Keeping it light is what I always did best, the open road stretching out good enough for me. I lit out of my hometown the minute I turned eighteen, never looked back. Staying in one place too long made me edgy, with me having the itch to go places. Didn't bother making too many friends, but I can't say I was lonely. Women really dig the bad boy thing; and I was like a kid in a candy store. A little fun, a few laughs, I was good to go. Who needed sticky strings, and all that bullshit? All that's just traps to put the ball and chain around a guy's ankle.

Lilly Rush was a woman that could knock you back on your heels, and got under a guy's skin real good. Those baby blues burn in a guy's mind, all that sexy mystery and sassy spirit just daring a guy to knock down those damned walls and get nice and close. Then there's that attitude, tough girl all the way, but read between the lines, and I read people good, you'd see something haunted. Man, oh, man I was a goner, and I had to get closer. She played hard to get, made me fight every step of the way to get anywhere.

Got to admit, more than once I thought about just calling it quits. I wasn't used to busting my balls for any gal, can't say I cared for all the fancy footwork, and getting doors slammed in your face doesn't exactly pump up a guy's ego. But those eyes kept me coming back, that anguish something I thought I could just fix just like that. What a cocky pipe dream that was.

Make a long story short; I kept chipping at the ice until I got to something warmer. Corny as it sounds, I lost at my own game, and Lilly Rush wormed her way into my heart, and at the end of the day, that suited me from the ground up. Lilly wasn't like most broads. She didn't play games, no flaming hoops to burn a guy's ass, no hidden agenda. She didn't whine, she didn't twist your arm. She wanted something? She got it herself, stood on her own two feet. And the more she didn't ask, the more I wanted to give.

And if ever there was a demonstration of a perverse part of a female's character, it was Christina Rush. Not that I saw it then, I can admit it, the little minx was good. Even at eighteen, she knew just how to play the game, how to cash in on good looks and sex appeal, and come out the fresh-faced innocent. She even had Lilly snowed, a blind spot a mild wide. If there was a crack in the Lilly Rush security system it was that once you were in the fortress, you had full clearance.

Chris had been crashing with Lilly since she was fifteen, mommie dearest not exactly prime guardian material. Lilly was like a mom, a sister, and a pal rolled into one package. Sure, they had their tough spots, but they always got through them, and I didn't stick around to watch the sister bonding sessions much, or the cat fights either. I know guys are supposed to dig the latter, but man, not me.

Guys are known for being dense, but give us some credit. We're not morons, or don't have to be. I knew Chris had a thing for me, knew she wasn't prancing around in short-shorts and halter tops, feet stuffed into God awful stelleto heels, hair and make-up done at eight o'clock in the morning because she wanted to hang out. And I sure hell knew she wasn't just being friendly, she was flirting her guts out.

She was smart enough to keep her butt covered when Lilly was around, and skip the tease. My mistake wasn't shrugging it off, if I'd kept it at that, it would have been a case of no harm, no foul. But I got a kick out of it. I had no plans of taking her up on the offer, but I can't say I minded. She was a hot chick, and a fun one. We were two peas in a pod, more so than me and Lilly. Both of us had a wild streak, rode high on thrills, and we'd both met our match.

But other than getting a kick out her company, and enjoying the view she strutted around, there was nothing going on. I kept my hands to myself. Sure, she got my attention on a more primitive level of things, but I was a guy, and a hot-blooded one at that, and that's as far as it got. People tend to graviate, like magnets, to what's opposite of them. Too alike is too boring, even with two daredevils. Lilly balanced me out, and I gave her a chance to spread her wings a little. With Chris, give us a month, we'd just burn each other out. It'd be a hell of a ride, but not worth the crash.

I can't say Chris was the only thorn on the rose, 'cause she wasn't. The big bad badge that Lilly toted along got to be a wedge between us. She talked a good game, about wanting the whole nine yards, but where was it gonna fit, huh? Before or after patrols? What, was she gonna drag the kids along in the squad car? Drop the kids off at the day care, and see 'em for a whole whopping hour at night? I pointed this stuff out until I was blue in the face, but it was like talking to a wall. Lilly Rush was gonna have it all, and screw you if you said different.

Not to be outdone, I brought my own problems to the table, I ain't gonna lie. I don't know when a beer turned into two, and then a six pack, then another, or when beer turned to shots of scotch, whiskey, vokda, tequila, all the devil's own. For a while, I slid by without Lilly picking up on the problem, but she was too smart for my own good, and her mother gave her some lessons that turned her nose sharp to liquor. And when she caught wind of it, she flipped out. She was about one step away from calling the whole thing off, but I knew what bottons to push, and she bought what I sold.

The night it all went down we had the mother of all fights. You name it, we yelled it. Every verbel weapon we had, we used it. Any uglier, and it would have got physical. She had to go on the goddamn patrol, her sacred duty called. Our problems were hanging in the balance, and she walked out. I was so pissed I was literally seeing red.

Christina never missed a cue, and she knew one when she heard it, so she came slinking down the stairs. She had the idiot's balm for problems, booze. We went through three bottles of twenty year old wine real fast, then on to the beer. Normally, I could swim in beer, and it doesn't do a damned things, but there was plenty in the outside fridge, and we drank ourselves under the table.

After that, it's kind of blurry. Ironic. The mistake the costs me everything, and I barely remember a damned thing. It's all haze in my mind, blurs of sensation and skin against skin, Christina's hot little mouth everywhere, vague sounds of bottons popping, fabric ripping, and not much else. Next thing I know, it's morning, and she's passed out, both of us naked in the tangled sheets. For a minute, I thought it was all a crazy nightmare, a bizarre trick of my hangerover, but no such luck. No waking up from this nightmare.

It was about to get worse. All Lilly's stuff was gone, her presence ripped out from the house. There was a scorching note on the table, and there was no getting around it. Everything had gone to hell in a hand basket, and I had nobody to blame but myself. Sure, Chris leant a hand, didn't mean I had to take the bait.

A desperate sonofabitch at this point, I tried to get to Lilly. Not that I could explain, pretty sure she'd had the birds and the bees talk a long time back, but if I had to spend my whole life doing it, I was gonna make it up to her. But the doors were closed, locked up, both me and Chris were given the boot. Can't say as I blamed her, we had it coming. What we did was lower than low.

After that, I drank myself to the bottom of a bottle, kept on going till I hit rock bottom. I was out on the streets a while, just another stumbling bum. I won't get into it, since I was too drunk to remember most of it, but I finally kicked the booze. Thought about looking up Lilly after that, throwing myself at her feet. Hey, it might have been worth a shot, but I'll never know. Never got up the nerve, figured she probably moved on by now.

So I'm back to where I started, keeping it light, the open road my best and only buddy. Maybe I should have just stuck to that, saved everybody a lot of trouble. But man, even though it's been nine years, I still see those baby blues in my mind, burning my brain, stabbing at my gut. I had my heart's desire in my arms, and I threw it away for nothing. Too bad there aren't awards for being a total idiot.