Author: Shawn30 PM
Chapter 2. Aisha's visit creates an emotional impact as a secret past relationship is revealed. Casey takes a special interest in Kim, while Tommy turns up the heat on her.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Humor - Kim H. & Tommy O. - Chapters: 2 - Words: 30,531 - Reviews: 40 - Favs: 28 - Follows: 45 - Updated: 02-24-13 - Published: 09-17-12 - id: 8533388
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: "Something Special"
Written by: Shawn
Summary: Aisha's visit creates an emotional impact as a secret past relationship is revealed. Casey takes a special interest in Kim, while Tommy turns up the heat on her.
Category: Drama/Romance/Humor Rating: Rated M Ship: Tommy/Kim, mentions of others.
Timeline/Spoilers: Everything up to and Including Dino Thunder is canon- Everything after is my own AU
Authors Notes 1: This will be a funny, sexy, romantic journey for our fav two Rangers. Other former Rangers will appear as well.
Authors Notes 2: I'm fudging the canon time-line a little bit with respect to the characters ages. Let's just fan-wink that they're all in that 28-32 range, OK *wink*
Authors Notes 3: Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the reviews and thoughts. They were well received and greatly appreciated.
Authors Notes 3: Sorry for the super long wait. Hope a super long chapter makes up for it :)
"If I Loved You"
If I loved you, time and again I would try to say, all I'd want you to know.
If I loved you, words wouldn't come in an easy way, round in circles I'd go.
Longing to tell you, but afraid and shy, I'd let my golden chances pass me by.
Soon you'd leave me, off you would go in the mist of day Never, never to know. How I loved you, if I loved you.
~~ Rogers and Hammerstein "Carousel"
Hilton Santa Monica
V.I.P Suite Room 1001
Thursday, November 1, 2012 10:30 PM
Santa Monica, Ca
As the warm waters cascaded down her lithe figure, Jayne was thankful that long ago she'd learned how to effectively detach her soul from her body. Lest it become as corrupt as those that used her for pleasure.
What she did for a living was to enjoy a life ahead of just making ends meet and paying the bills. When she was growing up she could never stand being ordinary, no matter the personal cost. Money ruled this world in her estimation, so she intended to rule it by any means necessary. She wouldn't be able to afford her powder blue Porsche 911 working at Wallmart no matter the dark emptiness she felt after leaving each client.
But she never took it home with her.
The showers steaming-hot spray washed away the sweat and sin as she stood with her head bowed, eyes shut tight, thankful she couldn't see the bruises that darkened her hips and neck. It was bad enough that she felt them, raw and swollen, as she stood there the hot waters. A constant reminder she was bought and paid for a time. Her long dark hair slicked to her back and shoulders as she willed away the soreness she felt all over. And the shame inside.
He was particularly rough tonight. Much more so than usual. As if on edge. Borderline angry, out for domination rather than gratification. Over the last five months he'd always been aggressive, but never like he was tonight. Her normal distaste for the worlds oldest profession was made even worse with the way he used her tonight.
That, she felt was the perfect way to phrase it. He didn't fuck her. He used her. Hadn't said a word to her outside of Take off your clothes, ever since she arrived. He took out his frustration on her and then rolled off the bed to hop on his laptop at the desk.
She was a thing to be used, and then discarded. It was what he paid for, and she allowed.
His quiet dismissal wasn't unexpected. He'd found his release. She was a whore, after all. Dressing it up with the fancy title 'Escort' didn't change the fact that she had sex for money. She never expected candy, roses, or a night of dancing. But tonight she hadn't expected him to hurt her.
Drying off now, she stood in front of the bathroom mirror glaring at the dark purple bruises that colored her fair skin. Normally they would result in her 'date' getting a surprise visit from a couple of guys that worked for her company. But he was in that upper echelon of assholes. His money bought him anything he wanted, any way he wanted.
She was expected to accept that and would simply walk away. It was business, and no more than that.
Having made herself presentable and dressed, she exited the bathroom to grab her heels over by the bed.
"Your money is by your purse. See yourself out."
Jayne saw a stuffed white envelope on the bed. She counted two grand in crisp one hundred dollar bills. Exactly what they agreed upon. Her client sat shirtless with his back to her, lording over his laptop. From behind she wished she had a razor blade to slit his throat. Hopefully he wouldn't want her ever again. With her purse and cellphone in hand, she offered, "Goodnight, Gabriel."
He never replied as she slipped out of the bedroom, and then the suite. He couldn't have cared less.
Gabriel barely noted the click of the door closing behind her. Jayne was a decent-at-best late night distraction, but he desperately wanted Kimberly Hart. A hunger slowly simmering on obsession. And no one else would do. He promised himself that somehow, someday soon he would have her.
One way or another.
For the time being though, he worked at his desk going over his files on Ms. Hart. Her comings and goings for the last ten years. Everything from her family and friends, to where she banked, her medical history, and men she'd been romantically linked too.
Then his cell phone rang. Checking the Caller-ID, he instantly knew the caller. "Hello... Yes, I'm spending more time with her and I've been invited into her apartment... No, I haven't planted the listening devices yet... Her computer has some kind of firewall software I've never seen. I can't hack it... I know what we have access too. What I'm saying is whatever she uses, its better. Check into Cranston Solutions Software... She's smart, so she's not going to just confess everything she knows right away, and if I rush her she'll know something is up... I'm well aware of our time-frame, but I have to play this a certain way. I need her trust and I'm getting closer to getting it, but I can't push to hard... From those tapes we were given I m sure she has those account numbers somewhere. She told Cole they're her insurance policy in case anyone came after her, legally or otherwise. She's to damn smart to not have covered her ass... No, she doesn t have any storage lockers, safety deposit boxes, or safes. But wherever she has them, I'm willing to bet they are close by... Yes, I agree. I'm thinking of arranging a situation which will force her to need to trust me. But there's another player in the game... I want to know everything there is to know about Tommy Oliver. He's a student in her accounting class, so you can start there... Yes, and he's currently adopting a ten year old girl named Casey. I want all the information on that case. He's too close to Kim, and I don't like how they look at each other. He could be a problem... The priority is gaining access to her computer files right now... She's worth two hundred million dollars to me. And I'd kill her to get it!"
Kimberly Hart's apartment
1330 Felicity Parkway
Friday, November 2, 2012 2:50 AM
North Hollywood, Ca
OK, so her point could have been made a little differently.
Seated at her desk, Kimberly quietly enjoyed the seductive vision of Tommy's nude form lying asleep in her California King-sized bed, forever branding that long sought after image in her mind's eye. She fell in love with the strong, masculine outline of his hard body beneath her thin white sheets, her gaze lazily tracing his provocative physique with loving appraisal.
He was ferociously erotic to her as he slept peacefully on his chest, moonlight through her bedroom window caressing over him.
She followed the hypnotically gentle rise and fall of his breathing. So vital and alive she swore under her breath, surprised how badly she wanted him yet again after he'd already made love to her so passionately tonight.
Having donned his USC sweatshirt a moment ago, Kimberly pressed her hand to her face, grinning wildly as the last couple hours came back to her in a kaleidoscope of decadent memories.
Her class went well tonight, and she was more than a little pleased to note that all of her students were passing. But Tommy's predatory stare all night long left her as breathless as his kiss did last Saturday. Processing what she felt, past tense, versus what she was feeling in the present warred with her logic.
To put it simply, Tommy made her feel more than any man she'd ever been involved with. And when her class ended he hung around until the very last student left, pretending that he needed to talk with her about an extra credit assignment.
He locked the door, sealing them inside.
Rules be damned, they were against the back-wall kissing and grinding and clawing at each other. Moaning loudly, Kim nibbled his ear, gently biting at the lobe. She whispered in a husky, seductive tone, "Call your babysitter or whoever you need to and make arrangements. And then meet me at my place in one hour."
That was five hours ago. Four hours ago they made love for the first time on her living room floor in front of her 50'inch wall mounted flat-screen TV. Shared rug burns aside, it was so damn good they didn't even remove all their clothes.
Three hours ago, their second time drug the sheets off half the side of her bed. Knocked pillows asunder. Shoved her alarm clock sideways. Peppered the egg-white paint behind the headboard into tiny cracks. Probably woke up the neighbors.
Kim blushed at the memory as she sat there in the dark, her legs crossed, pondering the meaning of it all.
Being here with him felt so carefree and untamed, as if there were no boundaries or fears between them. The sense of ease she always felt in his presence was glorious. Even as she reveled in the obvious lust he held for her.
But lust wasn't enough anymore. Ever since crossing that threshold of thirty, she'd begun to think long-term when it came to relationships. It wasn't enough anymore that the guy was hot or sexy. She'd never been one for the one night stand. To dangerous these days anyway.
And great sex, while wonderful, didn't make her world go round. She wanted more now. She wanted to start planning something... something real and lasting and mature and... something that didn't waste her time. Something that made her feel alive and vital and... she wanted to be head over heels in love with someone who felt the same way about her.
Someone who wanted to be with her Friday night, Saturday morning, and Sunday afternoon. Someone who made her want to cook for him, even though she wasn't all that good at it. Someone who when he held her, made her feel like she was all that mattered in the world. Someone who would sit on the couch with her and watch bad Lifetime channel movies and just that made them happy. Someone who was good with and loved children.
And if he had a bad memory, oh well.
"Kim, you are in so much trouble," she quietly noted under her breath, a reflective smirk dancing along the corner of her mouth as she recalled how hungrily he returned her sudden kiss tonight. A storm of passion roared between them with no declarations of love or commitment, only the frantic discarding of their clothes at such a frantic pace that by the time they reached her bed he was already inside her, riding her on his upper thighs before they fell over the covers.
She'd fantasized about him for most of her adult life in every romantically sweet and politically incorrect way a woman could mentally fuck the man of her dreams. Five years ago and tonight, how amazing it was to have her hopes fulfilled beyond her wildest expectations as they gave into some force so powerful it was primal.
No other word accurately described tonight. No other word could.
Her black Victoria's Secret bra, his Hanes white t-shirt, and twin pairs of Nike socks trailed from the door across the room to her bed. A charm bracelet and a watch were tossed aside on the floor. Half the white sheets were still hanging off the side of the mattress, with the other half tangled around Tommy's leg. All but one of the pillows were discarded on the floor. And pridefully speaking, she's shocked her neighbors hadn't called the police with how much noise they made.
Even now he could still hear them gasping and grunting and moaning each others names and how good it felt and that they were going to cum so damn hard!
Sheer insanity, that's what it was. What they were.
Shaking her head at the lunacy of it all, Kim knew that what she felt while making love to Tommy eclipsed anything she'd ever felt with anyone before. Not with Jack or Stephen had she felt so bonded to another human being.
"Why are you all the way over there?" came softly from the bed.
Kimberly peaked up from her inner thoughts, and then gave a little shrug from her desk chair. In a low timber, she replied, "Just thinking."
"And you can't think over here?"
She adored the light playfulness of his voice. Her voice tumbled quietly, "Not clearly, no."
Rising, the white sheets softly shifting off him, Tommy found a tiny smile for her. And though he wanted to think of something sarcastic to say, only truth laced his reply. "You affect me too. Always."
That's what she was afraid of, even as she was grateful the feeling was mutual. "Did we really have sex?" Kim asked as if she could scarcely believe it.
"Either that or this was the best shared dream two people have ever had in the history of mankind."
Yawning fully awake, she enjoyed the pale blue blades of moonlight lit from the window over his chiseled chest and toned abs. The man was masculine hard everywhere, and just delicious to gaze at. That his heart was so precious only sealed his appeal. Here she was now in her thirties, years and relationships removed from this man. Yet she was still smitten by him. "So are you about to pledge your undying love to me," she snickered, brushing her hair off the side of her neck.
"I will always love you," he declared without any shyness. When she cutely ducked her head he watched her wiggle her toes. Just that little thing she did curled around his heart. "I can't believe how small your feet are."
Her right leg lifted just so teasingly. She rolled her ankle in mid-air, appraising it. "They get me where I need to go. And they're still attached." She found his heated stare on her smooth, toned legs. The attention flattered her. Earlier tonight he'd kissed a sensual path from the back of her knee to the center of her womanhood, driving her to the madness of ecstasy. The phantom sensation came back to her in a subtle shiver. "I think I'm in love with your tongue."
"I think I'm in love with yours," he exhaled as they shared a private grin. "So do we need to have a long talk or is that even necessary?"
"What we did tonight," Kimberly teased as she rose to her feet, loving the soft brush of her beige bedroom carpet on her bare toes. "I know what it means, but then again, I don't."
Sitting up straight, Tommy looked her directly in the eyes. With no hesitation, he declared, "I m in love with you and I want us back together for good. I'm not looking for a lover or a girlfriend. I m looking for a wife. And only you will do."
His words buried her fears. That he was so bold and sure of where he stood and what he wanted, she felt as if a weight were lifted. Her bright smile lit up the night as she began walking toward her bed. But before she reached it she began to hear ringing... incessant ringing that continued on and on as things turned foggy, and then.
Gasping loudly, Kim sat up straight in bed, eyes wide awake! Glaring with pure venom at her Iphone-5 ringing until it seemed to stop out of fear of her. Crap, it as all a dream. "Damn, DAMN, DAMN!" she shouted to her ceiling.
Reaching for the evil device on the nightstand, she suddenly stopped herself, mindful of what she could accidentally do with her super strength when she was frustrated. Taking a deep breath, she calmly grabbed the phone. She didn't recognize the number, figuring the caller to have made a mistake in calling her. "Stupid wrong number messing up my sexy Tommy dream!"
Groaning, she wanted to slam her phone into the wall, but the sad fate of her Iphone 4 and Iphone 4-S came to mind. Having poured out a little Diet Pepsi for her dearly departed cell phones, she just had to stop killing her devices.
You'd think a super power would be cool, but oh no. Kimberly Hart was the Texas Chainsaw Massacre of hand-held devices. She had nine Universal Remote controls in a small drawer for a reason. She used an external keyboard for her fifth laptop in two years for a reason. She used plastic cups at home for a reason. One side of her bed sat on five large accounting books from college for a reason. And not a had-the-worlds-best-night-in-bed sort of reason.
Nope, she slammed her fist into the side of her mattress while watching a CNN expose on her former employer, a banking firm in Miami.
Most of the time if she was patient and mindful, she wouldn't break anything. She could text with her phone and press small buttons and drive without tearing her steering wheel off. She didn't smite all devices if she was careful. But when she was mad or frustrated that's when the crazy usually came out of her. Trini often called her 'Kim-Hulk' and changed her ring-tone to the sad theme from the old Incredible Hulk TV show when Bruce Banner walked alone down that lonely road.
And an infamous vibrator incident was something she chose to tuck away in the back closet of her mind. A small, dark closet with fellow skeletons like her two-day 6th grade crush on Jason, kissing a picture of Tommy the night after their first kiss, and dragging Jan Sanders Nissan Maxima sideways over three handicapped parking spots and then called the police all because she broke Rocky's heart a year ago.
After 'Operation Girls Night Out' as Trini coined their mission one year ago, an unexpected side-effect from Dulcia's mystical artifact left her with what was supposed to be temporary super strength. Every one of the girls received a short-term power to help with the mission.
Everyone but her lost their powers when it was over. But there was a little situation with her and...
All because of a super-secret mission featuring eleven ex-female Rangers she went on and eventually ended up leading. A mission that would not have only been deadly for the guys, but was mild payback for that 'Forever Red' B.S. the girls were left out of and still pissed about to this day.
"Forever my foot in all their asses," Kim snickered whenever she thought of it.
Dulcia recruited them to face Siren Sorceress, a long lost Eltarian who had the power to corrupt the minds of men. She intended to destroy half the galaxy resurrecting her evil God and had an army of the undead to help her. So the girls hopped a starship and for three days fought on two worlds for the fate of the galaxy. The mission wasn't easy or without lasting effects, but at least everyone made it out alive and the universe was safe.
And they didn't need one single male Ranger to do it.
"Girl Power," Kim smirked in bed, yawning as she looked to her alarm clock. It was so freaking late and she was now wide awake.
Trying to close her eyes, she thought of her dream and the man behind it. Tonight in class he was all business, and when the class ended he said goodbye and left. Obviously he was leaving the ball in her court, and she had to decide what to do with it.
What to do with him.
She wanted to throttle him for that kiss he planted on her. He ruined her night with Gabriel, who didn't get anything more than a cheek smooch when she was planning on taking him to Happy Town. She hadn't taken anyone there in a long time and... and all she could think about was being In Tommy's arms again,
Passion. Desire. Lust. They had that in spades. It just wasn't enough anymore. Problem was, when he looked at her she felt like he might be ready for more. And its one thing to want more. Its another to finally and truly accept someone who is willing to give it.
'Sex in the City' taught Kim that most men sucked unless they did exactly what you told them to do. 'The Office' told her to go for the quiet, sweet guy. But she could never imagine kissing Adam, and Tanya would stab her repeatedly if she tried. 'The Walking Dead' told Kim you could judge a man by his walk. Especially if it were a strange rocking side-to-side stumbling walk. That usually meant he was dead. 'Grey's Anatomy' taught her that no small space was to small to have sex in, and that it was okay to bone your students in a closet. But she wanted more than to bone Tommy. Yeah, she wanted that too. But more as well.
Alas, TV had failed her.
Thankfully Aisha was visiting tomorrow for dinner and some shopping. Her co-bestie could always make sense of her life and give her the swift kick in the backside she feared she needed.
Plus, Sha always had a unique perspective on Tommy.
Flashback 2 Years
Hilton Hotel Room 638
5711 West Century Boulevard
Sunday, June 7, 2010 2:45 AM
Los Angeles, Ca
There wasn't much in the world that Aisha Campbell hated more than staring up at the ceiling in bed, a victim of insomnia.
Four Long Island Iced Teas were supposed to have knocked her out for the night. Especially the way her cousin James, a professional bartender, made them. Alas, she couldn't fall asleep to save her life. And that was after a full day complete with a close relative's big wedding, equally huge reception, and open bar all night long. Nonetheless, she was still frustrated and wide awake.
The dark of her bedroom felt claustrophobic as she laid there, glaring at the oil paintings on the wall to her left. She wanted to be fast asleep, putting this day to rest. Unfortunately, time seemed to slow to a frustrating crawl as she wasn't sleepy in the least.
Aisha felt wired, though still a bit tipsy. Maybe a little bored. Maybe a little lonely. Maybe a lot lonely if she were brutally honest with herself. She could only hear so many times from relatives "Why don't you have a boyfriend, Aisha?" or "When are you getting married, Aisha?" which pissed her off more cause if she had the former she could get to the latter eventually.
Of course a few teasing remarks by a couple of her cousins that she was now down with the "Swirl" do to bringing a white guy to a mostly African-American wedding didn't help either. Not that she minded at all. She had nothing at all against interracial couples. But having turned twenty-nine recently, and with a number of the girls her age at the wedding either married or engaged, she felt she must be some kind of relationship poison or something.
Her last three serious boyfriend's since returning to the states seven years ago were a collection of bad endings. Will cheated on her with a supposed good friend. Jayden broke things off because he couldn't commit, unless by committing he meant committing to sleeping with people other than his significant other. He did commit to that. And then Tony confessed that he thought he was gay. At first she thought that one was a joke, but his painful admission that dating her led to his realization may have been a life-altering moment for him. But for her, it was pretty damn crushing.
As always, Jack, Ben, and Jerry were the only men who never disappointed a girl. And Mr. Daniels was really a good pal after the Tony situation.
Okay, so she was a bit brash. A bit blunt. A bit outspoken and bold and she expected a man to act like a man and not a damn child. But why oh why did it seem like everyone could get love right but her? If she didn't have bad luck in love, she'd have none at all.
Apparently that extended to single dates as well. Her actual set-date for the wedding, John, got called out of town at the last minute for a family emergency. Her two back-ups both said it was two last minute for them to accompany her. Rocky, Jason, and Adam were all out of town. Zack was out of the country. Billy was out of this world, literally.
No way she was going alone.
That left her dear old pal, Dr. Tommy Oliver. He was her final option, but luckily, he came through for her like a champ. Despite everything going on in his own life, he made time for her at the last minute. Of course when she took him out on the dance floor it made for hilarity as the former White Ranger had two left feet. He possessed not an ounce of rhythm. But he was sweet about it, and she ended up having fun with him at every turn.
Maybe it was the drinks. Maybe it was the good music, or the happy occasion. Whatever it ultimately was, at the end of the evening she was more than a little happy he was by her side.
Speaking of that free open bar, since they left the festivities late she didn't want him driving home anymore than he did. Since Casey was at his parents house, she offered the pull-out couch in her hotel room for the night. He gratefully accepted. Considering the Sahara Desert-like state of her current romantic landscape, some girls might wonder why in the hell a super hot, sweet, slightly drunk single guy was asleep alone just a few feet away when you re mired in the worst... ahem, physical drought of your life. Sure, she missed having someone in her life, both romantically and sexually.
But this was Tommy.
Shaking her head in bed, Aisha couldn't fathom seeing her lovable former leader as anything other than a dear friend who once wore a pony tail and forgot his middle name. Couple that with in a certain part of her brain he still came with a 'Property of Kimberly Ann Hart' seal no matter what happened between them. As far as Tommy was concerned, personality wise they were oil and water. Had different tastes in almost every category.
The quiet brooder annoyed her, while she knew not all guys appreciated a girl that said exactly what was on her mind minus any censorship. And his forgetfulness would have made her choke him long ago.
Certainly not her type. Not that she was his either. But she loved him nonetheless.
Her handsome, safe, guy-pal.
Having laid in bed long enough, Aisha figured a late night workout might do the trick. No one else was up, so she'd have the gym all to herself. She could throw on some tunes, hit the treadmill, and zone out until she was exhausted.
Slowly opening her bedroom door, she tried to walk softly past a lightly snoring Tommy. He'd been tossing and turning as the covers barely covered his bare waist.
The erotic vision before her paused her steps. While she was only his good friend, Aisha was still a grown woman who could appreciate a nice body. Problem was, he didn't just have a nice body. He had the kind of body meant for a woman to work out on all night long. A hard, muscular physique that she openly took her time drinking in a way she'd never looked at him before.
Wow, Aisha Campbell was openly checking out Tommy Oliver. She shivered from the weirdness of it all.
"See something you like?"
Aisha felt like she was ten years old and had been caught with her hands in the cookie jar. "Boy, shut up," she laughed at him, walking toward the bed. On her way she flipped on the lights to a dim glow, craning her neck sideways. Had she ever felt so restless? "I think I'm gonna go for a workout. I can't sleep."
Sitting up in bed, Tommy yawned while stretching his legs. "Anything wrong?"
Aisha shrugged. "I'm wired I guess. I can't get comfortable enough to fall asleep. And what sucks most is I don't know why."
Shockingly to him, the sight of her spiked his pulse to the point he had to do a double-take. Those tight little shorts she was wearing caught him off guard, showing off quite a curvy figure. Damn... He had to shake his head clear of just how hot she looked. He swallowed hard in the back of his throat. This was Aisha. What in the world was he thinking? "Talk to me. What's on your mind?"
Maybe unloading would help her. Its been a while since she felt like she wasn't buried by life. Pacing in front of his bed, the words came easier than she imagined. "The life of a veterinarian isn't so exciting."
"You don't say," Tommy noted as he scooted towards the edge of the bed. He tried not following her great ass as she walked back and forth, but a man was a man. And she was in amazing shape. It was so strange looking at her like she was a girl, even though she was a... well, she was all woman and he couldn't help but to notice. "I'm all ears."
"I'm bored out of my mind with life," she laughed in spite of the tug at her heart. "My job is great. The pay is better than alot of people are doing these days. The work means something to me. But I still feel like I'm missing out on something. Like there's this big secret everyone in the world knows but me. I feel like I'm being left behind and I don't know why."
"Everyone feels like they're in a rut sometimes, Sha," Tommy related, glancing away in an attempt to stop staring at her thin slip of a night shirt. Focus, Oliver! "Maybe you need a vacation?"
"Not really. Works not that bad. My family aren't driving me nuts."
"No new boy toys?" he smiled.
"Present company excluded?"
"Sha, I don't possess the skills to banter with you."
He didn't, but she was happy he was here just the same. "No, I haven't met anyone special in a long time. And it feels like the old gang is moving further and further away, getting on with their own lives. I feel like I'm stuck in the mud for some reason."
To a degree Tommy could relate. Zack being overseas now. Haley in D.C. doing research. Jason and Kat in New York with their son. Kim... "I know how that feels."
Not surrendering to this down mood, Aisha considered, "Maybe I'm just lonely and horny," she boldly declared, and then giggled at the shocked expression he wore. "It's been nine long months of me and a whole lot of Double-A batteries."
Wincing, Tommy shook his head. "T.M.I"
"Yeah, right," she smirked, having caught his eyes on her already tonight. So, he liked what he saw too. Crazy! Her amusement soon vanished. "Thank you for coming with me to the wedding. I know it had to be a little different for you."
"Hey, I like black people," he tried to joke, and earned a smile from her. But soon his expression turned serious. "Thanks for giving me a day away from all my stuff."
She'd almost forgotten he had his own life, and suddenly felt guilty. "Go ahead. Spill."
Scratching an itch at the back of his neck, Tommy sighed. "Casey's mom disappeared from a drug rehab clinic again." His anger was easy to see. So was his resolve. "She won't fight for herself or her daughter. And as badly as I want to adopt Casey, I want her mother to get better and be a part of her life. I would never take that from her. I know what it would of meant to me to have even known one of my birth parents. But her addiction has such a strong hold on her."
Such a sad tale. "What was she abusing?"
"Crystal Meth." Aisha's face fell, as did his mood. "Its so ugly you don't even want to know."
"Oh, I already do," she replied. "The sister of a good friend of mine in college over dosed on it. That stuff is rock bottom. I'm not sure there's anything worse."
Tommy nodded. "I know she's not my concern, but..."
"Are you worried she might try to forcibly take Casey back?"
"No," he shook his head as if the mere thought was inconceivable. "When she's on a drug binge we'd be lucky if the police found her sleeping in a park. She has little to no interest in being a parent. She only has the very base love of her child. I'm just happy Casey is to young to understand what's going on. But one day its gonna break her heart. Until then I'm going to make sure she has the best life."
"You're such a good man for fighting for her," Aisha complimented him as they seemed to draw closer somehow.
"It's tough, you know. Being a single guy with a struggling business. The adoption process is long, expensive, and not even all that fair. Its a uphill fight every day, Sha."
He looked as weary and lost as she felt. His eyes spoke to her in a way she understood all to well. He was searching for something too. Something elusive. Tension began choking the air around them. "Yeah, but it'll be worth it someday."
"Just like when you find the right guy that will sweep you off your feet."
Aisha knew she'd taken leave of her senses when he stretched and her body felt it. She dropped her gaze, sensing this new growing tension between them that had never been there before. "I don't suppose you have a G.P.S. to his location?"
Rising to his full height, Tommy smiled, his eyes falling over her again. "You deserve someone wonderful."
That was sweet. So was he. And suddenly he seemed to close. She could feel his warmth. Her body turned traitor, the slight tremble of her voice evidence enough. "So do you."
"Hey, I just went to a wedding with the most gorgeous woman that was there. I'd say I won today."
"When did you become a smooth talker?"
Tommy rolled his eyes, all the while admiring the allure of her. "I'm not. That's the best line I got."
His invasion of her personal space scrambled her thoughts. In a softer than expected tone, she exhaled, "You looked good in your suit."
"You looked better in that dress."
There wasn't a soul alive that didn't sometimes need a light through the darkness. A brief stay from the soul-sucking day-to-day burdens we all faced in life. Sometimes there was no plausible explanation why two people connected. No real way to explain it. Why now when never before? Maybe that was why strangers could fall in love so easily.
You can't put life in a box. Can't predict every encounter you will have, or be prepared for the surprises that can arise out of nowhere.
Like when Aisha shoved Tommy back down onto his bed, sliding over his body. Or when he rolled her onto her back and kissed her so deeply she purred like a well stroked kitten. Or how hotly they fit together that first hurried, frantic time when they didn't want to think for fear they would stop. Or that loud, energetic second time in her bed that left them dripping in sweat. Or that two people who had honestly never had one sexual thought about each other before ended up making love for the rest of the night.
Life was funny that way. Always full of surprises.
End of Flashback
Premier seafood restaurant
741 Ryan Dr
Friday, November 2, 2012 7:30 PM
Los Angeles, Ca
"Sha, you need to relax," Kim gently ordered before savoring her Long Island Iced Tea. The former Yellow Ranger had been great fun shopping and catching up with all day, but seemed a bit anxious tonight over dinner. That wasn't like her. "We took a cab here and the tab is on me, so drink away."
Indulging in her Cranberry vodka, Aisha hoped it would calm her nerves a bit. Shopping had been fun and just being with her best friend again was kick-ass. But tonight's dinner came with a revelation she wasn't sure how it was going to go over. Apparently she needed more liquid courage. "Girl, I'm alright. Just thinking I guess."
"Thinking about Anthony again?" Kim teased playfully while greatly enjoying Aisha's obvious attempt to not act as if she weren't head over heels in love with her new boyfriend of the last six months.
"I'm... he's fine." Her Crab legs were to die for, but Kim wasn't going to let her get away with just saying that. And though she did miss the handsome fireman that had swept her off her feet, he wasn't on her mind at the moment. "Can you please stop staring daggers into me."
"Hey, at least one of us has her love life figured out, so I'm living vicariously through you."
Seated at one of the twelve beige booths, Aisha considered that claim and the opening it offered. She quickly seized upon it. "You know, I had lunch with Tommy yesterday."
Kim all but rolled her eyes. "Yes, you have mentioned that no less than five times today."
"Well your name did pop up once or twice," Aisha dared to prod, waiting for Kim to finally crack and want to know what was talked about. She just needed to dangle the right bait. "Tommy was pretty talkative."
Despite her friend playing Trick or Treat with her love life, Kim kept an aloof attitude. "He told me he's really comfortable with you."
Looking away briefly, Aisha bit back a reply by finishing her drink and then ordering another. "He's serious about you, Kim. You know he doesn't play games. He just wants a shot."
Over the rim of her glass, Kim wondered, "So you're his wing-man now?"
Biting her lip against a laugh, Aisha continued, "Kim, I just want to aid you in the unblocking of the cock-blocking you are doing to yourself."
Kim blinked, her reply a bit louder than she expected, "I am not cock-blocking myself!"
"Say that a little louder, I don't think the old couple behind us heard you." Kim's crimson blush was hilarious. "He's falling for you, and I know you well enough to know you're falling for him. Every time I mentioned him today I could see it in your eyes. So why not try? You can't tell me you are so into this Gabriel guy. You barely mentioned him once today."
Feeling cornered a bit, Kim defended, "... Gabriel isn't my boyfriend or anything. But we're dating. Just having fun. He doesn't complicate things."
"Are you falling in love with him?"
"No," Kim confessed on a sigh. No matter how charming Gabriel was, he hadn t touched her heart yet. Not like... "But he's fun and handsome and very patient. He fits my kinda-sorta crazy life these days. He accepts what I can and can't give right now."
"And Tommy doesn't?" Aisha challenged.
Peering around out of force of habit more than a real fear someone was spying on her, Kim quietly noted, "You know about my Miami drama and that little space trip we all took. I kinda brought back more than a Phadoes souvenir."
Aisha smiled, "Yes, Kim-Hulk. I know. I was there."
"I do not turn green."
Aisha laughed at that one. "Look, I'm on board for why we didn't tell the guys about 'Girls Night Out'. But the Miami stuff scares me, Kim," she noted seriously. "I know you can take care of yourself, but I think you should confide in Tommy about what went down."
Falling silent, Kim sincerely wanted to tell Tommy everything. More than a little bit, but was concerned about dragging him into her mess. He had so much on his plate already with Casey's adoption. "Sha, you just don't know how tough it is to have feelings for Tommy Oliver."
Riding a wave of liquid courage as it was now or never, Aisha set her drink aside and gave up the ghost. "Yes, Kim. I do."
Kim snickered while popping another shrimp in her mouth. "I'm not talking about a guy like Tommy. I mean the genuine article."
Deep breath time. Aisha looked her directly in the eyes, calm on the outside while nervous as hell on the inside. She dove into the deep end. "So do I."
As if the world suddenly stopped spinning, Kim's mind stuttered to a complete halt. She laughed as a shrimp angled from her fingertips, but the sound died as Aisha's expression and whole mood took on a very serious tone. There was a slight tremble in her voice when she asked, "What, are you saying you and Tommy were an item?"
Downing a good bit of her second Cranberry Vodka, Aisha settled in for a complex conversation that was two years in the making. "Neither of us planned it."
"Wait, this isn't a joke?!" Kim's eyes widened as she suddenly lost her appetite.
Aisha shook her head, pushing straight forward. "Two years ago I had my cousin Monyka's wedding to attend and my date flaked out on me. Then my second, third, and fourth options were all unavailable," she explained as Kim listened perfectly still. "Tommy stepped in and that night... I don't know, Kim. Something happened that was never planned."
Suddenly feeling sick to her stomach, Kim tried to remain calm as a storm of chaotic emotions fell over her. She just couldn't in any way wrap her mind around Aisha and Tommy. Not even in the least. "So he took you to the wedding, and..."
Aisha knew she was gonna need another drink and soon. Or a paramedic if Kim snapped on her. "And it was late after the wedding reception. We'd been drinking and I didn't want him to drive home, so he slept on the couch in my hotel room." Obviously there was more to the story and Kim's quiet revealed that the former Pink Ranger knew it. "I was having a hard time falling asleep, so I got up to go get a work out in at the hotel's gym. But Tommy woke up and we ended up talking about a lot of personal stuff. I don't know... we were both dealing with a lot of things and we unloaded on each other. And I think we were both lonely."
The painful truth Kim could scarcely find the courage to say was right there, written all over Aisha's face. The unbelievable truth. "You slept with him," came out as a statement rather than a question.
"Yes," was Aisha's soft reply. Her best friend swallowed hard while struggling to look at her. "We had never looked at each other that way before. No flirting or anything, ever. But that night was strange and we... I think we needed each other."
"So you had a one night stand? That's not like you." As Kim waited for a response, things became crystal clear after a long pause that she was was behind and only now catching up to what really happened. How could this have happened, and with her best-friend? Sha had never looked more uncomfortable. That made two of them. "So it wasn't just a one night stand?"
"We were together, quietly, for about three months," Aisha began as she wanted the whole story out there. There were girl-laws broken here, and mending those fences couldn't happen without total honesty. "We were very private and we did fall in love. But we ended as friends, and we were and are sure that's what is best for us. I don't have any residual feelings for him, and he is crazy about you. He loves you and only you."
Her heart ached as she tried so hard to not imagine them together, but tortured herself anyway. Friendship was one thing, but sexual intimacy... that they of all people were lovers for months... Kim fell silent at the table, working through another drink and her inner thoughts as she tried to process all of this.
Aisha was smart enough to keep her mouth shut and let Kim lead things from here on out. Eating wasn't an option until they reached some sort of... something. She wasn't sure. But with Kim so obviously into Tommy again she needed to know everything and why. If the shoe were on the other foot she knew she'd be as angry, hurt, pissed, and weirded out as Kim was. But no matter that they had to face this head on.
"Why tell me now? Why tell me at all?" Kim spat out angrily... sadly.
If Aisha lost Kim's friendship it would break her heart. She could only hope that wasn't the case. Subtle emotion laced her voice. "Because you and Tommy are so close to something special, and you're talking to me about it. You're sharing and being open and I'm sitting here with this secret. It just didn't feel right to me."
"And you couldn't have told your so-called best friend sooner?"
That stung, but was justified. "You were living your own life and dating off and on. Tommy and I, at the time were single and not cheating on anyone. Even after we broke up I just didn't think it mattered all that much. But here, now, talking to you about him, I just didn't feel right not telling you everything."
Battling the urge, Kim wanted to throw her drink in Aisha's face. But what would that accomplish. Her anger and jealousy and just the total ick factor of your best friend having had a three month sexual relationship with the only man you have ever truly lov... she would not cry! But she still wasn't sure how she felt. "Are you both sure you don't feel anything for each other anymore? No sparks at lunch yesterday?"
Aisha almost smiled. "No, nothing like that at all. He's a close, dear friend of mine and that is all he will ever be. I'm really happy with Anthony, and that man, Tommy, is yours. He is head over heels for you."
Kim wanted to beat him over the head with her heels. "Why didn't he tell me?"
"Cause I asked him a few weeks ago when he told me how he felt when he saw you again, that when I visited I wanted to be the one to tell you," Aisha replied. "I felt it should come from me. But he did want to tell you himself."
Kim didn't say a word as she thought things over, downing the rest of her drink in a long throat-burning pull. "I gotta be honest, Sha. I want to throw you through a wall."
Aisha smiled a little. "I figured as much."
"I can't stand the idea... I mean I know on a rational level it was two years ago, and Tommy and I weren't together, but..."
"You still want to throw me through a wall?"
"Yeah, like three of them that are covered in barb-wire and electrified."
Aisha sighed, but caught the smallest hint of amusement in Kim's eyes. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. That's on me. I wish I had."
Kim just had to ask. It was so much harder, and more painful than the sex part. Sex, great as it was, could be fleeting. But the love tended to endure, even if it changed over time. Love meant they had something special. "You really fell in love with him?"
A note of emotion accompanied Aisha's voice when she spoke. "Yeah, crazy as it was. But in the end we were more lonely than deeply in love. We were friends who shared a moment, and then realized we were far better off as friends. We never wanted to come out of the closet, so to speak. We didn't see or feel a real future together. The love faded back into a friendship. We both felt that way, and there hasn't been any slip-up if you know what I mean. We don't see each other that way anymore. The man I had lunch with yesterday is in love with the vivacious, amazing, gorgeous, talented..."
"Keep the compliments coming."
And there was a tiny smile. "Hot, awesomely dressed, best Pink Ranger ever."
"Best female Ranger ever?"
"You're really pushing it."
"And there's still a wall right behind you,"
"Yes, you are the best female Ranger ever," Aisha laughed wearing a smile. "I love you with all my heart, and I am so sorry I never told you sooner. I should have, in hindsight. I hope someday you can forgive me."
Kim knew the rational versus the emotional sides of what she was feeling. She also knew the character of her sister, and that shit happened in life. Love came and went. Sometimes like a fairy tale. Sometimes left you unfairly. Sometimes when you least expected it. Whomever you love, they had a life before you. And even in this weird case, it was 2012 and not when they were together two years ago. You had to live in the present. You didn't have any other choice.
"I slept with Adam, Billy, and Rocky," Kim dared to admit. "At the same time. It was awesome." As the waiter brought another round of drinks to the table, the girls couldn't help but to snicker at the young man's blush after he heard what Kim said. "I guess I'm a drunk slut tonight."
"I had a threesome with Tanya and Zack. We nicknamed it 'Blackout'."
"You drunk slut."
Aisha shrugged. "So, are we alright, Kim?"
"No." Exhaling deeply, Kim worked on her third drink. "But we will be in a little while, and after this drink and likely one more. Its a lot to take in, Sha. But it was two years ago and I have to keep that in perspective. I guess I just never realized how possessive I felt toward Tommy even when we weren't together. It's just something that hasn't gone away."
"It's because you love him, Pinkie."
"I hate it when you call me Pinkie."
"You really want to get thrown through a wall, don't you," Kim snickered.
Aisha could tell that even though she smiled, there was still a somberness in her eyes. In her tempered tone of voice. Things would be fine between then, eventually. But not necessarily tonight. Or even tomorrow night. But soon. They loved each other and that kind of sisterhood could withstand this.
As for Kim and Tommy, Aisha truly hoped this time if they found their way back to each other it would be forever. No matter how many times a cynical world screamed otherwise, she was sincerely rooting for their fairy tale to have a happy ending.
A week later
Kimberly Hart's apartment
1330 Felicity Parkway
Saturday, November 10, 2012 2:00 PM
North Hollywood, Ca
Feeling like this really, really sucked.
Gazing out her bedroom window at another gorgeous Southern California skyline, Kim felt bored and grumpy. Old as well. Yeah, she felt a bit old. Maybe a tiny bit lonely. And still mad. Yeah, mad was definitely a part of this too.
Having paid bills, caught up with her Mom, she even tried to watch some mindless 'Reality' TV in a last ditch effort to erase her bad mood that still hadn't gone away yet.
Betts and Claire, two new girlfriends who shared an apartment down the hall from her had wanted her to go on a shopping slash spying excursion on Bett's current boyfriend, who she feared was being less than faithful. And while shopping had always been a cure-all balm to whatever ailed the former Pink Ranger, the last week had left her not wanting to do much of anything at all.
"This is so stupid," Kim bitched out-loud to herself, yet another person she was angry with. It didn't make sense to her to be upset over something that happened two years ago between Tommy and Aisha. At the time she was dating someone in Miami and hadn't been mooning over her ex-high school boyfriend in the least.
But now just the thought of them together made her feel ill, never mind that their feelings were long gone. Maybe it had to do with some deep seeded sense of possessiveness she felt towards Tommy? Sure, Kat got his V-card, but never his heart the way she had. And that meant something to her.
Again she shook her head at the absurdity of it all. Seven straight days of losing sleep and brain cells while over-thinking past crap instead of working on present day crap. Two classes of pretty much ignoring Tommy, though to his credit he kept his distance and didn t push her.
She still wanted to run him over with her car.
Kim had finished off the last of her ice cream, and even her emergency carton two days ago. Trini had already allowed her a two hour rant session to get things off her chest, while her gal pals wanted her along for the ride today so she wouldn t be stuck in the house brooding. And there was always Gabriel, but he only got back into town last night from a stressful business trip to Florida.
Of course this was all about Tommy and Aisha. Or maybe just Tommy. Or maybe neither of them. Two years was a long damn time ago and both of them had moved on. You just couldn't live in the past. It wasn't healthy. It wasn't fair, but then again, not much in life was. Still, her frustration remained.
Kim wanted to strangle someone. She wanted to punch and kick and somehow mentally erase from her mind the knowledge that Aisha and Tommy had ever been together. She wanted to know the rationale behind her anger when deep down what happened two years ago just didn't matter in the present.
She trusted them both. Tommy didn't play games. He wouldn't even know how. And Aisha always shot from the hip.
So she needed to get over it too, and she knew it. It was the mature thing to do, after all. But it still hurt.
The sheer truth of the matter was that Tommy made her feel so much, so intensely, that it terrified her. Fairy-tale mushy high school love didn't usually turn into happily ever after. But somehow, someway her heart wanted him again.
Years ago at Angel Grove High things were so simple she could scarcely believe it upon looking back. Sure, there were the daily four o'clock afternoon Rita and Zedd battles, and the countless times she was attacked in Angel Grove Park by gibberish shouting, Grey-skinned idiots that she never called 911 or filed a police report over. Being a teenage superhero rocked, but all she could remember vividly was loving that handsome boy with the ponytail who called her 'Beautiful.'
Minus the alien invasions, cloning, being transferred into Billy's body, random items being turned into creatures, time-traveling, dimension jumping, planet hopping, dinosaur vehicle flying, Power Bow using, and huge robot operating, their romance had been pretty sweet and innocent.
Boy met Girl... and was turned evil, tried to kill her, but was saved and redeemed. Boy and Girl dated... kinda, sorta as there was that long period of not knowing exactly what they were. Then he lost his powers and left town for a bit. Boy returned to Girl... became new leader of the Power Rangers and her official make-out partner for well over a year as she finally learned that fries weren't the best thing the French ever gave America. Then Girl got the opportunity of a lifetime, left town, fell for 'THE BIG DUMB MISTAKE' and dumped the Boy with a poorly written Dear John letter.
Jesus, were they ever normal?
Smiling to herself at the memories, Kim left her window perch behind. Stretching comfortably as she walked out of her bedroom towards the kitchen. A nice, ice cold Peach wine cooler hit the spot as she toured her apartment just to clear her thoughts. Whatever was happening between her and Tommy, she knew she had to figure it out. He's the greatest mystery of her life, and she needed answers. The connection they shared felt stronger than it ever had before. There was something so genuine whenever they were together, and that was worth facing head on.
To put it bluntly, she missed him.
His smile, his kiss, his good heart, and his ability to drive her from a place of serene calm to raging madness in .5 seconds. She didn't like how he made her body feel, all hot and bothered and thinking of him even in the shower.
Shaking those naughty thoughts away, she finished her cold wine cooler, and then grabbed her cell phone. It was time to take the bull by the horns and fix this herself. It was time to get her answers.
Filing through her extensive contact list, she pressed 'Pain in my ass'.
A few seconds later, "Hello?"
"Hey." She could hear his smile, now softly causing her own. "We need to spend some time together."
One week later
The home of Tommy Oliver
221 Frank Drive
Saturday, November 17, 2012 6:00 PM
Los Angeles, Ca
Spying through the living-room curtain for any sign of her car, Kimberly's ferocious grip on Tommy's inner thoughts held firm.
Muttering a frustrated sigh, the former White Ranger stepped away from the window and went back to the kitchen. Staring at the street wasn't going to make her arrive any quicker and he knew it. He was on edge as it was, but knew he needed to relax.
Pacing the house for the last hour hadn't helped. But he just couldn't sit still.
After collecting paper plates and utensils he checked on the two extra large cheese, sausage, and pepperoni pizzas were delivered just ten minutes ago. Kim was do any second, and though tonight was supposed to be nothing more than a 'friendly' movie night with Casey, his heart wasn't pounding in his chest over seeing 'The Avengers' again.
Ever since she learned of his past liaison with Aisha, Kim had been clipped and impatient with him. He wasn't exactly surprised, and knew she needed time to process what she learned. If it had been anyone other than one of her very best friends in the world then this wouldn't have mattered. But if Kim told him she had sex with and fell in love with Jason two years prior and never told him, he knew he'd need some space to take all of that in.
Thankfully a week ago she reached out to him and expressed in no uncertain terms that they needed to spend some time together. Obviously Christmas Day had come early as far as he was concerned. But she wasn't talking about a quiet romantic dinner for two. She wanted to start simple, uncomplicated, and minus the possibility of sex. Hence tonight s movie date with Casey.
Just the fact that she wanted to start at all made his heart skip a beat.
Despite his lingering frustration over her having not acknowledged that searing kiss he gave her, no doubt derailed by the whole Sha thing, the chance to spend time with her was priceless. He'd take any opportunity offered to show her how good they could be together, and how badly he wanted her in his life. So if she wanted to go slow, then slow it was.
He would make a turtle look like the Millennium Falcon if that was what she needed.
Deep down he knew what Kim felt when he kissed her because he felt it too. It was all in her beautiful brown eyes. Passion like that wasn't something you could ignore. You couldn't just wish it away as it wasn't something you could deny yourself forever. He was sure Gabriel never made her feel that way, and never would if he had any say in the matter.
Tommy was in love with her and determined to win her heart.
For now though, he had to play the game by Kim's rules.
Fueled by youthful determination, genuine curiosity, and an over abundance of sugar from her Double-Stuffed Oreo cookies, the daughter of Tommy Oliver initiated her most daring plan to date.
"Good evening. My name is Casey Lynn Oliver. The Oliver part will be legal next year sometime when the adoption is done. Anyway, I am making this recording in the event I end up missing or if the world is attacked by aliens or if the zombie apocalypse happens," Casey calmly spoke into the kick-ass laptop her grandmother bought her for her birthday.
"My dad's ex-girlfriend from high school, Kimberly A. Hart, is more than likely a cyborg, mutant, alien experiment, gamma radiation survivor, abuser of human growth hormones, or possessor of some kind of wacky super power." Casey knocked back a sip of her Mountain Dew, her expression fortified with focus. "Excuse me, I was thirsty. OK, back to what I was saying. I witnessed with my own two eyes Kimberly lift up the side of her car with one hand, and hold it in place while she reached for her cell phone that fell beneath it. She wasn't struggling at all. I have perfect vision as I had a check-up only three weeks ago for school. I say no to drugs and I don't not drink anything stronger than root beer. I know what I saw."
Pacing before the laptop, the ten year-old detailed her scheme. "I don't believe Kim is dangerous, but I have to be sure cause my Dad likes her, I think. She's coming to our house tonight and I am going to spend time with her and my Dad watching the Avengers. I will gauge her opinion on people with super powers and test her as well. I learned from my aunt Aisha that Kim has an addiction to diet Pepsi. Whether or not this is a symptom of her mutation, cybernetics, or alien DNA is unknown. But in our garage my Dad has a bottle of Gorilla Glue. The strongest glue you can buy at your local Menards or Wallmart. It is strong enough to suspend a two hundred and eight pound man from a ceiling with a single spurt of glue. I saw the commercial on YouTube."
"I have used half the tube of Gorilla Glue two hours ago securing the plastic cap around this bottle," holds the bottle up, "Of diet Pepsi. I will make sure this is given to Kim and observe if she can open it or not. I worry that if her powers are revealed she may attack or attempt to mind-wipe us. To that end, Casey, if you find this recording and can't recall the previous 24 hours you need to remember three things. 1, Kimberly is some form of strange super human. 2, Dad can never know you accidentally dropped his toothbrush in the toilet. And 3, Never ever listen to Becky from across the street and type 'Two Girls and a Cup' into an online search engine. You will be scarred for life," she shivered mightily.
"Back to tonight. I have to admit I like Kim a lot. My first impression of her was that she was smart and funny and all around cool. Plus my Dad likes her, I can tell. She might like him too judging from the way she was looking at him. But she might also be able to vaporize us with red beams of doom from her eyes. I don't know, but I will find out. Tonight begins 'Operation New World'. Signing off now."
Switching off her web-cam, Casey took a deep breath, willing herself to be ready to do what needed to be done. She grabbed the diet Pepsi, and then walked out of her bedroom ready to face the great unknown world of Kimberly Hart.
Five Minutes Earlier
"Moment of truth," Kim muttered a bit nervously under her breath as she scaled the steps leading to the front door of Tommy's two-story brick home. She'd already checked her make-up in the car, sent a couple of text messages, and crunched down a trio of breath mints. She hadn't meant for the latter to be a sign that she intended any kissing to happen tonight, although she knew she'd be a bit disappointed if he didn't at least try.
Even with the lingering frustration she still dealt with over 'The relationship that shall not be named,' Kim felt a certain excitement come over her about tonight. Despite it being just a movie date with Tommy and his daughter, deep down she knew there was far more at play here than what was on the surface.
That damn kiss he gave her two weeks ago ignited a roaring fire she just couldn't quite put out. And instead of running away from the inferno, she knew she had to brave the flames in order to figure out where they truly stood.
Passion was easy to them. They had it in spades. Been that way since they were high school sweethearts when she first learned to blush. But was there more than that between them now? Years later, was what they felt now something to build a lasting... OK, Kim knew she was way over-thinking things a bit to fast. She silently scolded herself, forcing her mind to slow down and just enjoy whatever was to come.
So after taking a deep breath for the sake of her nerves, Kim finally rang the doorbell. Heavy footsteps quickly approached as the door swung open. She was met with such a charming, boyish grin that it immediately set her nerves at ease. Tommy looked oh so anxious, out of breath, and handsome. "Hey," she smiled.
A rush of desire pumped through him the moment he saw her, drinking in Kim's natural beauty and style. High-heeled black leather boots, oh so tight black jeans, and a purple and gold Angel Grove High School top complimented her little hoop ear rings and sexy ponytail in such a way he forgot to breathe. His heart was racing a mile a minute. "You're early."
"I didn't want to make you wait."
"I've been waiting for you since high school, Kim."
Such a loaded statement, though she played along with a daring smile. "A girl's gotta keep'ya guessing."
Tommy mock-pretended to be exasperated. "How am I ever supposed to know what to do with you?"
"Well, you can start by inviting me in."
Appearing cutely bashful, Tommy quickly stepped aside. "Sorry, come on in."
Brushing past him, her nose caught the scent of his cologne. It was one of her personal faves. As he shut the door she gave him a loving once-over, attraction flirting through her gaze. Jeans and a dark Polo shirt. So damn handsome. Sexy casual. She graced him with a teasing expression. "Someone smells good."
"Someone looks beautiful."
Kim trembled just before his strong arms closed tightly around her waist, drawing her into his warm embrace. She settled against him for a brief, heart-stopping moment as sexual tension crackled between them. Her gaze caught the pulse jump in his throat, and the way his full attention fixated on her softly-parted mouth. Suddenly she realized she was holding onto him so tightly, just staring into his eyes. She was at a loss for something cool to say. "You're a really good hugger."
The corner of his mouth curled skyward. "Ya think?"
"Yeah," was her soft reply.
"Can I tell you a secret?" She gave a cute little nod, her fingers teasing over his lower back. Bending down to her ear, he whispered, "I got a A+ in 'Advanced Hugging Techniques' in college."
She snickered, "You're such a pain in my ass."
"As long as I'm yours."
She melted that very second, gently nibbling her bottom lip as his mouth hovered ever closer... until fast-moving feet quickly broke them apart as Casey bounded down the stairs to interrupt them.
"What are you two doing?" Casey questioned as the duo parted upon her arrival.
"Kim just got here and I was giving her a hug," Tommy quickly chimed in as his daughter bounded toward the ex-Pink Ranger for a little 'Hello' hug herself. Though denied the kiss he sorely wanted, perhaps that was moving a bit to fast. They hadn't even had a chance to talk yet. "You ready for movie night, kiddo?"
"Yup," Casey cheerfully replied while still keeping her eyes on Kim. That was a pretty long hug she just saw, but she had other things on her agenda for tonight. "You look thirsty, Kim. Let me go get you a diet Pepsi. That's what Dad says you like."
The ten-year old raced off before Kim could get a word in. Smiling, former Pink Ranger noted, "Well, I am thirsty."
"How about hungry?" Tommy led her into his spacious living room, around the black sectional sofa. "I ordered two extra large pizzas and they were just delivered a few minutes ago. So do you wanna eat now or later?"
"Now's fine," Kim noted as she strolled about his living-room, taking in the nice decor. No doubt a bachelor lived here, but there were traces of a real home as well. Just needed a bit of a woman s touch.
Pausing momentarily, Tommy watched her move about his home, following her gaze. Just her presence here was something so meaningful to him. Either he was becoming a super-sap in his thirties, or she was the one and he had to get it right this time. "Be right back."
Having expected the 55'inch wall mounted flat-screen TV, as a guy like Tommy would have no less, she found two small tables of pictures at the ends of the sectional sofa most interesting. One held no less that five solo pictures of Casey, along with a few others of her with Tommy and his family. But the other table held pictures of all his closest friends. Most of which were very familiar to her.
Outside of three photos of people she didn't know, one of Hayley, and another of Anton, the rest represented the whole old school Angel Grove Gang. And there was even one of just him and her. She recognized it from her twenty-fourth birthday. Looked platonic enough with him gazing at her while she blew out the candles of her birthday cake. But there weren't any 'couples' pics of him and Katherine or Aisha.
"Good," Kim noted quietly, if a bit snarky. After all, the proper pecking order in his love life had to be maintained.
"Kim, here you go," Casey offered the bottle of diet Pepsi almost out of breath, having ran out the kitchen, past her Dad.
Kim took the bottle, twisted the cap without so much as a pause, and took a long drink. "This is my only true weakness," she winked and then considered Casey's wide-eyed response. "Do you like Diet Pepsi too?"
"Now I do," Casey replied, her heart racing. OK, so she wasn't crazy. Kim was super strong. Like Hulk strong. She'd used half a bottle of the Gorilla Glue securing the cap on the bottle and she twisted it away like it wasn't even there. She didn't even seem to notice. "I'll be right back. Then we can start the movie. Don't go anywhere!"
"I won't, I promise." Watching the beautiful little girl bound the steps two at a time, Kim just had such a good feeling about her. And she didn't seem to mind sharing her Dad for a night. If something were to start again with Tommy, well, now he was a package deal. Getting to know and develop a relationship with Casey would be a top priority. It was a lot to consider, and yet, it felt natural already.
"Dinner is served," Tommy said as he returned to the room with two huge plates piled high with pizza slices. He sat them on the glass table in front of the sofa. "Kiddo, grab something for us to drink. We're gonna eat now."
Casey raced back downstairs carrying something, and made a bee-line straight towards Kim. "I love this metal detector my Grandpa got me for my last birthday. Isn't it cool?"
"I used to have one when I was your age. I took it to the beach almost every single time we went. I always dreamed I was searching for buried treasure," Kim fondly recalled as she watched Casey show her how it worked, and then laughed when she aimed it at her once. It didn't register a signal outside of her watch. "I promise you I'm not a robot," she assured her.
"So it would seem," Casey noted carefully, nodding.
"Put that away now and get us something to drink," Tommy ordered her with a stern glare. She zipped away, and though she was acting a bit strange he was sure she was just hyper-excited. He had to admit he liked that. So far Casey seemed to like Kim. That was a good sign.
Ten minutes later the Avengers were assembling onscreen and dinner was served. Although she's seen the movie well over five times, Casey was quite the chatter-box, going over the details and asking questions about things she didn't know about. She liked that no matter how many times she asked Kim something, her Dad's friend never seemed to get tired of answering. She was a really nice super-girl, and her Dad seemed to really like her. Hopefully she was human.
"Dad, would you be scared of someone if they had super powers?" Casey asked about an hour into the movie, now lying on the floor with a couch pillow facing away from the adults.
"No, honey. I've seen some strange things in my life, but I would never treat anyone different just because they had super powers," he explained. "The world is filled with different kinds of people, honey. We've talked about that before, but we're all the same at the end of the day.
Nodding, Casey liked that answer a lot. "I wouldn't be scared either, Daddy. Not even if the person was from the future, or a different planet, or was part cyborg, or knew magical stuff." Casey stretched her arms out and shot a little smile Kim's way from over her shoulder. Then she calmly turned back to the movie. "Super powers would be so cool to have."
"Casey, what super power would you want if you could have any of them?" Kim asked while attempting to ignore how Tommy had moved closer to her. So close their legs were touching on the couch. She had no doubt that was a calculated move done on purpose. One that she secretly didn't mind in the least.
Thinking hard about it, Casey enthusiastically exclaimed, "I'd love to be able to fly like Superman. That would be so cool. I'd fly to school everyday, and to my grandma's house, and to Toys-R-Us. And to Daddy's school." Sitting up, she quickly fired back, "OK, what super power would you want, Kim?"
Considering she currently possessed a secret one, Kim gave thought to if she could have chosen for herself rather than what Dulcia gave her. "I wish I could walk through solid objects. Make myself like a ghost. Like being able to walk through a closed door or run through someone. That would be so cool to me for some reason."
Casey wondered if she already had that power or not. Probably not, as she seemed like a really honest person. Just a super strong, short, honest person. "That sounds like fun. You thought of a good one."
Grinning, Kim replied, "Why thank you."
"Dad, its your turn," Casey said.
"I don't know," Tommy began while eat a thick slice of pizza. "I think I'd like to be able to become invisible. That way I could always sneak up on people and karate chop them." Casey laughed at his silliness, while he caught a glimpse of affection in Kim's eyes. "I could sneak out of Kim's class when it gets boring."
"Daddy, be nice," Casey playfully warned before turning back to the movie.
Flashing a naughty grin, Kimberly leaned into him, whispering, "My class is never boring, Mr. Oliver. Every single time you've been 'inside' it," she gently grazed her hand over his thigh, "You've never wanted to leave."
Justified in his belief that she was part evil, Tommy hated her power over him. How effortlessly she drove him to insanity and arousal. Making sure Casey was thoroughly into the movie, he whispered back. "Maybe you need to remind me."
Indulging in the pulse-quickening moment, Kim pushed the envelope, "You know I keep a 'tight' schedule."
Holding her gaze hostage, her soft lips were just begging to be thoroughly kissed. That little smirk she wore was driving him to madness. "By all means, please continue."
"I'd love too," she echoed seductively, enjoying the raw hunger written all over his handsome face. "But you're still in the dog house." Turning her full attention back to the movie, Tommy's quiet growl of impatience was kind of sexy, but she had no intention of revealing that.
"Oh, I forgot to ask." Casey's baby blues lit up as she rolled over and faced the couch again. "Kim, you grew up in Angel Grove just like my Daddy did, right?"
"I sure did."
"Do you have any good Power Rangers stories? I love hearing about them."
"... I may have one or two," she began teasingly enough, sharing a knowing glance with Tommy. "The White Ranger saved my life this one time. See, I was kidnapped by this slimy bad guy named..."
Tommy listened intently to Kim's heavily modified tale of the old days in Angel Grove. He recalled the one she was telling Casey about, saving her from Lord Zedd's dark dimension, and how worried he'd been for her safety. How angrily he fought Zedd, truly wanting to kill him once and for all. The memory felt ancient to him, as if another person had lived that incredibly adventurous life.
Still, he greatly enjoyed reliving the excitement and awe of those times through his beloved daughter. The way her face lit up the room as she hung on every word Kim said warmed his heart. She was enthralled by the Rangers exploits as he thought back to those heroic days of yesteryear.
The sheer power he felt coursing through him. The thrills and the battles and all the amazing things he'd done with all his best friends. The danger they faced. The lives lost. The countless others saved. What a epic life he'd led.
And yet as he sat there, Tommy couldn't imagine a better one than this little picture in front of him right now. On this very typical, very unspecial Saturday night just watching a movie with Kim and his daughter, he'd never been happier in his entire life.
The true meaning behind that wasn't lost on him.
"Daddy, can I marry Thor when I get older?"
Looking up wide-eyed, Tommy's thoughts slammed back into the present. "No!"
"Can I marry Thor?" Kim just had to ask in a snarky tone, playfully elbowing her ex-boyfriend and current something-something.
Tommy wanted to kiss that devilish grin off her face so bad as the need to taste her was driving him batty. "A better question is will you help me take this stuff in the kitchen and clean-up?"
Kim wanted to laugh at him. He wasn't fooling anyone, she mentally noted. With Casey's yawning and her attention back on the movie, he was trying to get her all alone. Bittersweet tenderness swelled in her heart as she internally battled with still being upset with him versus wanting to climb his strong body like a jungle gym.
In the end curiosity won out.
"Fine, I'll help," she exhaled as if it were a chore even though she was smiling the whole time. Casey was back lying on her pillow watching the movie. She grabbed the empty diet Pepsi bottles while Tommy took the pizza boxes. Following him into the kitchen through the dining room, she boldly declared. "You're not fooling anyone."
Grinning out of her line of sight, Tommy folded the pizza boxes in half, and then shoved them in the black trash can in the corner of the kitchen near the back door. Suddenly she was beside him, throwing away the rest of the garbage. Unable to resist touching her at last, his hands slipped around her slender wrists, drawing her flush against his body. She willingly sank into him. Peering down, he fixed her with a sharp, penetrating gaze. "I wasn't trying too."
"Doesn't matter," her voice trembled slightly, the frightening depth of emotion she felt for him on full display as she felt his heart beating wildly beneath her right hand. His breath fanned her cheek warmly as they gazed into each others eyes. "Why didn't you tell me?"
That note of her lacing her tone of voice was unmistakable. Tommy sighed deeply, and then gave a weary shake of his head. But at no time did he let her go. "When I told Aisha that you and I were getting closer, and that my feelings for you were deepening she had already made plans to visit. She felt she should have told you a long time ago, and wanted to be the one to tell you now. She felt guilty and she begged me to let her do it. But I did want to tell you. I'm sorry for keeping it a secret. I swear I never meant to hurt you."
Secrets. Kim venomously hated them, and yet, she certainly had her own. More than one even, so holding onto this prideful hurt wasn't helping them move forward. Suddenly it dawned on her that was what she wanted. Progress. Something more. New. But she could no more hold an old secret against him than she hoped he would hold against her when she finally came clean. Fair was fair. "I'm not... I mean I don't want you to think I'm angry at you. I know you and Aisha were over two years ago and we weren't together at the time. I get that. I just..." Revealing this vulnerable side of herself wasn't easy. She winced before revealing, "I hate the idea of any woman being that close to you. Knowing that you fell in love with her. Especially a good friend of mine. It's... its complex and crazy and just a mess of stuff in my head. But I'm dealing."
"So you're a bit jealous?"
"Don't you dare smile," she playfully warned him, poking a well manicured finger dead center in his chest.
"No, you're fighting not to smile."
"... maybe a little." When she rolled her eyes at him he drew her even closer, releasing her wrists to curl his arms around her waist. To enjoy the warm femininity of her body against his. Dying to touch her, he buried his face in her neck, while his hand seductively caressed the gentle curve of her spine over her shirt. He whispered to her, "I'm truly sorry."
"I have secrets," Kim exhaled deeply, bowing her head to his chest, shutting her eyes. His arms closed tighter around her, reassuring her. "There are things I haven't told you about yet, so I'm no better than you are. That's why I'm not gonna give you anymore grief about the Aisha thing."
"Please don't tell me you slept with any of the guys?" he questioned against her neck, peppering warm, lush kisses along her throat. The erotic moan that escaped her as she double-fisted his shirt made his cock throb against her.
"No, nothing like that," she quietly laughed.
Tommy arched a brow. "One of the girls?"
"Only in your perverted dreams."
Shutting his eyes, his expression took on a dreamy visage. "You and Kat in hospital nurse outfits..."
"I'm gonna kill you." She meant it, wanting to choke him, but loving the way his wet tongue was lightly brushing over her soft skin. The way his arms held her so possessively. A violent shiver of arousal swept through her as he passionately French-kissed along her pulse, sucking and licking and forcing her to feel that thick piece of him that was aching for her. When her hand slipped down between them, she grazed the length of his cock with her palm, causing him to hiss powerfully. Suddenly she imagined a wealth of sexual fantasies they could indulge in, but somehow found a way to slow things down. "Casey can't find us like this."
Growling almost painfully, Tommy knew Casey discovering them like this wouldn t be setting a good example. And no matter how the scent of her skin was an aphrodisiac, he had to be mindful of what his daughter saw him do. His voice strained as he gently bit at the shell of her ear, breathing heavily, "I want you."
Warmth flowed through her at his words. Caressing the side of his face with the back of her hand, Kim nodded. Trembling in his arms, barely able to find her voice. "I want you too," she confessed in a hushed tone.
Releasing his hold around her, Tommy took a couple of steps back, glaring at the floor to ward off how badly he desired to claim her in every way a man could take a woman. His heart was pounding inside the cage of his chest so powerfully he thought it might burst. Had he ever so ached for a woman? Pretending to look away, he gritted his teeth. "You look so sexy in those damn heels."
She'd bought them to turn him on. Fuck me heels for the words she didn't have the courage to say to his face. He didn't need to know that. Even as her arms rose to cross her chest, her body vibrated with the awareness of him. She shifted her stance, unable to remain still. "Lets go back in the living room."
Grumbling to himself, Tommy begrudgingly agreed. Stepping aside to let her by, when Kim moved past him their fingers brushed ever so. Within a whisper, he confessed, "You're my heart."
The corner of her mouth curled into a tender smile. "Is that a pun?"
"No... no its not."
With her heart now racing a mile a second, Kim struggled for something to say. Something equally heartfelt. Alas, her throat closed shut around any declarations as she quickly exited the kitchen.
Combing his fingers through his short, dark hair in an exasperated pose, Tommy marched back into the living room. He caught sight of his baby girl fast asleep on the floor and Kim watching over her. Onscreen the Avengers credits were playing. "Looks like its bedtime for my girl."
Lifting her gaze, when Kim met his eyes she wondered for a split second how he meant that. She instantly knew she was over thinking things far too much. "Looks that way."
Tommy bent down and lovingly scooped a still sleeping Casey in his arms, resting her head over his shoulder. When he pressed a kiss to her temple the ten-year old didn't wake in the least. "She's out like a light. I'm gonna put her to bed. Be back in a bit. The TV remote is on the inn table. Help yourself."
Unable to move from where she stood, Kim nodded. "OK." Her gaze followed Tommy upstairs until he was put of sight. She sighed, knowing that the night was now over and she should just stand by the door, give him a quick kiss, and then leave. They had enjoyed a fun, sweet movie night with his daughter. They talked out some things, but now it was time for her to go home.
Problem was every part of her body vibrated, literally hummed with sexual tension. The best lover she had ever had was right upstairs. So was his bed. And he was single, very attracted to her, and openly wanted her as badly as she wanted him.
And want him she did!
Her eyes shut, and then her hand covered her mouth as the sultry fantasies assaulted her subconscious. She was practically bristling with impatient heat for him. Her feet began to pace back and forth in front of the couch... that nice, comfy sectional that they could re-invent the Kama Sutra on... of course the carpet was nice and soft too... the kitchen table looked sturdy...
Snickering to herself, she wondered if this was her inner fifteen year old horny teenage boy peeking out. She'd really gone off the deep end this time. Casey was upstairs probably fast asleep and it wouldn't be very classy to spend the night after their first movie date. Tomorrow morning would be awkward to explain, and not very classy either.
Of course she didn't have to spend the night, Evil-Kim whispered in her subconscious. Not the whole night. Just a couple of vigorous, wild hours of fucking Tommy's brains out to the tune of half a dozen or so Earth-shattering, toe-curling orgasms.
"No, no, no" she quietly chanted to herself under her breath. Going home was her end-of-the-night plan all along. She shared a really nice evening with Tommy and Casey. She knew she wanted to see more of him. Figuring that out for sure and discussing the Aisha thing were her only true goals tonight.
Time to go home, she felt was the right thing to do as she marched toward the front door. Suddenly a fast-moving presence closed in behind her, turned her around on her heel, and literally lifted her off the ground.
Having aggressively hauled her off her feet up against his chest, Tommy hadn t said a word when he finally captured her sweet mouth in a raw, hungry kiss. She surrendered that very second, gasping around their lush, deep kiss.
This was pure fire, consuming them in roaring flames as his mouth slanted wetly over hers, his hands clutching her ass tightly over her jeans, drawing her so hard against him. Nothing in this world mattered to him more than taking this woman right now! Her fingers raked through his hair as they violently ate at each other, growing more erotic by the second. The desperate slide of their mouths left them panting, inhaling the others air, flying high off the drug of their overwhelming passion.
Kim felt them walking backward until the heels of her boots hit the couch. His shove of her down onto the sectional was followed by her two-fisted handful of his shirt as she boldly drug him down on top of her. She captured his mouth before she could think twice about the wisdom of it, lashing her tongue over his, dragging him into the cradle of her hips. Soul-wrenching lust left her wet and greedy with need. Her legs crossed round his lower body to trap him. She shivered when he ground his hips into her, his hard cock gliding over her center.
God, how she wanted to be filled with him - engaged in sheet-clawing, loud, bed-breaking sex that they'd never forget. The hardness of the muscles beneath his shirt turned her on. The way his hands canvassed her body, taking what he wanted. She trembled beneath him, arching her hips to grind against his hardness. Loving the way he growled into her mouth.
Overcome by sheer, overpowering need to take her, Tommy fucked her mouth with his tongue. All the while grinding into her, cradling the back of her head while drinking from the sweetness of her mouth. He just couldn t think... didn't want to think... just needed her. Ached for her. Loved her.
Feeling the silent demand of his mouth, she whimpered when he gently bit at her bottom lip. Her plan was in shambles as she was kissing this man with such relentless hunger. Her hands roamed his hard body, loving every part of him she touched. Her nipples tightened when he cupped her breasts, his hands molding to their shape as she suckled his tongue in her mouth.
They were so hot together, she thought. Just like they were at Jason's place five years ago.
And just like that the gigantic bucket of ice cold water she needed to put a halt to this out of control runaway freight train of lust was used. Fleeing his kiss, Kim lifted a knee against his crotch, panting. "Stop," she breathed heavily. "We need to stop."
Angry, hot, filled with raw desire and need and impatience and about every other emotion a woman could evoke in a man, Tommy stared down at her. "What's wrong?"
Thinking it over, Kim gave a slow shake of her head. Her body screamed bloody murder at her maturity for stepping in at this time. She was literally trembling with emotion. "Everything."
Feeling there must be some kind of glitch in her system, Kim rose and walked away from where Tommy sat. She needed distance to think, and knew what her body was craving most was far to dangerous to be near at this time.
Still struggling to catch his breath, Tommy fought off the urge to go after her. Instead, he stayed where he was, following her with his gaze. He sensed she was collecting her thoughts. "Kim, talk to me. What's going on?"
Bracing her hands on the back of the couch, she paused before expressing, "I don't want to just be a convenient piece of ass."
"Kim!" he all but roared, "I have never, ever thought of you as that. And would never treat you that way."
"You don't understand, Tommy," she began. "And what I said probably didn't come out right either." Pushing all else aside, she moved to sit beside him again. "Tommy, I'm in my thirties now. I've been someones girlfriend. I've been someones lover. I've had my secret affairs and my fun and all of that."
"Five years ago," she continued, "We finally crossed the line and had our time together. We had the absolute best sex of my life and we never told a soul about it. We enjoyed our secret and then went on with our lives like nothing ever happened. And maybe back then I needed and wanted something like that for my own reasons. But now I'm different. I'm in a different place in my life. I'm a different person. And I don't just want a fuck-buddy or Friends-With-Benefits. I don't want a secret relationship. I want something real and true that can be grown into something that will last. And as badly as I do want you tonight, us sleeping together right now feels no different than it did five years ago. And I need it to feel different."
Her eyes conveyed the depth of her seriousness. Tommy listened intently, truly assessing the situation. He swallowed hard, and then took her small hands in his, linking their fingers together. Her held her hands in his lap. Not for the thousandth time he wished he had Zack's ability to always know the right thing to say to a woman. But he knew how to be sincere. "Ok."
Kim gave a small little snicker. "Ok? Just OK?"
Shrugging, Tommy raised her hands and softly kissed them both. She was to be cherished, always. "You want things to be different. Well so do I. But the thing I think you don't realize is that they are already different. The people we were five years ago aren't who we are now."
"Tell me what's different about you?"
Delving into his psyche, and then talking about it wasn't his forte. But for her he'd do anything. "I... I think my whole life I've wanted to chase that next great adventure life had to offer. I love my adoptive parents more than anything, but I felt like I never truly had roots tying me down. When I became a Ranger it was everything I could have ever wanted. The excitement and the danger and the thrills fueled me. And when it ended I needed a new challenge. I needed to see if I could tackle something out of my comfort zone. Racing was a short-term solution, so I went to college and became a paleontologist. But as soon as a shot at being a Ranger came again, I jumped at it."
Kim shook her head, grinning. "I still want to smack all of you Ex-Red's upside the head for that moon mission."
"Then I met Anton Mercer and the adventures started all over again. I didn't think about the danger or how long I'd been doing it. I have never feared death. I just did it. No second thoughts."
Sparing a glance upstairs, Tommy's attention returned to Kim. "But when my Dino days ended and I finally opened up my martial arts school, something I'd wanted to do since high school. The challenge became running a business, and just like all the times before, if it didn't work out I'd just move on to something else."
"Ever the restless soul."
"Yeah, until I met Casey," he explained. "From the day she was placed in my personal class I felt a connection to her. And as time passed and I learned her story from the caseworker and just everything, I realized that if I was going to take on this incredible responsibility, this challenge of being a parent, then I would have to finally change myself. I couldn't run off at the first sign of adventure anymore. Casey needed a home, a full-time father, and a lifestyle she could count on and thrive in. I had to settle down and let the Ranger stuff go. I couldn't just uproot my life and go to another country to get my Indiana Jones on in a deep, dark cave. Being a parent meant creating a stable home for Casey to grow up in, and being there for her in a way her mother never was. I needed to grow up and put down roots. And after weighing if this was what I truly wanted, I realized the greatest adventure my life could ever have was being her Dad. Nothing in this world makes me happier than that."
Feeling tender and soft next to him, his endearing words left her eyes wet with tears. She had that irresistible urge to insure that smile of his never left his face. He was such a good man. A real man. Hers, she smiled fondly. Hearing him talk about his daughter and his life... she was touched beyond words.
Kimberly kissed Tommy.
Leaning into him, she softly caressed his face while gliding her mouth over his, kissing him with such loving affection. She noted in a soft tone, "I've been your friend."
"Yes," he smiled before stealing another little kiss.
"I ve been your teammate."
"I've been your girlfriend."
She kissed him once more, softly, slowly. "I've been your lover."
"I want to be in a relationship where it goes somewhere I've never been before. Do you understand?" Her not-so-hidden meaning wasn't lost on him as he kissed her deeply once more, drinking from her lips.
Tommy cupped the back of her head, holding her so close to him. "Do you understand that I'm a package deal now?"
"Interesting choice of words," he winked.
She flushed just a little. "... maybe some day."
They shared such a profound, thoughtful moment of silence.
"We still need to talk about the things going on in my life that I... that I need to explain to you. But not tonight, please. Is that OK?" Kim asked hopefully.
"Fair enough, but soon."
He was serious and she understood that. "Agreed."
"So now what?"
"Romance me," Kim declared with a loving determination. "If we're going to do this, lets do it right. I want you to romance me. And I want to romance you too. And then I want us to build this into something that can last." Speaking from the heart, she erased the final line between them. "I love you."
Just like that, Tommy's soul soared. "I love you too."
"I know," she smiled brightly, feeling so free at last. Brave. Grown up and mature. "Now I can't go home if you don't let my hands go."
"I don't want you to go home."
"I don't either, but we both know I need too," she replied. "What Casey thinks of me as an individual and us as a couple matters. She needs to get to know me better and you need to talk to her about us first."
Hating the logic, but loving the woman, Tommy rose and led her to the front door. He absolutely hated the thought of not taking her to bed tonight. The taste of her would gnaw at him. Sleep wouldn't come easy, if at all. "Goodnight, Beautiful." He kissed her once more... slowly, deeply.
The click of the door behind her left him leaning against it, head bowed, both happy and incredibly frustrated at the same time. And then his cell phone buzzed in his pocket. A new text message arrived.
'Me too. K'
The Heights Motel
1800 Western Dr
Saturday, November 17, 2012 11:00 PM
Long Beach, Ca
The constant pounding at her front door finally roused her fully from a drug-induced slumber. Blinking in the dark, she looked around to gain her bearings. Her mouth felt dry as the desert as she rose from the couch, scowling at the front door and whatever jackass was bothering her. The rent was paid for the week, so it couldn't be Sosa. And she was outta money, so Vinny wasn't coming around for more blow.
The hard pounding at the front door began again.
"Who the fuck is it!" she shouted angrily, blazing toward door the door. Ever mindful of the bad neighborhood she called home, she shoved the third upper lock latch in place before peeking through the peephole. "Sonofabitch," she mouthed quietly as she stared at the outrageously handsome man on the other end. Men dressed like that don't come around here. "Look, I ain't a working girl if you catch my drift. Try three doors down if you want some pussy."
"Are you Madelyn Conner?"
Taking a careful step back, the thin woman immediately became defensive. "Who in the hell wants to know?"
"My name is Gabriel Alero. And I have a proposition for her that could make her a very wealthy woman. This involves her daughter, Casey."
Her interest peeked, Madelyn looked through the peephole once more, looking to see if the guy was armed. He was dressed to kill, and in this kind neighborhood he stuck out like a sore thumb. But what in the world could he do for her? "Start talking through the door and I might see if I can help you find her. And you had better make it fast. People around her don't like strangers. But they would definitely love to relieve you of your wallet."
Pissed, but keeping his cool, Gabriel continued. "Give me ten minutes of your time and I will explain. I can offer Madelyn two hundred thousand dollars for her help. But that offer is off the table in the next ten seconds if this door doesn't open."
Suddenly it swung wide open, revealing a disheveled, slightly off-center woman of average height. Her super thin build, curly brown hair, and blue eyes would have appeared striking on a healthy person. She looked anything but, all glassy eyed and figety. She was clearly high, and the room smelled of cigarettes and marijuana. Her clothes looked like they had been worn for days on end. "I'm Madelyn Conner. Lets talk."
Smirking evilly, Gabriel walked inside.
The End of Chapter 2