Title: "The Glory Days"
Season 1 (Episode 6 of 10)
Written by: Shawn

Summary: slow, hauntingly sensual music plays, intercut with quick flashing images "A man and a woman wet under a hot showers spray... Kim confronting someone angrily... Tommy running hard down a busy city street as fast as he can, sheer terror etched on his face."

Category: Drama/Romance
Rating: M. Adult language, adult situations, and sexual encounters. Chapters containing sex scenes will be marked accordingly.
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to the PR universe. If I did I'd be living in a mansion.

Timeline: Everything up to the end of Dino Thunder is canon. Kim's background post-"Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie" is all my creation. This story is set in January 2008.

Email: Notes: This is being written in Kim's POV, thus it is Kim-centric with a heavy emphasis on other characters and relationships as well.

Author's Notes 1: Sit back, relax, and pretend you're about to watch a new television show airing its series premier. Oh yeah, it's on cable. It's featuring characters you grew up with and some new ones I hope you grow to love. None of them are perfect, so don't expect cookie-cutter characters who always say, act, think, and react in a Brady Bunch sort of way. They're human and that's why we love them.

Author's Notes 2: All details as to the how and why things are the way they are will be expiated in the story. Trust me, answers are coming.

Authors Notes 3: No chapter in this series will feature more than two scenes in order to make it easier to update more frequently. Also you might see other PR authors dip into this little universe from time to time writing their own chapters. I know how and when certain things will happen, but there is no definitive end to this series. It's ongoing until... well, until.

Authors Notes 4: TK fans... it's gonna be a slow burn. But you know me 'wink'.

Authors Notes 5: Expect in the near future for me to allow other PR authors a chance to write chapters in this ongoing universe. I have three lined up so far and there may be more, so we'll see. At some point I might start taking applications if anyone wants to try their hand.

Beta Read by: The most amazing, beautiful, captivating, woman in the world. My fiancé, Gina.

Authors Note: PS. Scenes 2 and 3 were beta'd by me, so if they suck its my fault, lol.


"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live."
Dorothy Thompson


Episode 6 "Crumbling Walls"

An unseen announcer speaks over the end of the credits for the previous program. "Up next, 'The Glory Days'."

(Voice over begins with the shows theme song, Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" playing in the background.)

"Once upon a time there was a little girl growing up in sunny California who wanted a typical life." (Footage of a little girl with curly brown hair chasing an older brother who's stealing her Barbie dolls, then kicking him hard in the balls when she catches him.) "She entertained dreams of being the worlds greatest gymnast." (Footage of the young girl, about ten years old now, racing doing jumps and flips under her father's instruction in the backyard of a nice house.) "She was blessed with the best friends a girl could ever want." (Footage of the young girl, a boy with sandy blond hair, two others with dark hair, and a pretty Asian girl-all smiling bright for the camera.) "Like I said, she wanted what she got, a typical life. That was until high school and the monumental occasion that opened a brave new world: her first gymnastics competition." (Footage of the teenage girl preparing for her first meet, looking nervous but determined..) "Her first true love." (Standing with her best friend, the girl catches sight of a handsome boy practicing during a martial arts tournament. He takes her breath away.) "And the absolute most shocking experience of her young life." (Black and white footage with the words "TOP SECRET" scrolling across the bottom of the screen...a Pink Ranger battling alongside her teammates...flying Zords...fighting against and then along side a Green Ranger...gazing lovingly at the white-clad martial artist.)

"Then her typical life turned upside down when her parents divorced." (Shots of the girl seated on a couch during a heart-wrenching talk with her parents, then a tearful goodbye at an airport with her mother and another man.) "An opportunity of a lifetime that would separate her from her friends and her boyfriend." (Images of Coach Schmidt, the girl addressing her fellow Rangers, walking with Tommy along the shore, then transferring her powers to a tall blond girl.) "As one door closed, another opened to a new adventure that sent her places she never expected to go." (Fast-moving images of a girl getting off a plane in Florida...training hard...sitting in classes...talking on the phone to her boyfriend...preparing for the international gymnastics competition...meeting with the press...an introduction to a new male friend...a deeply powerful kiss with the new guy under moonlight...sobbing while writing a letter...more training...the Pan Global games...breaking up with the new guy...getting her first apartment...a tense meeting with her ex-boyfriend after a trip back home...the two of them finally making peace at a funeral for a dear friend...finishing college with honors.) "The next phase in her already amazing life came in the form of a great job opportunity in New York, NY." (Shots of her stepping off another plane, of gazing out the window of a taxi at the Big Apple while smiling brightly.) "As it often does when you least expect it, her life began to take many new twists and turns." (Meeting some guys at the office...them practicing together in a band...performing on stage again for the first time in years.) "And most astonishing of all, a one-in-a-million chance encounter with the man of her... with someone very special." (Shocked expressions on an older Tommy and Kim's face at a apartment showing, both worrying over not being able to pay the rent individually, an idea struck up over coffee, arguing over moving in and who's stuff goes where, accidental awkward moments in the bathroom, an almost-kiss in the rain.) "She wanted a typical life and yet lived anything but. Angel Grove was chapter one." (Footage of Angel Grove High and the Power Rangers Command Center.) "Florida was chapter 2." (Footage of Coach Schmidt's training compound, the girl's dorm room, and the beach.) "New York is the latest chapter." (Daytime skyline flyover of the big city followed by the grown woman walking the streets of NY, looking sharp, her shoulder length brown hair blowing in the wind, determined and focused on the life ahead of her.) (On-screen credits read 'Created and written by Shawn'.) "That young girl who wanted a typical life grew up to be me. My name is Kimberly Ann Hart and this is my story. The Glory Days of my life."


115 West 57th Street
Tommy and Kimberly's 4th floor apartment
Saturday, April 8, 5:45 PM 2008
New York City, NY

The soft click of my front door unlocking was music to my ears.

After battling my heart most of the night, Mother Nature came back today for round two while on my way home from Katherine's hotel. We waged an unholy war through a mind-numbing traffic jam, heavy rainfall, and lightening streaking all over the sky. Nonetheless, I came out on top as I made it here without succumbing to road rage or yelling at any slow driving senior citizens.

Yay me! Kim, one. Mother Nature, one. We'll settle the score in a rubber match some other time.

Easing quietly inside the apartment, my senses are immediately overwhelmed with the mouthwatering aroma of... I'm pretty sure it's spaghetti. I catch sight of Tommy stirring something in the kitchen with a phone cradled against his ear. He hasn't noticed me yet, which makes me smile for some crazy reason. If Damien is the Omen Anti-Christ, then Tommy is the Anti-Sock, as he never wears them. He's cooking barefoot, clad in a pair of snug, faded blue jeans and a snug-fitting NYU T-shirt. He's utterly delicious looking. I can't see his face, but he never shaves on Saturday. He's probably got some stubble darkening his handsome features. I like him like that, all rumpled and sexy-relaxed.

It kinda dawns on me all of a sudden that it wasn't when I reached the parking lot, or walked inside the building, or got on our pokey elevator, or even when I walked through the front door, that I realized I was home. It's just now, watching him, that the feeling of belonging somewhere warms me all over. Melodramatic, yeah, I know. But he's here and I'm here and we're alone together. And while I may not have everything where he is concerned figured out in this zany head of mine, I do love where he fits in my life and that I get to share his.

He's closer to me than any lover I've ever had, and I've never even seen him naked. That pesky thought blushes my cheeks.

I hear Tommy say goodbye to someone and then he catches sight of me. There isn't a hint of awkwardness in his sweet, welcoming smile. Despite the talk we probably need to have he looks as pleased to see me as I do him. I'm staring openly at the way his hard muscles outline that t-shirt, while I think he's enjoying my slightly wet look. We silently appraise each other for a moment or two before I'm hanging up my coat and setting down my purse. The scent of something spicy tantalizes my rumbling stomach when I turn around.

Tommy's holding out a forkful of delicious smelling spaghetti to me, causing my stomach to rumble in anticipation. My mouth opens and then is assaulted by the amazing taste. My roommate might not be the best cook in the world, but he cooks some things very well. Spicy spaghetti is one of his best dishes and I love the hell out of it. I haven't eaten all day due to being a woman with far to much on her mind. Now I'm starved. "You better watch it, Mr. Oliver. A girl could get used to coming home to a clean apartment, a handsome straight roommate who thinks she's wonderful, and a hot dinner."

He's flashing me that gorgeous smile of his. "Wait a minute? You think that I think you're wonderful?"

"Of course you think I'm wonderful. Why else would you be spoon-feeding me the dinner you've been slaving over if not to please me?"

"Maybe I was hungry too?"

"So you performed a two-for-one deal. Good thinking." I angle my head due to his accursed height. He's waiting, so I give in. "It tastes great." When he moved closer my damn misbehaving hormones wrecked havoc with my composure. "Look, you've been sufficiently complimented. Now get back to finishing my dinner."

He shrugged off my sarcasm. "You, my dear Ms. Hart, are so lucky I find your bossy side so..."

"Endearing?" His hand brushed mine, and then his pinky finger curled around my own, tugging me with him back towards the kitchen.

"Beautiful."

I turned sixteen again that very instant, with my heart skipping a few beats before blazing at warp speed. There are just certain things in your life that touch you and always will in that strangely mysterious way that reminds you you're human. Way back in the day when we dated, his little nickname was the first time I ever truly saw myself as beautiful. And while I was young, naive, and holding on tight to my fairy tale dream of us together forever, whenever he used that word I turned to mush.

It's my emotional Achilles' Heel.

Even now tenderness welled up in my chest for him as he led me to the kitchen's island, and then before I could say a word he bent down and hooked his arms behind my knees. I was lifted up and perched on top of the island, with a clearly amused ex-super hero invading my personal space. Despite all the emotional upheaval of the last twenty-four hours, I feel a certain freedom tonight. But where that feeling will lead me is anyone's guess. "So do I get carried to bed later on?"

Using a nearby towel, he gently dried my face, and then slipped my shoes off. "Is that what you want?"

"That had better be some damn good spaghetti, if you catch my drift." As arousing as it is, and opposed as I am to this truth, I know Tommy loves me. Deeply loves me. His eyes betray... no, they're filled tonight with something he's not trying to hide. When he licked his lips my eyes closely tracked the movement. I'm hot wired into every little thing he does. "Did you miss me?"

A moment's pause... "No."

"Jerk." Smiling down at me, Tommy braced his hands on either side of my hips, while his pretty mouth is just too fucking close, temping me again. I'm sick and tired of fighting all of this unwanted need he inspires inside me.

"I tried to call you last night." A small note of worry crossed his face.

My hands dusted between us. "My cell phone thought it could fly."

Questions filled his eyes. "I get the feeling there's a funny story that goes along with that statement." His soft laughter is so intimate I can barely stand it. "Did you miss me?"

The knot in my throat thickened, killing my usual sarcasm. "I wanted you to follow me home."

His eyes narrowed, capturing my gaze. "You didn't answer the question."

"Didn't I?" We're so backwards and sideways, this relationship of ours. Sensual subterfuge, unspoken feelings, veiled statements, and rampant eye-sex best describe how we communicate. It's both exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. "So who were you talking to?"

Tommy picked up on my subtle changing of the subject. I don't think he liked it, but he's letting it go for now. He backed off, heading for the refrigerator. "Jason."

Mmm, he's got garlic bread. "How's my big brother doing?"

"Fine for the most part, but he's got a lot on his plate right now," Tommy sighed in a way that told me he knows more than he's willing to say. Men have their secrets, too. "He's in Santa Monica with his parents. He's still being quiet, but I can tell somethings wrong. I just told him whenever he wanted to talk about anything he could call me."

Tommy and Jason share a relationship deeper than brotherhood. I'm both envious and thankful for how close they are. "I'm going to try and reach him later on tonight. Usually I can guilt him into opening up. And I'm going to sic Trini on him, too."

"Sounds like a plan." Tommy's stirring and I'm appreciating the sight of his great ass. My in-house cook happens to be hot, yet another perk of having him as my roommate. His back is still to me when he asks, "How did your goodbye with Kat go?"

"About as well as yours." His smirk tries to lie to me, but I can't let him think he's getting away with anything. "I know you didn't sleep with her, so don't even try and pretend otherwise."

"I never said a word, but it's curious how you got that information." Turning off the stove, he puts a cover over the pot and then returns to me, hovering oh so close. "Was it killing you so badly that you just had to ask her?"

"Hardly," I offered in my defense. "Kat volunteered the information. Personally, I wouldn't have cared if you broke the bed making love to her in a way that was so hot it set off the fire alarms." I'm lying and he knows it, but this is how we play our game of cat and mouse. "We had a really nice, long talk. I feel like I know her so much better now. She's really amazing."

Tommy nods in agreement while searching my face for hints of whether or not I know more. "I honestly thought I'd be married to her by now. But life... you know."

I do, without saying. But if you had married her you wouldn't be here with me now. No matter the infinite possibilities the past might have held, I'm glad fate led us to this place and time. "Katherine told me about Sara."

Tommy seemed mildly surprised at best. "She's very careful about telling anyone. Not because she's ashamed, but because it's so new and personal. She must trust you a great deal."

"Maybe someone put in a good word for me."

"I told her I trust you with my life."

"But what about your heart?"

He's standing between my legs so close his warm breath fanned my face. The expression he wore was a mix of arousal and something uniquely somber. My stomach muscles contracted involuntarily. "I can't trust you with what you don't reach for."

Sarcasm tries to rise out of me, but I manage to tame it. I want to confess something to him that's poignant and meaningful. I want to not be afraid of what he makes me feel. I just want to feel like I can give my all to a man without over thinking everything and letting fear get the best of me again. I want to trust that a loving relationship can actually work. Instead of words, my pinky curls around his, connecting us once more. It's as much courage as I can muster.

My voice hovered barely above a whisper. "I don't know what to say."

Rain pounded loudly against the windows behinds us, charming the moment. Tommy's brown eyes bore down on me, searching for something elusive. "Then just stop talking."

Heat pumped through my veins the very instant his mouth covered mine, silencing any protest. I once again succumbed to his forbidden temptation, passionately kissing him back, smothering his lips with my own. My arms circled his neck, my nails drawing over the nape, clutching him tight to me. His fingers tangled in my hair while his body pressed hotly against mine, slowly crushing my inhibitions. I heard him moan, and then felt him throb... God almighty! As our tongues danced and tangled my insides quivered. I want to drown in this man's arms and never look back. I loved the way his warm, firm mouth made love to mine while his hands stroked up and down my spine, ghosting pleasure everywhere he touched me.

I'm not thinking about this kiss... this man I'm holding onto so tightly. I'm not going to question why this feels so damn good, or what the future holds. I'm going to live in the moment and accept that there just isn't anything in this world that can extinguish my hunger for this man.

Or my love.

Our unplanned make-out session draws to a soft close with our foreheads pressing together, gentle panting breaths between us. My eyes open first, greeting his loving gaze. We're still in each other's embrace, unwilling to let go. I dare to ask, "What are you thinking about right at this very moment?"

"Doing something I've never done in the kitchen before," he smiled evilly.

"What, wash dishes?" His head dipped as his soft laughter found amusement in my teasing. It's just our way. A sudden thunder crack rattled the windows as I took a deep breath. My hand came to rest gently over his chest, drawing lightly over his shirt. "Can we, just for one night, not think about this. I don't want to... I'm just..." I ducked my chin and sighed. "You make me feel so much it scares me."

His hand covered mine, comfortably over his heart. Poetic, I suppose. "The feeling is mutual, Kim. I hope you know that."

"I do." His lips curled into a wide smile as he seemed to understand me even when I'm not sure I do. That's a luxury I hope I never take for granted.

Tommy gave a quick glance over his shoulder at the stove before returning his attention to me. "Look, the spaghetti needs to cool off and I could probably use a shower. How about we watch some TV before dinner?"

His patience with me is one of the many reasons I'm so appreciative of having him in my life. I nod my thanks. "You're the best." He kissed me again, so easy and sweet. Even nibbled my lip at the end, which makes me bite at him. We share a snicker of sorts. And then his arms lift me off the island and slowly down his hard body, giving me all the evidence in the world that he desires me and isn't hiding a thing. Indulging and then running away is practically my trademark with men. I'm a certified tease and proud of it, but the longer I'm with Tommy, the more he breaks down all my walls.

Unfortunately for him... and myself, my emotional walls make the Empire State Building look like a Lego toy castle.

He pinky-finger tugs me toward our living room, and then down on our long beige sectional couch. I'm still feeling the tingles from our kiss, and with the storm raging outside and the warmth of his arms still clouding my senses, I'm half disappointed he didn't just pull me down in his lap. It would have been out of character and inappropriate and yet I wouldn't have minded one bit. I just need to be close to him tonight. And I am, seated right beside him with our shoulders touching. After a very emotionally stressful day I'm finally relaxed and happy enough to let go... at least a little bit. "So what are we going to watch, oh dearest roommie?"

After a long stretch of his arms, Tommy grabbed the remote off the coffee table, hit the guide button and started searching the channels. Like any man he covers all of them twice before deciding on a movie that makes me roll my eyes. A particularly Y-Chromosome sort of film. The world's most famous hockey-mask-wearing killer walks across the screen. "Tommy, please."

My ex gave me a look, grinning. "What? Friday the 13th part 4 is a classic. It's Jason Vorhees for crying out loud! And this was supposed to be the last one."

"Yeah, until they made like forty more. All of them terrible and following the same tired cliche. Except for the one when Jason went into space. That was cheesy to the extreme, although Rocky loved it."

"He's a big fan of cheesy," Tommy reminded me. On screen, the first of the Friday the 13th movie series' most time honored cliches began. My roommate shook his head in amusement. "Who in their right mind would skinny dip at night on the camp grounds where a mass murderer used to butcher people?"

My wit countered by offering, "What group of teenagers would think nothing of being attacked by a group of grey-spandex-wearing, gibberish-speaking retards and then get teleported to a tiny, cheap-looking base of operations decorated in Christmas lights, run by a big smoky face and a gay robot?"

"You think Alpha-5 was gay?" Tommy questioned me with a grin.

"Sweetheart, Alpha-5 and C-3PO liked the same sort of robots, if you catch my drift. They might have made a nice couple, actually."

"Sweetheart?" I looked away quickly when I realized I called him that, but he just kept right on smirking, the jerk. My slip of the tongue wasn't going to be ignored. "So I'm your sweetheart now?"

"No, you're my pain in the ass." Damn, stupid heart of mine trying to talk without my permission. And yeah, I am going a little batty. Suddenly the sound of screams fill the room courtesy of the movie. "How can that girl not outrun Jason? He's barely power walking and she's in sneakers and has at least a fifteen foot head start in front of him. Why does she keep looking back over her damn shoulders while running through a branch infested forest? It's like she wants to trip and fall." The girl trips and falls. "Now rather than kick Jason in the nuts, provided he has any, she just lies on the ground and screams as if some big strong man will save her." Jason raised his machete. "Now see, I would have kicked him in the nuts, rolled sideways and grabbed some dirt. Then I would have tossed it at his face. With that mask on his peripheral vision can't be that good and if he was temporarily blinded I would just run away and not look back. Or at least grab that big branch on the ground and stab him or hit him or something." Jason hacks the girl to bits. "Dumb bitch."

Tommy laughed, "Kim, such language."

My inner feminist roared, "That dead girl and almost every girl who died in a eighties horror movie made us all look bad. Sure, we had Ripley from Aliens and Sara Connor from the Terminator movies championing women's abilities to survive crazy stuff, but the Friday the 13th movies made all girls appear addicted to skinny dipping, look stupid, big-boobed, dim-witted, unable to leap an acorn without tripping over herself, and horny. Now, I know that's what you guys would prefer us to be like..."

"No comment."

"Why did you nod?"

"I didn't nod... I just angled my head."

"That better be what you did. I have you listed as one of the few shining examples of your sex." A slow grin spread across his face, matching my own. And then he did the cutest thing I've seen in like, forever. He went out of his way to perform the time honored male-teenager movie maneuver of an exaggerated yawn that saw his arm lift in the air, and then gently fall over my shoulder, cuddling me close to his side. "That was so cheesy I think you could get a job at Kraft."

"But it made you smile," he asserted.

"... a little." Nestled warm and safe against him, I couldn't resist lying my head on his shoulder. His head came to rest gently against my own, which made my bones turn to mush. Heavy raindrops peppered the terrace as the storm continued on, but here in our cozy apartment, we're just fine. His hand is resting on my thigh, while mine is on his. Afternoon is slowly giving way to night, just as our relationship is shifting before my very eyes.

How can I deny that this feels so right?

"So tell me about Cameron?"

Breaking through my mental haze, his question surprised me. The infamous and world renowned letter guy, as Zack christened him. "Why do you want to know anything about him?"

"Cause I'm already getting bored with Jason chopping teenagers to death," Tommy explained, his eyes gazing down at me. "I know his name, that you fell in love with him, and that he was the guy you wrote about in your Dear John letter. But I don't really know anything about him personally."

"Tommy, he wasn't a big deal or anything. And we are talking about a heck of a long time ago."

"I know that. But look, this is what people with history do. They talk about stuff that happened to them in the past. Especially stuff they both got over and can laugh about. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not harboring any ill feelings anymore about any of that. A decade's distance tends to heal most broken hearts, but I still can't help but to be curious about the guy you left me for. Especially since at the time I thought we were in a good place. And I loved you more than anything in the world."

Despite the sweetness of what he added at the end, guys are so weird sometimes in what they hold important and what means something to them. Nonetheless, his request isn't something major. Ten years is a long time to get past stuff. "Do you have specific questions or do you just want me to shoot off the top of my head?"

"Just tell me whatever you want."

He squeezed my thigh in a way that made me warm all over. My cheeks pressed to the soft fabric of his shirt. "Cameron was eighteen when I met him. You've seen a picture of him, so you know about his dark, short hair, his blue eyes, and those killer cheekbones." Tommy's snort made me smile. "Uhm, he was a marathon runner and could play the guitar really well. He was very talented. We had a lot of things in common."

"So no interest in martial arts, I take it?"

I shook my head while my fingers traced over his thigh. "Where you went left, he went right. Cameron was very social and enjoyed being the life of the party. He was focused on making the US Pan Global team, but never as obsessed with the sport as you and Jason were with martial arts. He just wasn't as intense, but he was so much fun. And I desperately needed fun to balance out the rigorous training I was going
through. Plus, he was from Nevada, so he was pretty far from home too. We were both homesick and I think that bonded us even more."

Despite the years and lives in our rear view mirror, I watched a deep sigh rack Tommy's body. I guess time doesn't determine what's important to anyone but you, yourself. "So did Cameron have a girlfriend back at home?"

"No, he had broken up with her before leaving for Florida," I explained. "Jennifer felt they were to young to be having a long distance relationship. She didn't want to be worrying about what he might be doing, and she was honest about not wanting to wait. So that was that."

"Did you ever worry about me cheating on you?"

As young as I was back then, I can't say I was naive in this belief. And his character since then has only validated my faith in him. "No, I never worried about that." Still, I had to amend, "but I did worry if you would begin to resent me for being away. And I knew Katherine wanted you. I didn't think she was the kind of girl to go after a guy who already had a girlfriend, but her interest wasn't hidden very well."

Tommy agreed with a nod, and then tilted his head and kissed me again, as if reminding that insecure teenager still inside me I was the only one he ever wanted. I cupped his cheek, deepening the kiss, loving every second of it. He's a drug I desperately want to feel coursing through my bloodstream, but fear becoming addicted to. The fire I'm playing with could torch the whole city.

I just don't give a damn tonight. Let it burn!

As the rain poured in earnest outside, I'm lost in this man behind closed doors. We break at the same time, our foreheads pressed together, our breaths mingling. The sheer lust in his eyes for me alone makes me want to purr. "Why don't you just ask the big question that's killing you?"

My challenge didn't offend him. If anything he respected it. "Was he your first?"

I was patient with my answer, fanning the flames of competition between us. "Yes." The fever of anticipation over his response coursed through me. Did all of this really happen over ten years ago or ten days?

Tommy's voice softened. "You must have really loved him."

Flashes of my first adult relationship passed through my mind's eye like an old black and white movie. "I did at the time. Cameron was a good guy and a gentleman. He never broke my heart. He just wasn't the one." Then I laughed. "Not that many girls find the one at age seventeen, mind you."

"I thought I had."

And right there I thought I was going to cry. Then he smiled that teasing expression of his and I laughed against the fabric of his shirt. The emotional games we play... "I'm sorry I ruined our fairy tale."

"I don't think the last page has been written yet, Kim."

I heard the smile in his voice. "Was that a proposal?" I replied saucily.

"For where I want you to sleep tonight, yes," he whispered warm over my lips, his hands now roaming my thighs in a thoroughly sensual way.

My breath caught, but I played it off well. "And where might that be?"

"In my arms," he declared before brushing my lips softly with his, "…under me," was followed by another slow, wet kiss, "…on top of me," his tongue swept over mine, and then he gave it a strong suck, "…curled around me."

I couldn't swallow the sudden knot in my throat, but I was desperately trying to swallow his tongue. Somehow, and don't ask me what happened, I'm straddled over his lap now fucking his mouth with mine, the sensuous sounds of our kissing drowning out the furious thunder storm rattling the windows. The sultry feel of his hands under my shirt, grazing my lower back, has me rocking on his lap... right over the part of him that's throbbing for me. A strong, steady warmth in my belly has me clutching him so tight.

Our kissing grew hot and urgent, with his hands all over me. My eyes were still shut when he panted, "do you want to talk about last night?" Breathlessly, I shook my head no. When I talk the fear sets in, and for once I just don't want to stop. "Are you sure you want this?" My hand descended between us, taking hold of his erection, pure confidence and verve shining on my face. "Do you want a commitment?"

"As long as you pay your half of the rent, I'm cool."

"Kim, I'm serious."

"I know you love me." His eyes widened as I invaded that dangerous, unpredictable territory of ours. Part of my heart was thrilled that he made no attempt to deny my claim. My mind's racing and I'm terrified of what I'll say next. And then he's nuzzling the side of my neck while his strong hands are making me so wet. My hand swept over his erection again, causing a harsh groan to erupt from his mouth. I gave him my best "take that" look.

His reply was to take us to the floor, lying his body over mine, braced hot between my legs. Moaning and frantic, biting kisses echoed hunger that saw us arching and grinding our lower bodies, dying from the pleasurable friction while needing so much more. My nails are raking over his back, tearing at his shirt, ravenous for the feel of his skin against mine.

My God...

I'm going to fuck him tonight.

It's a foregone conclusion. Every fantasy I've ever had about him is going to be brought vividly to life. "I love you," gasped from my lips.

I watched his eyes shut, and then his lips curl into a beautiful smile. "Say it again."

His finger traced over my lips. I kissed it when it passed by. "I love you."

His eyes shut and then reopened slowly. "Again."

My lips quirked in a devilish smirk. "I didn't use the 'in' word, you know."

"You didn't have to," he taunted before claiming my lips again, kissing the life out of me until he sat up with me in his arms, and then wrapped them around me until my feel left the floor. I'm losing my mind in his arms. I want him so bad I'm shaking. My tongue's swimming inside his mouth while my arms are wrapped around his neck. He's taking me to bed to finally make love to me and I'm sure we won't see daylight for the rest of the weekend.

Tommy stopped suddenly, his penetrating gaze was living proof that he was a walking, talking aphrodisiac. "All night long, Kim."

His promise came in a whisper, and by God I didn't have a doubt in the world he would live up to every orgasmic second of it.

When my feet finally touched ground, my eyes opened to discover we're in our bathroom and not his bedroom. I'm still breathless, watching Tommy back away from me. A second later he's pulling the shower curtain back, and then turning on the shower. "Your bedroom's that way," I teased, pointing out of the bathroom.

"We'll get there," he said while walking up to me, and then past to shut the door, sealing us inside. My hearts pounding in my chest. "We shouldn't rush this." His hands reached for mine, pulling me backwards with him towards the shower. "I want you to join me."

My tongue swept over my lips as I blushed furiously. Damn my fair complexion. "I might not be tall enough to wash your hair."

"You could if your legs were wrapped around my waist."

Did I just orgasm?

Nope, but I plan on rectifying that real soon.

"Tommy..." His name escapes my lips so shyly. "This is unexpected."

"No, this is taking our time," he reveled in saying, his hands massaging away my inhibitions. "This is foregoing a quick fuck for something grown and sexy. Don't tell me you don't want this. I know you do."

Denying that would be a joke. I could only nod, seemingly robbed of my trademark bravado. His hands drifted away from me, and then he tore his shirt off, tossing it to the floor. My eyes drank in every detail of his delicious upper body, all hard muscle and girl candy. He kept his eyes on mine when they traveled lower. I can't help but to stare at that part of him I've imagined a million times. That part of him I want passionately, and judging by its rigid state, it wants me just as badly. "Someone looks happy to see me."

Tommy smiled at my sarcasm. "It's your turn."

Facing his dare head on, I take my time unbuttoning my top while silently thanking God I wore sexy underwear today. He looked ready to pounce at every little inch of skin revealed when I peeled the garment open. That killed any insecurity I might of had. A second later my top pooled at my feet, leaving me in a strapless lavender bra and my most pouty expression. "Lose those pants. Now."

My voice sounded so bold, but on the inside I'm warm mush. Tommy wasted no time as he calmly slipped his belt from his pants, draped it over his shoulder for a moment, and then dropped it off his fingertips. The bastard took his time unbuttoning the one button on his jeans, and then unzipping around his rock hard erection. His piercing gaze held me captive when he shoved his jeans down his legs, and then stepped out of them. That prominent piece of flesh stole my attention hostage. He was so much man I couldn't even joke about it. "Impressive."

When he could have enjoyed my compliment, he seemed enthralled by just staring at me. I feel so sexy under his appreciation. "Don't make me wait any longer, Kim."

Steam began to lift from the shower, misting the glass above our sink. I swallowed hard. "Maybe I'm just building anticipation."

"I've wanted you since I was sixteen years old. That's practically half my life."

"What can I say? I'm a sucker for a long session of foreplay." His arms crossed his chest, impatiently waiting for me to stop playing games. Oh dear Tommy, that day will never come. But I won't either if I don't lose these clothes. His eyes graced over my torso while I undid the button on my pants. He groaned when I shimmied them down my legs, revealing a matching lavender thong to his hungry eyes. Stepping out of my clothes, I kicked them against the door. This slow revealing of ourselves is driving me mad, and yet I'm so aroused it doesn't make sense.

"I swear," Tommy spoke in a dark, desire-laden tone, "I'm going to bathe every square inch of your beautiful body," he slowly circled me, "…with my tongue."

I shivered at the mental image of his head between my thighs, sucking on me like a ripe piece of fruit. "You really know the way to a girl's heart."

"I've been trying to find my way to yours for over ten years."

"You've found me," I promised him. He invaded my personal space, slinking his arms around me again. I melted against his bare chest.

"Have I?" he asked tentatively, as if my answer would mean everything to him.

I want to protect myself, tell him the truth, and try to discover just what that truth is all at the same time. "I miss being yours," escaped from my heart against his chest. The shower's wet heat has nothing on what's happening between Tommy and I. We're a force of nature that can't be denied and tonight is THE night.

Tossing aside our game of back and forth, I boldly undid the clasp on my bra, allowing it to fall the floor, revealing more of myself to Tommy than I ever have before. I've thought a thousand different things in my head when I've taken my clothes off in front of men before, both beating myself up over my insecurities and what I thought were his expectations. But Tommy's dear face exposed only the immense depth of his love and desire. "Enjoying the view?"

"And loving the woman," he spoke quietly, as if in a bit of awe that we're finally tearing down the last of the walls between us. His thumbs hooked his boxers and then drug them down to his ankles before stepping out of them. When he rose back to his full height I was staring at the most gorgeous dick I have ever seen. Now truthfully, I've only seen six others. But his... long, hard, throbbing... Mercy, please don't let my inner dork say anything stupid. "Well hello there."

Dammit!

Tommy didn't laugh as much as grin, but he was enjoying the moment. Quietly, as that's his way. "I'm up here, Kim."

I can't help but to snicker at that one. He's poised so close to me and I'm next. "You ready for this big reveal, Handsome?"

He swallowed hard. "I've been ready for so many years."

I carefully pulled and tugged my socks off.

"You are such a tease," he accused me, this time unable to resist laughing.

"Well since you've wanted me for so many years, how about you do the honors of unwrapping your greatest fantasy." A sense of triumph swept through me when it was his turn to appear shy. Nonetheless, his thumbs hooked in the sides of my panties on my hips. He knelt before me while dragging them down so slowly, his eyes hungry... dark with lust. I felt his warm breath fanning the soft, moist curls between my thighs. I've never felt so exposed, or so wanton, in my entire life. And the tempting visual of him on bended knee before me wasn't lost on me, either. "Are you going to propose, go down on me, or try Option 3?"

Tommy never uttered a single word. My belly trembled when he pressed his mouth there, and then began methodically kissing his way up my chest, between my breasts, and over my neck until his lips slipped wet over mine. Our arms circled each other, locking our bodies together. My feet left the floor when he lifted me over the tub and settled us behind the shower curtain.

Steaming hot sprays drenched us with its liquid caress.

I gave him one hungry, hard kiss after another while his hands cupped and kneaded my ass. His cock swelled against my belly, causing my toes to curl the same way his tongue did around mine. The feel of my nipples grazing his chest was so good it had me whimpering in his arms. Under the hot water's spray every sensual glide, every soft stroke burned us from the inside out. My back arched sharply when he began sucking on my tongue, drawing on his powerfully. My right leg curled around his, and then I'm being lifted up against the wall... the cool tile in contrast with the hot shower's rain.

All caution, all reason, and all sanity have fled my mind. I'm running on sensation and passion alone.

"Kim," he groaned over my neck, his strong arms settling my body against his and the wall in a tangle of wet flesh and hot desire. "What do you..."

"Fuck me," I begged him softly, droplets of water cascading down my lips.

There, I said it and I'm so ready to... now who in the hell is banging at our door?!!! ARE THOSE FIRE ALARMS I HEAR?

THIS IS NOT HAPPENING!!!!

NOT NOW!!!


Ariana Davidson's apartment
3rd floor
251 W 58th St
Sunday, April 8, 4:40 PM 2008
New York City, New York

"Kim, have you lost what was left of your mind?"

Now that's just the reaction I expected. While sitting at Ari's kitchen table nursing my Starbucks addiction, I finally confessed why I've been in a mood all day long while we were out shopping. Now I realize I should have kept my big mouth shut. Suffice to say, I'm being read the riot act over what I did yesterday. Great, just great. I can't seem to win this week. "I still think Tommy's overreacting a little."

Hands on her hips, Ari circled the table, centering her Evil-Eye upon me. "Can you honestly sit there and tell me you aren't surprised Tommy is pissed off as hell at you?" my bestest gal pal in the Big Apple questioned while pointing her frosted donut at me. I shrug cause, you know, that's what I do. Especially when asked questions about my roommate slash ex-boyfriend slash almost lover. "You are now the Supreme Queen of mixed signals."

"Ari, an apartment four floors above us caught on fire at the exact moment Tommy and I were about to do it. We had to evacuate the building immediately. I'm sorry, but I think that's destiny telling me in big, bold neon letters that I was about to make a huge mistake. And I've made plenty, so I know what they look like."

"Tell me, dear Ms. Hart? Was destiny telling you something different when you were naked in the shower with your legs wrapped around Tommy's heavenly torso and your back was pressed against the wall about to finally get some after a drought that would make the Sahara Desert envious?"

The heat flash that just flew through me courtesy of remembering yesterdays almost sex with Tommy left me a bit flushed. We were so close and it would have been so damn good... Swallowing hard, I down another drink of my iced coffee and try to formulate a coherent response. "Destiny was locked out the room at that time." Yeah, that sounds sane.

Now if Ari would just look at me like I wasn't insane. I'm not. I'm just a bit of a emotional mess. And that donut she's eating looks so good. I should of gotten me one.

Folding her arms across her chest, Ari fixed her gaze on me. "You and I both know Tommy's a good guy?"

"I never said he wasn't."

"And you've told me many times how good he treats you, how much you trust him, and how important he is to your mental health and stability."

"I could say the same thing about Captain Crunch too. I used to love that cereal as a kid."

"You admitted to me that he gets you hot."

"So does my naked firemen of New York calendar."

"And you told you were jealous when he slept with whatshername."

"I deny that charge."

"And you don't sleep around."

"I'm no ho." I smiled, "Hey, that rhymes."

Ari wasn't having any of my BS today. "After being that intimate and so close to making love how could you pull a disappearing act, stay away from the apartment until almost midnight and not even call Tommy to explain why you flaked out? And this better be one good explanation. No, you need a near biblical explanation."

Oh crap. How do I defend the indefensible? Really, I can't. Tommy and I dressed as fast as we could, racing out the apartment for our lives. As it turned out, the fire was so small that we were allowed back inside the apartment building later that night. But once I was outside cold reality slapped me upside the head. Or maybe it was fear. I confuse them at times. Either way I felt the sheer weight of what was about to happen between Tommy and I overwhelm me. I suddenly couldn't breath. So I snuck away to my car and drove off.

Yeah, I know I suck.

Of course we want each other. But to make this roommate thing we work can't be fooling around. Couple that with the fact that I am relationship poison to the degree that my drivers license should come with the skull and crossbones symbol overlapping a heart on the front. Add to that his friendship means the world to me. And this sounds like the same song I've been singing for months now. I so need a new tune.

Whatever is wrong with me, I'm terrified. Horrifically terrified. Love is wonderful, sweet, sexy, comforting, and ultimately doomed in my eyes. Its just a matter of time. And now Tommy isn't even speaking to me. Can't say I blame him. If the shoe were on the other foot, and with my fashion sense that would be a killer heel with... damn, I can't even ramble on in my own head without getting off track.

Ari's losing her patience with me. "Kim, are you gonna answer?"

My fingernail just goes right on tapping my cup. "I'm afraid of losing him... and myself." The quietly somber words escape my lips as mysterious as ever. How do I make someone understand what barely make sense to me? "I don't know how to explain what I feel for him, Ari. It just feels like I'm suffocating every time I let him get close to me. And I know I'm sending him mixed signals. I know that. He deserves better. There's one part of me that longs for him so much in every way. But there's another part..."

"That's nuts?"

"I call it Insane-Kim logic, but yes. I might be just a little nuts." Ari smiled and then took a seat next to me. Her arm wrapped over my shoulder in support. Who but another women could possibly understand the outrageously conflicted emotions we feel. And after a moment of staring at her frosty donut she broke it in two. Now that's a best friend. "I love the frost."

"And Tommy," she asserted rather than asked me. I offer no rebuttal, enjoying the donut. She knows me to well.

After finishing off my Starbucks, I stretched my legs out under the table. "I'm going to apologize to him when I go home, alright."

"How can you apologize for what you did when you can't explain to him why?" See, that's a grown up question. No two ways about it. I wish I had an answer. "You're going to need to to do some major repair work if you hope to salvage anything with him. And let's be honest, Kim. Deep down in your heart of hearts, you want more than friendship."

I don't but I do. When I'm lonely I want him near. When he's near I want him closer. And when he gets closer I... I need him close enough to heal my heart as only he can, but far enough away so that if I need to run he won't catch me. Complicated much? "I never said that."

"You didn't have too. Its written all over your face." Ari pointed to my forehead. "I'm in love with Tommy. See, its right there."

"No it isn't."

"Is too."

"Is not!"

"You love him. Confess?!"

"No!"

"Confess you love Tommy!"

"I LOVE FRUITY PEBBLES CEREAL!"

Yeah, I'm nuts. And did I just shout that? Ari's never letting me in her apartment again. Did she just move her chair a little. "Are you near a nervous breakdown?"

"No, I passed that point of no return a month ago. This is full blown Meltdown-Kim in all her complex glory."

"Stop running, Kim," Ari noted seriously, touching my hand. "Whatever it is you're running from, stop. Before its to late."

Wise words for certain. I give her a nod to acknowledge that I get where she's coming from. I've made a mess of things and now I have to face the consequences. At least I have a great friend I can air out my craziness with and know she still loves me. "Don't worry, I'm not about to shave my head and go all Britney Spears nuts, okay."

"Good to know." Ariana hugs me a second time and then took a glance at her watch and scowled. If looks could kill her ex-husband John would dead already. "I can't believe he's three hours late," she noted angrily, shaking her head as he disappointed her son yet again. For her, that's an unforgivable sin. "Jason was looking forward to spending time with him so much. He talked about it all day yesterday. I told John how much his son misses him. I swear I could kill the man."

Ariana's had every sort of problem with her ex-husband a woman could have. But her son's precious heart longs for a father. The problem is that the one he has is lousy to say the least. "John hasn't left any messages at all?"

"You were with me all day, so you know he didn't call my cell. And I checked the home number as soon as we walked in the door." To keep Jason's mind off his dad we took him shopping with us, but he's a bright little boy. He's only six, but he knows something is wrong. "John's educated and has a great job. His father was wonderful. I just don't get why he treats his only child like this. It's as if he's missing some sort of parent gene. Personally, I could care less if he got hit by a bus tomorrow. But my son loves his Dad despite only seeing him twice a week. John's choice, not mine."

"Jason has the best mom in the world in you, and someday you'll meet a wonderful man who'll love Jason like he's his own son. Until then Jason will have a wonderful life. It's John who's missing out."

"Tommy's still single, right?" She had the nerve to wiggle her brows at me.

"Not in a million years," I laughed.

"You won't admit you're in love with him and dying to make little karate-kicking Tommy's..." My eyes just about bulge out their sockets. "But you won't share the tastiness that is Mr. Oliver with the rest of us lonely, horny, gainfully employed New York females."

"Tommy belongs to me. There, I said it. Are you happy?"

"No, but you could of been if you would have just boned his brains out like any normal girl would have."

"I am normal, dammit. I'm just... sorta wacky." Ari's cracking up big time. "But that's not my fault. I blame men for all my issues. And so far that excuse has worked out pretty well for me."

"And the crazy thing is I know you're not on drugs." I elbowed her just for the heck of it. Ari lifted her Starbucks cup. "To surviving the insanity men inspire in us."

I toasted her cup with my own. "Amen, sister."

Having spent most of my day out and about avoiding the humongous elephant in the room at my apartment, its time I cowboy'd up as my dad would say and dealt with the mess I've made. "It's time for me to face the music, Ari."

"Sounds like a good idea. Just remember that good guy's have tender hearts too," she smiled. "We might rag and joke about men all the time, but when you have a good one you have to take great care of that relationship. And I think your Tommy, he's a good one. A real keeper."

"So tell me what to do?" I sighed, rising to my feet. "I don't have all the answers yet."

"Tell him the truth. You're scared and you're sorry. And then tell him what he means to you."

"And if that doesn't work?"

"Look, that's option two. As far as I'm concerned you need to pin that man to the nearest flat surface as soon as you see him and ride his fine self all the way to happy town."

I'm laughing so hard on my way to Jason's bedroom to say goodbye to the sweetest little boy on Earth. He leapt off his bed at me with his Wii controller dangling from his wrist, asking his Auntie Kim to play with
him. I had to play a game or two dealing with rabbits attempting to take over the world. With video games these days, go figure. I grew up with a fat Italian plumber jumping on peoples heads, so I have nothing to laugh at. After helping him beat a boss I smothered him with kisses and a promise of ice cream next weekend, and then walked out of his bedroom.

I waved at Ari on my way out. "I'll call you later on tonight."

"Good. I'll want details. Especially of the naked variety."

Ariana's one track mind matched my own so perfectly. "Try not to let John ruin the rest of your day, alright? Get yourself a glass of wine and watch a good movie. As long as Jason is with you he'll be fine. You're an amazing mom."

Her lovely brown eyes conveyed she may have needed to hear that more than she could admit. "Thanks. You're remarkable too. Crazy, but remarkable."

A final hug and I'm out the door and heading for the staircase. The elevator's broken, yet another that seems to hate me, so I'll get my cardio workout this way. Its not until I reach the first floor that I run into John the jerk. His sneering expression upon seeing me clearly said he knows he's dead as soon as he reaches Ariana's apartment. "You could have called."

"Sorry, are you my ex-wife or the mother of my child?" He shook his head, having the nerve to smirk.

"Thank God I'm neither of those, but I am a good friend of Ariana and your son. The same son that thought he was spending the day with you. The same one I heard asking about you all day long with tears in his eyes." John rolled his as if talking to me was a waste of his time. "Look, I don't have the right or time to give you a lecture, but I love Ari and Jason. If you couldn't make it or something serious came up you could have called. Adults are used to being disappointed, but children don't know how to deal with it."

"Something came up, alright."

"That's fine. Its between you and Ari, but she needed to know hours ago. Its a respect thing, John. She's due that."

His eyes gave me the once over and I'm sure he's yet again mentally bitching out Ariana over having a white friend. I've been told he's not too fond of what he perceives as her "selling out" now that she's
so successful. "I'll take care of my son and my business, thank you very much."

I can tell he's angry and I don't want to fight. Fighting won't solve anything. "Look, just consider that Ariana has a full-time job and is a full-time mom. She needs you to keep your promises and keep in contact with her. I'm not trying to judge you. I care about Ari and Jason a great deal. So instead of getting an attitude with her, think of your son first. He needs you. He needs to know he can count on you. And the type of man he becomes will be greatly influenced by you. Just think about that, alright."

Walking away, I leave him alone with his thoughts while silently thanking my dad for being so wonderful even when he and my mom divorced.


115 West 57th Street
In front of Tommy and Kimberly's apartment building
Sunday, April 9, 6:20 PM 2008
New York City, NY

My drive home is so peaceful while listening to the CD of soft jazz music Zack made for me that I'm taking the long way just to cruise this great city. The Big Apple on a beautiful spring Sunday evening is quite a sight to behold. Of course I'm also avoiding my inevitable confrontation with Tommy like the plague as well. How in the world did I get myself into so much drama in the last seventy-two hours? Oh well, while my resolve to sincerely apologize hasn't wavered, deep down I'm terrified I've finally pushed him so far away... That in itself is a contradiction. I don't even know where I want him in my life, only that I do. And as the questions concerning my personal life continue to mount I'm beginning to get worried that something is truly wrong with me.

While I freely admit I'm kinda jaded about the numerous wrong turns I've made where men are concerned, my own responsibility lies in choosing the ones who I knew I could lose without suffering another
heartbreak. When it comes to "playing the game" of romance I'm bold and a world-class flirt. I'll often make the first move just so I can always be in the drivers seat. And after the fun is over I'm ready to jump off the ride as soon as he's ready to commit. I don't ask myself why that happens as I already know the answer.

I don't think I believe in true love ever working out in the end. Sad, but true. And I wish I felt otherwise.

I think my cynical side has taken over to a degree that I just want my close male friends, my band mates, and a hot guy or two for kicks. No more than that. If I need a man's honest opinion or a shoulder to cry on I have five best-friend brothers, an actual blood brother, and a good father to be there for me. There's a person missing there and we all know who he is. See, I don't count Tommy as one despite writing that stupid letter years ago. He isn't now and has never been a brother to me.

Of course what exactly he is alludes me as well. But hey, I only have so many answers. And I think I'm coming off my frosty donut high.

I also know myself well enough to see my own faults, of which there are many. I'm so far away from perfect its a wonder I can even spell the word. But after Tommy, I've never cheated on another boyfriend. I haven't made a practice of jumping from relationship to relationship either. I've never, ever gone after a guy who I knew was already in a relationship. I don't toy with guys hearts by allowing them to fill with wedding bell wishes and forever dreams. And I can honestly say I've only had a single one-night stand way back in my junior year of college when I first discovered the wonders of Vodka. I don't sleep around and can still count all the lovers I've had without finishing off two hands. Its not that I'm promiscuous or dying to play the field. I want a loving, passionate, committed relationship like every other woman. I'm just not so sure anymore they exist, and if they do, I'm not sure I'm capable of being in one.

Tommy is though. Despite his many, many flaws when it comes to love he's in one hundred percent. There are no doubts with him where his heart is concerned. I think he's one of the five-percentile males who is built with the "don't cheat," "remain a gentleman at all times," and "tell the truth" chips. But as wonderful as that is, if the world is in danger and needs a hero, not only will he step up to the challenge, he'd want to be at the forefront of it. Whatever else there is in his life will take a back seat. He can't distance himself from the danger zone. And as flawed as I am with men, he's fractured between balancing a normal life versus craving the excitement and thrills his spirit calls out for.

He'd give me or any other woman so many restless, scared nights of worry. Its the price we'd pay for the love he's capable of.

Do you know what the truth of the matter is? Tommy and I are both so royally messed up its a wonder we want each other at all. On the outside people think we're attractive enough to look at, but if they had a clue of the complex insanity going on the inside they might run off screaming at the top of their lungs. Maybe that's what draws us together, us being chameleons and all. It's easy for me to admit that I want him. My body longs for him. My soul needs him. My heart is so greedy and possessive of him the mere thought of him with another woman makes my blood boil. But my head won't let it happen. It hasn't let it happen with anyone in my entire adult life.

So now I'm faced with the daunting task of trying to mend the most precious relationship I have while not being able to fully explain why I'm acting this way. Damn female hormones. If I were a man and Tommy were Tammy or Tina I would have spent a blissful weekend naked and rocking his... her world. Okay, that thought just went a strange place. I need a drink or something.

Upon turning down my street I catch sight of Tommy sitting on the front steps of our apartment building for some strange reason. He never just sits outside, so that piqued my interest. He's in all black today, rugged and sexy. How can a man look that good when he's mad? Or maybe I just have it that bad for him. Of course he's as frustrated as I am after last night. Jesus, I was so ready to finally break up with my battery-operated boyfriend and taste some real action again.

I can't believe I'm still in Armageddon date-mode. And I need new batteries. It truly sucks to be me.

A moment later I'm pulling up and parking in front of my building, but I don't get out right away. It's deep breath time. I can do this. I have to do this. And I won't lose him.

I can't.

After a minute or two more I finally vacate the safe shelter of my car while measuring my steps toward Tommy. He's staring past me, still angry as he was when I left earlier. This isn't going to be easy. "You didn't by any chance lock yourself out of our apartment, did you?" I pressed in a teasing tone.

"The apartment felt stuffy, so I came out here for some fresh air. And I ordered a pizza for dinner," he replied without much feeling while seated on the second to last step.

"Did I hear you correctly? The self-proclaimed health nut ordered a greasy, cholesterol-deadly pizza?" My arms cross while I'm standing in front of him, desperately trying to break through his cold demeanor. "The world must be coming to an end."

"It would be if you had just started this conversation with an apology instead of acting like everything is alright between us... when it isn't."

Ouch, but I deserved that. He's not going to give an inch. It's time for me to step up to the plate. "Tommy, I am sincerely sorry for flaking out on you last night and disappearing like that. I don't know what came over me, but you didn't deserve it. I'm not playing games with you. I... I just don't know what's wrong with me."

He's searching my face for sincerity. The doubt that implies hurts. "I've heard enough of that, Kim. We're too old to be taking two steps forward and three steps back."

"You're right," I confessed with a slow nod, and then moved in closer. My face suddenly brightened with a smile when for once I was face-to-face with him as he was sitting down. My accursed height never leveled the playing field. I could tell he thought the same thing when he tried to suppress a grin of his own. Whenever we're this physically close he has such a strong emotional effect on me. And even when he's angry with me his eyes betray wanting me. "I am sorry, Tommy. I mean it."

"Prove it," he challenged wearing a hint of a smirk.

I'm blushing all of a sudden. He's been making my stomach flutter since before I got my drivers license. "How?"

"Tell me why you ran?" My gaze fell even as he pursued it. "If you respect me like I think you do you'll explain yourself. You have to help me understand why you did it."

My subtle attempt to use his attraction for me to change the mood has fallen by the wayside. I guess it's grown-up Kim time. Sighing, I take the bottom step between his legs and sit down. I feel the gentle weight of his chin on my shoulder, patiently waiting for me. I hate admitting this, but... "I'm broken." There, I said it. Now its out in the open. Can I go somewhere and cry now? "I'm... I have never been able to truly let a man into my life. Not all the way in romantically. And I don't know why. Even when I'm in love I just can't seem to give enough of myself to make things work."

When his arms wrapped around me from behind I gave a half-hearted attempt to pull away, but my heart just wasn't in it. I settled back against him, safe, secure, and comforted by his warm embrace. He has an eternal soft spot for me that I pray never goes away. "I don't want to be this way, Tommy. And its not just been with you. My other relationships have been the same way. I flirt, fall for the guy, have some fun, and then when things get heavy I'm ready to bolt. That's how I am."

"Kim," he caressed my name so tenderly when he said it, and then pressed a whisper of a kiss on my temple. "No one's proposing to anyone here, alright? We don't have to rush into anything. Casual is fine so long as we are both on the same page. I wasn't angry that we didn't make love. If you felt rushing into sex wasn't a good idea I can deal with that. I would have just taken another shower, albeit much colder and longer than the one we shared," he laughed softly against my ear. I wish I could wake up every morning to that dear sound. "Normal people, when they've kissed and confessed feelings and almost made love see that as a clear sign that somethings happening between them."

"Normal?" i just about shouted. "I'm not sure what that is anymore."

"Its different for everyone," he calmly explained. "I haven't felt normal since I arrived in Angel Grove all those years ago. Not since I tried to kill you and all your friends not even a day after I met you." That dark memory still gives me the chills. I know he feels the same way. "When Prince Gasket tortured me until something in my mind broke and I almost killed my friends again, it was another reminder of how far from normal my life
was. But when it comes to our most important relationships in life we have to work harder to get past our personal issues. And I'm willing to do that for you."

"I don't want to be this way, Tommy."

"Then don't be." His right arm crossed my chest, snuggling my back against him. I'm surrounded by his affection and I love it more than I can say. "You can make the decision to change, Kim."

"I've tried before."

"Those other men weren't me."

I guess I don't need any more evidence. He's knows my deep, dark secret. He's heard the hidden whispers in my heart I try to avoid ever listening too. And if I'm perfectly honest, I know who I am to him. One day I hope to be brave enough to embrace it. "So you think you're special, huh?"

When I shifted my body just a little he flashed me that devastating smile of his. "No, just yours."

Awwww. Damn my hypnotic attraction for him. Damn my weakness for cheesy romantic lines that make me want to curl like a kitten in his lap. "You just said that to get me horizontal."

Tommy snickered again, shaking his head. "I hope you don't think horizontal is the only position I have in mind where you are concerned, Ms. Hart."

He's my irresistible urge. I suddenly had the childish notion to stomp his foot. "Touché."

"So let's do this right," he noted before stealing a loving kiss that left my lips tingling. "Let's go upstairs and when the pizza comes we'll have dinner and a bottle of wine. Then we can seriously talk about dating. Not getting married and having children or anything that monumental. Just ordinary dating. Simple, casual dating, alright?"

Uh oh, panic attack! That's when my throat tightened and I swallowed hard, as if I'm choking. He wants dating to lead to more and that's... dammit. "Can't we just start over and wipe the slate clean?"

"No," he answered immediately. I felt him stiffen against me. "Kim, no more ignoring things. Let's just deal with everything and move forward."

Unconsciously, I can feel my legs moving to stand as well as Tommy following my every move with his eyes. I turned to face him, suddenly nervous. "Why can't we start new?"

"Because you aren't talking about us, you're talking about acting as if nothing happened and going back to the status quo of flirting all the time. Well I'm tired of that. It doesn't get us anywhere. We've been roommates for months now. We have trust and passion and love of some kind I'd like to explore the definition of. This is special to me and I'm willing to go very slow and give you your freedom to date other guys and all that if you need it. But we have to give us a real shot. That's what adults do."

Even as my heart understood, my mind turned the words upside down. I felt like I wasn't hearing what he truly meant. "So if it's not your way it's no way?"

Tommy sighed and then bowed his head. "Better than being toyed with."

God dammit, here we go again. "Toyed with? Is that what you think I'm doing."

"What else could it be?"

"I don't want to hurt you on purpose."

"Then stay and lets try again." His brown eyes held mine captive, but when I turned away he snorted angrily. A coldness settled in between us. "Sometimes I can't stand the sight of you."

My teeth bit my bottom lip to keep it from trembling. I felt crippled and angry, so much so I'm near tears and I don't know why. I clutched my car keys tightly. "Enjoy your pizza. Now I need some air."

"There you go running off again."

"Fuck you!" I snarled at him.

"It would be so easy to hate you."

"Not as easy as it is for me to walk away from you." We're staring at each other while falling apart at the seams. I don't have it in me to fix this right now. I don't know how. And the price I will pay is losing him. Why am I so screwed up inside? Why does he encompass every part of my life, and yet I won't let him in?

Silence led me back to my car, brushing away an errant tear out of his sight. Nonetheless, I felt his gaze on me the whole way. I'm driving before I even realize it, speeding around the corner on our street, my music blaring. My destination, who knows or cares. I just need to get awa...

OH MY GOD!

A massive red semi-truck just slammed head-on into the dark blue Nissan Altima in front of me with such force the entire front end buckled, lifted, and almost toppled the car backwards onto mine. My feet hit the breaks while my heart was in my throat. The screeching, horrible crunch of metal stopped traffic in both lanes cold. Everything in the world slowed down.

Jesus, the car in front of me...

I'm on my cell phone a second later calling 911. I'm out of my car in a flash, now working with four other people who came out of nowhere to see what we can do to help the people in either of the two cars. My eyes caught sight of two women gasping at the sight of the man driving the red semi. His front windshield right where the drivers seat was is cracked. No air bad was deployed. He wasn't wearing a seatbelt and his head was bent at a terrible angle. I can make out blood stains... I don't think he made it. He came out of nowhere and had to be driving incredibly fast.

The passenger in the Altima was thankfully wearing her seat belt. I managed to help a guy get the woman out of the drivers side while the older woman in the passenger seat was helped by Tommy and another stranger. I don't know how he got here so fast, but he assisting with first aid. The elderly woman was unconscious.

Minutes faded away as police sirens and ambulances quickly surrounded the crash area.

I'm standing by Tommy staring at the total wrecked front end of the Altima, as well as the two people being taken away on stretchers. The driver is hurt very badly. I'm not sure she's alive. Then the police ask for my statement and I give it so erratically, but Tommy holds my hand the whole time. My God, I could have died. If that Altima hadn't turned the corner just before I did I wouldn't of been able to get out of the way of that semi either.

Moving in a daze, I only know that Tommy's by my side the whole time. As evening gently gave way to night I'm in the passenger seat of my car as Tommy's driving me home. We haven't said a word to each other, but his touch has offered more comfort than anything he could ever say. I'm reminded as he opens the door for me that all the petty bullshit in the world doesn't matter. Life and death are all that matters. And tonight my death was a second away.

What would I have left behind?

Tommy's visibly trembling, evidence enough that he's still shaken up about things. We parted on such harsh words and if those were the last things we'd ever said to each other that would have been horrible. We mean to much to each other for things to end that way.

Walking up the stairs to our buildings entrance, Tommy opened the door for me, his hand gently at the small of my back. We're both edgy and quiet. Things between us have never been more intense, and after our fight we're lost on where to go from here. Why can't things ever be easy for us? Why am I so screwed up I can't welcome him into my life with open arms?

We entered the elevator alone and I pressed for the fourth floor, my hand trembling the whole time. His warm hand curled around mine and then I'm gently tugged against his chest. My head bowed over his shoulder, eyes shut. I sighed in relief, nestled against him. My fist clutched at his shirt as tears filled my eyes. My voice hitched when I begged him, "Please don't give up on me."

His arms tightened around me, with his hand gently cupping the back of my head. I could feel his steady heart beat, the rhythm soothing me. He whispered, "I couldn't if I tried."

I've never been so grateful. "I love you."

"I know."


The End of Chapter 6

(Closing credits roll while voice over previewing the next episode begins)

"In the weeks to come leading to the scandalous season finale of 'The Glory Days' expect suprises galore... fast moving images of Aisha, Kira, Connor, Kimberly's mother, The Craniacs, a night club brawl, a desperate hunt for a wedding dress, and an elevator ride you'll never, ever, provided NBC allows us to air it, forget!!!!"

Suggested listening music for Episode 6:

"It's My Life" – Bon Jovi

"Remember" – Keisha Cole

"Time After Time" - Eva Cassidy

"You Remind Me" - Nickleback

"Beautiful Liar" - Beyonce featuring Shakira

"I Don't Wanna Be" - Gavin Degraw

"I Wish It Would Rain" - Phil Collins