the nurse, Margit, reached for the anesthetic, the doctor stopped her. "We don't have time. She needs the sutures now."
Robin wasn't about to protest as she clamped onto Kim's hand when the doctor reached down to make the first stitch followed by four more. As excruciating as the pain was, Kim making soft gentle strokes against the side of Robin's head distracted her somewhat. And once when Robin grunted as the needle slipped through her skin, Kim leaned down to kiss Robin on top of her head and that made the pain worth it somehow.
Once the doctor was finished and surveyed her work, she ordered a test to check their patient for a concussion. That got Robin's attention and she was about to protest when she heard Kim agree with the doctor's decision. "Robin, I'll wait right here till you get back. Okay?"
All the older woman could do as she looked up into very caring green eyes was to comply with Kim's wishes. "Okay."
Kim patiently waited with Michael and Sarah outside the emergency room. Phillip and Dunja watched the television quietly while they munched on their candy bars. Pietro had stopped by briefly while Kim was inside with Robin and informed Michael that Sandro was okay. As a matter of fact, Sandro was crying foul to the referees and trying to blame Robin for the smash up between the two. Michael assured his teammate he would call and let them know how Robin was doing once they got word of her prognosis. Pietro volunteered along with Ercan to go get Robin's car and drive it to her home.
When the doctor came out to talk with Kim, she rushed to her side. "How is she?"
"Other than her injured lip, she has a slight concussion and I'd like to keep her overnight."
"Okay." Kim mentally prepared to stay all night with her friend.
"However…. she's refusing." The doctor hesitated. "I'd feel better if she had someone to stay with her tonight."
"She can stay with us." Sarah offered.
"I'll get the paperwork ready."
Before the doctor turned to leave, Kim asked. "Can I see her now?"
Kim entered the emergency room and saw Margit standing outside a small patient's assessment room. "Is she…"
Pointing at the curtain, Margit said. "She's right in there." Speaking to Robin, the nurse said. "I'll be right back."
Slowly, Kim walked the short distance to her friend. She was reluctant to touch Robin since her friend looked so fragile. "Are you…. are you okay?"
A crooked smile crossed Robin's face. "Yeah… my lips a little sore and I got a hard head so I'll be okay."
"I was worried about you."
"I'm fine…. Margit's …. by the way she's Klaus' girlfriend." Robin started to explain when saw the confused look on Kim's face. "My boss at the movie theater."
"She's getting me something for the pain then I get to go home."
Lightly touching Robin's arm, Kim stepped even closer. "Sarah said you can stay with her tonight."
"Because of your concussion."
The pain in her lip made it hard for Robin to speak but she was prepared to protest. "I'm fine…. really."
When Margit came back in with the medicine, she frowned. "You're friend is right. The doctor won't let you go unless you have someone with you tonight." She watched Robin pop the pills into her mouth then gently suck on the straw and swallowed some water.
"I'll be okay. Besides, I don't want to be any trouble." Robin protested.
"You need someone to watch you tonight." The nurse stated adamantly. "Or the doctor won't release you."
"I'm used to taking care of myself." Robin argued.
Brushing the back of her hand against Robin's face, Kim said. "It's just for the night. Is it so bad that someone else wants to take care of you?"
This was so foreign to Robin and no one had showed this kind of concern since her mother. "I'd rather be home." Robin pouted.
"Alright then. I'll stay with you. I'll go tell Sarah."
After being fussed over for the last half hour, Robin was getting dizzy just from watching Kim. "Hey, would you sit down for a minute?"
"What?" Kim perched herself on the edge of Robin's bed. "Do you need something?"
"Yes." Robin grabbed Kim's hand when the young woman was just about ready to stand up. "I need you to sit here a minute and just rest."
Relaxing a bit, Kim complied. "Okay."
Robin held on to her friend's hand and Kim was not about to protest. The injured woman briefly closed her eyes, noting that the pain had eased quite substantially since she was now resting in her own bed. "Listen, Kim, you don't have to stay."
"Oh, yes, I do." Kim grasped Robin's hand tighter. "I said I would and I am. I've already called home and mom wanted to know how you were doing. I told her you seemed okay but she said I should keep you up all night and not let you sleep. And, of course, you have to stay home from work tomorrow. Oh, that reminds me I need to call Amanda…."
"Kim… hey, Kim?" Robin finally got the younger woman's attention. "Besides a bit of a headache lingering around… and my lip…. although the pain is much less now. I'm fine. Really?"
Kim placed her other hand over Robin's hand, which was holding hers. "Good."
"And I have to go to work tomorrow. Karin's off for a few days and we're going to be shorthanded as it is." Robin said a matter of factly.
"But the doctor said…"
"She said if I felt well enough in the morning, it would be okay." Robin smiled at her friend. "And you don't have to stay here all night."
"Oh, but I am and there's no more discussion on that matter."
Sighing, Robin agreed. "Okay. Let me help get a room ready for you."
When Robin started to get up, Kim pushed her back down on the bed. "Oh, no, you don't. I'll just get a cover and pillow and sleep here."
"On the floor…. just in case…."
"You can't sleep on the floor."
"Well, how can I be here to help you if I'm in the other room?"
"You can't sleep on the floor." Robin glared at the woman with eyes that brooked no argument.
"Then you'll just have to scoot over because I am not leaving this room." The young woman's green eyes flared in a no nonsense way that meant business.
Robin did as she was ordered, leaving plenty of room for Kim to slip in next to her. The expected uneasiness Robin knew would be there with someone else in her bed never arrived. As Kim settled herself in Robin's big bed, the tops of their legs brushed together. They both felt a connection that was calming, reassuring and somehow familiar.
"You're not supposed to go to sleep for at least another six hours so I thought I would tell you some of my stories." Kim yawned as she relaxed up against Robin. "Did I ever tell you about Hawk? She was always my hero… and everyone else, too." Kim regaled her patient for the next fifteen minutes before her words slurred into a sleepy state.
Watching the young woman out the side of her eyes, Robin saw Kim's eyelids flicker heavily until they succumbed to the long and tiresome day's events, falling to sleep easily. She smiled at Kim before she said, barely above a whisper. "I'm glad you're here to keep me awake."
It was a festive mood at the Old Brewery and the ten-year anniversary party was in full swing when Robin walked in with Sarah. "Too bad Michael didn't want to come tonight."
"Hey, this is our play night. It's his night to watch the kids. Besides his mom had something to do tonight." Sarah surveyed the crowd of people who were watching the band make their final preparations for the night's entertainment. "Why don't you get us something to drink and I'll get us a place to sit?"
"Okay." Robin headed off to the bar while Sarah secured their usual spot. "Thom?"
Nodding, Robin said. "Full house tonight."
Placing the bottles on the bar, Thom agreed. "Yep, this ones on the house." The bar owner enjoyed the brisk business he was doing tonight which would bring in lots of money; however, he preferred the easygoing atmosphere of his regular customers.
Grabbing the bottles, Robin negotiated her way through the crowd of people. There were quite a few people she had never seen before along with the regular Wednesday night pack which included several of her teammates. "Pietro. Ercan."
Clicking their beer bottles together, Robin's teammates yelled back at her. "Robin!" Their attention returned quickly to the tall lean woman setting up the microphone on the stage.
Robin paused briefly, watching the woman flip her long dark hair back several times before testing the microphone. Remembering her mission, Robin tore her eyes away from the makeshift stage and walked over to where Sarah was waiting. "Here you go."
"Thanks." Sarah took a quick sip of her beer. "Thought you said Kim was going to be here."
After settling back in the booth, Robin nodded. "She is… had to work late."
As if on cue, Kim entered the crowded pub. It was quite the contrast from the previous week when she was there. The noise level was louder and she heard the band tuning their instruments but none of that distracted her from finding the one person she came to see. Spotting Robin and Sarah in their usual booth, Kim hurried over to them. "Hi."
Scooting over so Kim could slide in the booth, Robin asked. "Can I get you anything?"
"A beer, I guess."
Before Robin could extract herself from the booth, Pietro had spied the auburn haired woman enter and followed her. "I'll get it." He was off before anyone could say a thing.
Over the din of the crowd, Kim practically had to yell. "The place sure is busy tonight."
While Sarah was up for the extra bit of excitement, suddenly Robin wished the whole party hadn't fallen on their play night. Their usual routine was disrupted and she doubted that they would have even been able to get in a good game of Shanghai. Then there was the quiet moments they spent talking and with the noisy crowd that was now out of the question. And there was plenty Robin wanted to talk about with Sarah. During the last two days, Kim practically lived at Robin's house, taking care of her. The young woman's invading presence was odd and comforting all at once. Robin was confused and in a rare decision, she had elected to share some of her feelings with Sarah. However, that, too, seemed out of the question now.
When Pietro returned with Kim's drink, he slipped in the booth next to the young woman. "Here you go, Kim."
"Thank you, Pietro." Kim said before taking a swallow of her drink.
He smiled then winked at her. "Will you promise me a dance later?"
Surprised, Kim nearly spit out her beer. Wiping her chin, she asked. "What?"
"They got a band tonight and I'm not going all night without one dance from you. Okay?"
"Ah…. sure, I guess so." Kim shrugged then looked from Sarah to Robin who sat eerily silent throughout the whole conversation.
"Cool." He stood up. "I'll catch you later."
"Wow." Sarah teased the younger woman. "I think he's got a thing for you."
"I doubt that Sarah. He probably just likes to dance." Kim nervously started to peel at the bottle's label.
Nudging her friend, Sarah asked. "What do you think Robin?"
"How would I know?" Robin dismissed her friend's observation. Her brown eyes tracked Pietro as he made his way around the bar. The young man stopped several times to talk with both men and women before perching himself up on a barstool. Absent-mindedly, Robin lifted her bottle to her lips and bumped it hard against her bottom lip. "Ouch… darn it."
"Are you okay?" Kim asked, reaching up to check the stitches on her friend's lip.
Robin pushed Kim's hand away. "I'm fine. Just forgot about my lip." For the last two days, Robin had to be careful when she drank or ate anything due to the five stitches in her bottom lip. She briefly thought about changing her drink to beer, thinking it might help numb the pain.
"She's not been a very good patient, has she?" Sarah nodded toward Robin who sat between them.
"Yes and…. no." Kim agreed to a certain extent. "She doesn't complain much at all but she won't let me help her that much either."
"Why don't you two talk about me as if I'm not even here?" Robin said sarcastically.
"Okay, we will." Sarah teased her.
But seeing the sour look on Robin's face, both Sarah and Kim remained silent, giving their friend a reprieve. It was then the sound of the drums beat loud and as the guitar player strummed away, the tall and lean singer belted out her first song of the night.
It wasn't long for Pietro to stake his claim on Kim for a dance. The music was fast and furious as the reluctant Kim joined the tall blonde muscular man on the dance floor.
As Sarah watched the frenzy of dancers gyrate to the music, she wished Michael had joined them tonight. Bumping Robin, the redhead figured it wouldn't hurt to ask. "Wanna dance?"
It even surprised Robin when she immediately said. "Yes."
In no time at all, they were in the midst of the crowd, swaying carelessly to the music. The heavy beat of the drums and the sultry voice of the lead singer offered a hypnotic trance for anyone who wished to fall under its spell. When one fast song led right into another, Robin and Sarah remained on the dance floor while Kim made her excuse to Pietro.
He quickly found another partner as Kim reclaimed her seat. Taking a long swig of her beer, Kim fell back against the booth and watched Robin as she danced with Sarah. The rhythmic sway of the taller woman's hips mesmerized the young woman. Green eyes surveyed the length of Robin's tall body and soaked in every curve and lascivious movement. God, she's so sexy. Kim downed the last of her beer and let the hard hitting pounding of the music carry her away from her usual inhibitions.
Kim fell under a hazy spell as she listened to the music. With her green eyes stapled to Robin's sexy form, Kim mouthed the lyrics of the song 'Just a Little'. Sexy, everything about you is so sexy. You gotta learn to let go. Robin spun around, facing Kim but had her eyes closed as she continued to dance. Just a little bit… give me just a little bit more. I'll do anything if you just let me. Kim's own body now swayed to the music, mimicking Robin. Gotta find a way to make you smile, I know you wanna break down those walls. And it's so challenging, getting close to you is what I'm imaging.
Unconsciously, Kim rose and stepped forward. You gotta let it all out. Baby, won't you work just a little, hot just a little, meet in the middle, give just a little bit more. When Robin ran her hand down along her side and over her hip as she danced, Kim licked her lips then continued mouthing the words to the song. It's so exciting the way you're inviting me. Can't get enough, won't you satisfy my needs. It took a moment once the song ended for Kim to shake loose from the sexual haze that had been cast over her at the sight of Robin dancing.
When the next song started and neither Sarah nor Robin appeared to be leaving the dance floor, a determined Kim strode across the floor. In a daze, Kim made a beeline for the couple and when she approached them, Sarah noticed her first.
The redhead watched Kim stand stock still as Robin twisted and turned around without realizing the young woman was next to them. Sarah tapped Kim on the shoulder bringing her temporarily out of her haze. Leaning close, she said. "Why don't you take over? I need to sit for a bit."
Kim didn't even realize Sarah had left them alone. Her eyes were glued to Robin and her heart thumped up against her chest. When Robin turned back around, she smiled upon seeing Kim standing there. Happy to see Pietro was nowhere in sight, the taller woman grabbed Kim's hand and yanked. "Come on… let's dance."
As their bodies moved to the beat of the music, Robin and Kim intermittently brushed up against each other with each pass of an arm or a leg. Perspiration glistened on their foreheads in a delicious glaze. Lost in the moment, Robin twisted Kim around and pressed her body close to the young woman's back. Together their bodies and the music became one and for that moment in time, no one else existed as the music ended only for the band to immediately break into a slow song. Kim swung around and before Robin could move, she slung her arms around the taller woman's neck.
Sucking in a swift intake of air, Robin settled easily, enclosing her own arms around Kim's small waist. Staring into each other's eyes, they simply smiled at each other. As if under a spell, both women moved to the slower beat completely oblivious of the surrounding dance partners. Drowning in a green pool, Robin involuntarily opened the draw gate to her heart ever so slightly.
The next words were spoken before she even knew they left her lips. "God, Robin, you are so damn sexy."
Shocked back to the present moment, Robin stiffened. "I… what….you can't be talking about me." She blushed at the compliment, turning her head away.
Kim hooked Robin's chin to bring her face back around. "Don't take this wrong…." Kim chose her next words carefully. "… but you're a bit innocent."
Again, a confused Robin tried to move her head away, not knowing what to do against the onslaught of complimentary and unexpected words from her friend. Robin was sensitive about her lack of experience and didn't know if Kim's reference to being innocent was meant as an insult or teasing.
"Robin?" The taller woman shyly returned her dark brown eyes to meet Kim. "Believe me… it's a compliment."
Relieved, Robin offered her dancing partner a tight smile. "Thank…. you." It was still very hard for Robin to equate such words as 'sexy' to herself and it made her very self-conscious. But deep down she knew Kim would not be so cavalier with her words and would never hurt her intentionally. Grateful for having such a wonderful friend, Robin felt compelled and ducked down to kiss Kim on the cheek. "Thank you."
A thrill shot through the young woman's body as Robin's lips touched her skin. Kim stepped in closer, wishing for the moment to never end and she basked in the warm feeling of Robin's nearness. Kim's eyes automatically closed and she tilted her head up in hopes of sharing a much more intimate kiss.
Robin gazed at the young woman in her arms and she questioned what she would have done next if it weren't for someone persistently yanking at her shirt. Turning around abruptly, Robin yelled. "What?"
"You making time with my girl?" Sandro sneered.
Sighing, Robin mumbled. "I don't need this."
Unglued at the sound of Sandro's voice, Kim groaned. "Great." Her head fell to lean against Robin's strong back. "Just great."
Reaching around the imposing woman, Sandro tried to get a hold of Kim. "Out of my way."
Robin sidestepped in front of him, preventing Sandro from touching Kim. Robin jacked one hand on his chest as the other one reached behind her to keep Kim safe. "Just back off, Sandro. There's no need to do this here."
"What are you fucking afraid of?" Sandro challenged her.
Pietro pushed his way through the crowd. "You need any help, Robin?"
"No…. " Glaring at Sandro, Robin said sternly. "There's not going to be any trouble here."
A Mexican standoff between the two ensued until Thom intervened. "Come on everybody… the drinks are on the house."
While the rest of the crowd cheered and most of them lined up at the bar, Sandro continued to glare at Robin but directed his next whispered words to Kim. "Do you mind if I talked with you for a moment… privately?"
Robin was unwilling to let that happen but she knew it was Kim's decision. Sliding her arm back as she turned slightly, Robin placed a hand on the shorter woman's shoulder. Her raised eyebrows asked the unspoken question.
Hesitant, Kim remembered the promise she made her mother about talking with Sandro and in the end it was his pleading brown eyes that swayed her. "Wait outside… I'll be there in a moment." Kim remained half shielded by Robin.
Knowing that his friends Sebastian and Benno stood directly behind him, Sandro didn't want to show a sign of weakness so he leaned forward and gave Kim a quick peck on the cheek. "Sure, babe, I'll be outside."
It took all of Robin's strength not to belt the over obnoxious guy but her concern was squarely focused on her friend. Turning around, Robin placed both her hands on Kim's arms. "Are you sure about this? You want me to go with you?"
The anxious woman wanted to melt into Robin's arms right then and there yet she steadied herself even as she had this sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. "No. I…. I'll be okay."
Still gripping Kim's arms, a frantic Robin rushed out her next words demanding some kind of assurances. "Promise me before you do anything… or say anything that we'll talk first."
Not quite sure what Robin was getting at, Kim quickly agreed. "Okay. I'm just going to hear him out….. nothing's changed."
Relief upon hearing Kim's words washed over the concerned woman. "I'll be right here if you need me."
Kim stood on her tiptoes to hug Robin before she headed out the door for the long awaited talk with her ex-boyfriend.
The tall blonde nudged Robin. "I think I'll go around out the back and keep an eye on her."
Stopping her teammate, Robin grabbed his arm. "No, Pietro… she'll take care of it in her own way." The worried woman shrugged off the invading nervousness nagging at her. Never before had Robin ever felt such tension as she waited for the confrontation between Kim and Sandro to end. Turning to her friend, she spoke barely above a whisper. "I shouldn't have let her go."
Grabbing Robin's arm, Sarah drew her back to their booth. "Sit down." Then turning to the tall blonde, she ordered. "Pietro. Get us a couple of beers." Soothing Robin's arm with long strokes of her hand, Sarah leaned up against her friend. "It's times like these that you have to have faith….. have trust in the ones you love."
Hardly hearing the redhead's words, Robin felt she was on the precipice of losing something and the last time she felt like this was when her parents died. She didn't understand the feelings welling up inside. All she knew was that her innards were being twisted into knots and she had this sick sinking feeling in her stomach.
Concluded in Part 3
This is copyrighted material, © 2003 Binkley and Freudenmann…all rights reserved. It may be reproduced, duplicated or printed for personal use only. For all other uses, please contact email@example.com