The Ghosts That Haunt Me, Chapter 3

"I think I need more Merlot for this story." She started for the kitchen, and Fritz grabbed her by the arm. "Brenda, you have had two bottles over the past few hours. I think that's enough." He had concern in his eyes.

"I'll compromise with you. I'll just have one more glass and that's it. I have a real high tolerance for wine, Fritz, because I drink it every day. Good for your heart and all that. So goin' through two bottles since 7:00"—she looked down at her watch—"for heaven's sake, It's almost 10. I've been talkin' for two straight hours?" She looked at Fritz.

"Yea, you have, and I have appreciated everything you've told me, Brenda," Fritz said, standing up and wrapping his arms around her. "I know how difficult this is, and it means so much to me that you are sharing your past with me." He stroked her hair.

She leaned her head against his chest, struggling with her next words. "With you, I feel more comfortable talkin' about these things, which I never thought I would. I'm tellin' you stuff I've never told anyone before." Fritz held her even tighter and sighed, kissing her forehead.

"Brenda, that makes me feel so honored, it really does," he said, emotion in his voice. He pulled her away from him and looked into her eyes. "You know that you can tell me anything and it won't change with way I feel about you, okay? I mean that. I'm just having some violent urges toward Hart right now, which I think is a manly testosterone reaction, but I think I can control it." He stroked her cheek.

She disengaged from him and headed to the kitchen and opened another bottle of wine. "One more glass and that's it, I promise," she said to Fritz over her shoulder. He nodded assent.

"Only if you promise to sit next to me on the couch when you come back to the living room, okay?" Brenda nodded.

Full glass in hand she sat on the far end of the couch so could rest her back against the arm and face Fritz. She took a large gulp of Merlot before she sat it down on the coffee table.

"Where was I. Oh yea, recently divorced. The IA inquiry lasted two months, and then I was cleared of all charges and allowed to go back to work. John had been transferred to another division, which I guess was for the best. But there were a lot of rumors flyin' around, and people looked at me funny. Several of the men in the precinct asked me out, knowin' I was divorced and guessin' that I must be pretty easy. I made it very clear to anyone who approached me that I have no interest in dating a fellow cop, so they better back off. It was really awful, basically non-stop sexual harassment for the first several months I was back. And then people kinda forgot, but I never got the respect from my peers that I had before. My squad was great and gave me a lot of support. Oh, to have that now," she sighed.

"So anyways, about a year after all this mess, I was out at a bar with a friend of mine, just shootin' the breeze, not lookin' for anything. Patty was married, and I had sworn myself to celibacy. The waiter came over and brought me a glass of Merlot I didn't order, and said it was from the gentleman at the bar. I mean, how trite can you get. I looked over him and smiled, accepted the wine because, well, wine is a horrible thing to waste. The guy was good lookin,' but I wasn't interested. I was there to spend time with my girlfriend. A few minutes later the guy came over to me and introduced himself. His name was Peter Kelly*. He said that he didn't mean to interrupt our conversation, but he thought I looked like a very intererestin' woman, and he would love to take me out to dinner some time. He smiled and left me his business card, with his phone number on the back. He said it was up to me to give him a call, but he would really love to hear from me. Then he smiled and left.

"Well, Patty was so excited you woulda thought the guy left his card for her and not me. She then went into this long spiel about how it was time I got back to datin,' that I'm wastin' the best years of my life workin' all the time, and it can't hurt to call the guy and at least talk to him. The only way I got out of that bar and away from Patty was to promise her I'd call him the next day."

"Did you?" Fritz asked. "And if you did, how many glasses of Merlot did you drink to work up the courage?"

"Of course I called him, Fritz, or this would be a very short story. And I think I had only two glasses of wine, but I can't honestly remember. And stop makin' fun of me for havin' a drink or two to get through a tense conversation. I'm not good at talkin' to people if it's not work-related, if you haven't noticed." She frowned at him.

"I'm sorry Brenda, I didn't mean to sound judgmental. Go on."

She sighed. "So yea, I called the guy the next evenin' on his cell, and we talked for awhile. He seemed nice enough, and I could see from his business card that he worked for one of the major law firms in Atlanta, so he probably wasn't a psycho. I agreed to have dinner with him the following night. And one dinner led to another, and to another." Brenda reached down and took another swig from her glass.

"Peter was nice, very suave. He was genuinely interested in what I did, and was impressed that I was the head of Homicide. I mean, Hart always acted like he was a little embarrassed that his wife had a more important job, and made more money, then him. But Peter thought it was great I was high up in the Atlanta PD. He was a few years older than me, never married. He was funny and smart, and I had a fun time with him. He seemed to have been raised to respect women. Or at least I thought so at the time.

"Long story short, we dated for about six months. He understood the nature of my job and the long hours, because he worked long hours too. He never got upset if I had to cancel a date because of a homicide, he would just wish me luck and said he would catch me later. Everything was nice and loose, no commitment. And I have to admit, it was good to have a boyfriend around, someone to spend time with, and, well, you know." Brenda blushed. "I wasn't in love with him, and it felt like the perfect post-divorce relationship." She frowned. "The only thing I disliked was when I had to go with him to firm functions. He was really into showin' me off. He would buy me some incredibly expensive dress to wear, which I thought was silly because I had enough clothes, but he would beg me to wear what he got me. So I did, although they were usually more revealing than I normally wore. And then he would tell me if he liked my hair and my makeup, and if he didn't, he would ask me to change it for him. It was kinda annoying, really, but it wasn't that often, and just for firm functions. Every other time he saw me he told me I was beautiful, no matter what I was wearin'."

"Ooh, I will have to take you somewhere fancy so I can see you in of those revealing dresses," Fritz said, a twinkle in his eye.

Brenda rolled her eyes. "Men" she said. "You're all alike."

"No we're not," Fritz whispered. "Please know that. Not all of us are jerks." He looked at her.

"I know that Fritz, or at least I'm tryin' to believe it, but right now I'm tellin' you about the ones that are. And I don't have those dresses any more. I'll tell you what happened to them later."

She paused again to collect her thoughts. I am strong enough to do this, she told herself. I told him about Hart and I can tell him about Peter. She looked at Fritz, who reached over and grabbed her and squeezed it and let go. She pulled her hand away and rolled herself up in a ball as tightly as she could, and continued.

"So, what do you know, Will Pope called me out of the blue. I hadn't seen him in five years, and you could have knocked me over with a feather. He said he was comin' to Atlanta for a conference, and he would like to meet me for drinks. He was divorced from Anne and married to Estelle, and they just had their first kid. I really do think he told me this on the phone because he was afraid I'd see him and try to seduce him. What an ego he had. Well, I agreed to meet, because I thought that it might help me to exorcise some of my demons, or at least one big demon, so I agreed to meet him.

"Peter called me up and asked me out to dinner for the followin' night, which was when I had agreed to see Will. Not thinkin' anything of it, or that he would care, I told him I was havin' drinks with an old boyfriend from DC. I guess I shouldn't have referred to Will as my boyfriend, but again, Peter wasn't the jealous type, or at least I thought he wasn't.

"Well, Peter went nuts. It was the weirdest thing, completely Jekyll and Hyde. He asked all about Will, how long our relationship was, what exactly I was doin' with him tomorrow night. I assured him we were just meetin' for drinks at a hotel downtown, and all of a sudden I got real angry. It felt like a flashback, like I was assurin' Hart I wasn't havin' an affair all over again. I said a few choice words to him and then hung up the phone. To me, his temper tantrum meant I was gonna break up with him, because I didn't need complications like that in my life. I didn't have the strength to deal with male jealousy any more.

"Peter called me like a billon times that next day, but I ignored him. After I got the stressful meetin' with Pope out of the way, I would tell Peter it was over. But one thing at a time."

"What was it like seeing Pope again, five years after he ended it?" Fritz asked.

"I was pretty anxious about it. I didn't know if I would be angry or burst into tears or what. And before you ask, I had three glasses of Merlot before I met him to calm my nerves." She smiled sarcastically at Fritz. "But it actually wasn't that bad. I saw him and I had no feelin's whatsoever, just a wave of anger, but not enough to go over and punch him or anythin'. It was awkward at first, especially when he asked about my husband. He had heard about me gettin' married, but not divorced, so that was uncomfortable. But I told him about the whole ethics inquiry, and he was real sympathetic. Then he started showin' me pictures of his new baby girl, and I was amazed to see Will as mushy as that. I was thinkin' that maybe fatherhood will make him a little less of an ass. We both relaxed and talked about interestin' cases we have been workin' on, both of us makin' sure we didn't mention our relationship. Then out of the corner of my eye, I see Peter walkin' toward us. I couldn't believe it. When we were fightin' on the phone the day before, I must have told him the name of the hotel I was meetin' Pope at. So, Peter comes to the table and very politely introduces himself to Will as my boyfriend. Will, the jerk, said, 'oh, Brenda didn't tell me she had a boyfriend!" I wanted to stab him for sayin' that, because Peter gave me the look of death. Peter then went on to say that he was pickin' me up because we had dinner plans, and he was terribly sorry for interruptin' our conversation.

"So I had a choice. I could either tell Peter to go to hell, and risk creatin' a scene, especially since Peter appeared to have gone over the deep end or somethin'. I didn't want to embarrass myself in front of Will, dumb as that sounds. I had told him about Hart and the ethics inquiry; I didn't want him to know I now had a crazy boyfriend too. So I stood up and smiled, shook Will's hand, and apologized for havin' to leave so suddenly, and took Peter's outstretched arm. As soon as we were out of earshot, I planned to chew him a new one and tell him I never wanted to see him again."

Brenda reached down and drained her glass of Merlot. She really wished she had ignored Fritz and brought the entire bottle out with her. She shuttered slightly, and Fritz again took her hand. She pulled back, knowing she couldn't look at Fritz until she finished the story. Keeping control was going to be hard enough without seeing the look on Fritz's face.

"Well, I never quite got the chance. His car was parked right outside, and he literally threw me in the passenger's side. When I tried to get out, tellin' him my own car was there and I didn't want to go with him anyways, he just slammed the door on me, and I barely got my feet out of the way. Then he gets into the car and I can tell he's been drinkin'. He yelled at me to shut up, and he started drivin' away real fast. At this point I'm furious, and I'm tellin' him it's over and to let me out of the car right now. I told him he was crazy, and then he started yellin' at me, tellin' me I had no respect for him, that he didn't ask much of me at all, and for me to go an hook up with an old boyfriend was unforgivable. He went on to say he was sure that if he didn't come and get me I would end up sleepin' with Will, and that was so unfair to him he had to stop it. So I started yellin' back that if I wanted to sleep with Will it was my choice, it was done between us anyways, and boy, did that get him goin'. It was like I was in some parallel universe, with this guy who is Peter's evil twin. I mean, the guy never raised his voice to me, or acted crazy at all. And all of a sudden he's forcin' me into his car and drivin' 80 miles an hour to God knows where. I was really scared, because I didn't know who this guy was. And I didn't bring my gun with me, like an idiot. So I just closed my eyes and stopped listenin' to his screamin', and just prayed that everything was gonna work out OK. Cuz the way he was behavin' I wasn't sure, and I certainly worked enough murders of women killed by their partners to know that I could be one of them.

"After what felt like ages, he started to slow the car. I opened my eyes and we were in the middle of nowhere. We weren't in Atlanta anymore, but way out in the country surrounded by tobacco fields. I had no idea why he had taken me there, and got even more scared that he was gonna kill me." Brenda took a deep breath to try and slow her pulse, which was rising dangerously high as she told this story.

"He stopped the car, still screamin' at me, sayin' I wanted to get out of the car, so get out. Peter went around to the passenger's side and yanked me out. I had a split second to do some damage to him, so I kneed him in the groin. He doubled over and I started runnin, but there was no place to run to, and I was wearin' heals. He caught up with me in a couple of minutes and turned me around to look at him. He actually looked…sad. He said to me, no longer yellin' but in his normal voice, 'I gave you everything you wanted. I thought you were the one. And this is how you treat me. You have broken my heart' or some drivel like that. I retorted that he's given me nothin', and I hated him and never wanted to see him again. And then…" Brenda's throat constricted and she could barely force the words out. "I didn't see it comin'. All my CIA trainin' and I didn't see it comin'. He punched me across the face full force. The blow was so hard it knocked me to the ground, and I was stunned. He dragged me off the ground and then slapped me with the back of his hand a few times before lettin' me fall to the ground again. He stood there starin' at me, barely conscious, blood everywhere, and I thought there was more to come. But he just said to me, in his calm voice, he was sorry he had to punish me like this, but it was my own fault. And he turned around and walked back to the car and drove away, like nothing had happened." Brenda felt sick to her stomach, and she still didn't look at Fritz.

"So there I am, beat up and dizzy, and I had no idea where I was. Once I threw up a couple times, I slowly stood up and realized I could walk, not in a straight line or anythin', but I could walk. And I started to be able to think again, the shock of everything that happened wore off just a bit. I knew I had to get home and maybe get medical attention, because my nose felt like it might be broken. So I found my cell phone and thought about who I should call for help. I had girlfriends, but they were married and had families, and probably didn't have the time to drive around Georgia lookin' for me. So I decided, as much as I didn't want to, to call Daddy. He has an amazin' sense of direction, and knows the state of Georgia like the back of his hand. I go to call him, and guess what, no signal on my cell. I started to cry, feelin' so helpless and lost, until I decided wallowin' wasn't gonna help me get home. So I put my investigator's hat on to figure out what to do. As deserted as this place was, I figured there had to be a farmhouse around somewhere, so I started walkin'. I was wearin' heals, which weren't helpin', so I took them off and started to walk barefoot along the side of the gravel road. I walked for about an hour and a half before I spotted a farmhouse. The lights were out, but I was hopin' someone was home. I went up and knocked on the door, findin' my badge in my purse. It was pretty late by now, after 11pm, so I thought people might be asleep. And they were. After my third round of knockin,' an angry man came to the door, hollerin' about being woke up. He took one look at me and shut up. I showed him my badge and told him I was stranded and didn't know where I was, could he please let me borrow his phone? The guy yelled for his wife and she came down and gasped when she saw me. I didn't get through my speech about why I was there before she pulled me through the door and into the kitchen. She cleaned off my face and gave me ice to put over my bruises. She noticed my feet were all torn up from walking barefoot on gravel, and she washed them and bandaged them too. I can't tell you how kind she was. I asked to use her phone to call my daddy to come get me, and if one of them could get on the phone to give him directions, I would appreciate it.

So I called home, and Daddy answered the phone, mad for me wakin' up him and Momma. I said as straightforward as I could that Peter and I had a big fight, and he had stranded me somewhere outside of Atlanta, and could he please come and get me? He asked why I wasn't callin' someone in my squad for help. I had to tell him Peter beat me up, and I didn't want anyone in my squad to see me like this. I started cryin,' my Daddy started swearin', and the two strangers looked at me, horrified. It was just awful. So I put the husband on the phone to give Daddy directions, and then started to cry even harder. The woman—I can't remember her name—brought me water and aspirin, and asked if I would like to lie down on the couch while I waited for my father. She made me a bed on the sofa, and I must have fallen asleep, because the next thing I knew someone was knockin' on the door, and it was Daddy. I tell ya, I have never been more relieved to see someone in my life. He took one look at me and swore, but held it together enough to thank the people who took me in. I always regretted not getting their names and sendin' a thank you card to them. They really were my lifesavers that night.

"So Daddy asked me what happened, and I told him. I could see how mad he was, but he was holdin' back his rantin' and ravin' because it was clear I was too upset to hear it. He drove me straight to the ER, and it turned out my nose was broken. By the time we got outta there is was like 5am, and Daddy took me home. Momma was up, took one look at me, and started cryin'. I was so worn out by then that I couldn't even cry. Since I was worried Peter might try to come to my house, I stayed with my parents for a couple of weeks. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? In my thirties and still runnin' to my parents to take care of me." Brenda finally ventured a look at Fritz. She was afraid she was going to see pity in his eyes, but instead he looked almost nauseous, pale and sweaty.

"And thing is, I was so angry at myself. Still am. I'm trained to read people, and yet I didn't see Peter for what he was, a batterer. I mean, how could I have missed the signs? How could I possibly have been so blind? The whole dressin' me up thing, dictatin' what I wore and how I looked, that was real controllin' behavior, but for some reason I just shrugged it off." She felt her eyes tearing up, this time, she didn't bother to try and stop her them. Tears rolled down her cheeks while she tried to pull her mind away from that dark night. She would never forget the fear and the shock and the blood, and the cut of gravel into her bare feet as she walked that deserted road, looking up at the crystal stars and feeling more alone than she ever had. Fritz get up from the couch, and he returned quickly with two things she needed: a Kleenex and the Merlot bottle. He poured her another glass and handed it to her.

"You probably need this," he said softly.

Brenda looked at the full glass: it was tempting, and maybe another glass would numb some of the pain she was in, but she wanted to be stronger than that. She had to be able to tell Fritz this terrible story and not have to drink three bottles of Merlot to do it. She shook her head and Fritz sat it on the coffee table.

"Brenda, none of what happened was your fault, none of it. We both know batterers are often very charming men, which is what it sounds like Peter was. Until he got jealous and felt out of control, and then his abusive side came out. I know you have heard women who have been beaten by men blame themselves, don't do the same. You did nothing to deserve it. I'm sure you weren't the first woman he hit."

She wiped her nose and shook her head. "No, I ran him through the system after that. Peter had been arrested about five years before for beating up a girlfriend. She went in the next day and pleaded his case, and the charges were dropped."

"So, I'm sure you turned him in and things weren't so easy this time, huh?"

Brenda shifted uncomfortably. "Well no, not exactly. I didn't file charges against him." She couldn't meet Fritz's eyes.

"What?" He sounded shocked and a little angry, like she knew he would. "Why, Brenda, did you let this guy get away with hurting you?"

She held up her hand. "I didn't say he got away with it. But I didn't file charges, no. You have to understand, Fritz, what the Atlanta PD was like. I told you that I was harassed pretty badly after my ethics inquiry, and never had the same level of respect from my peers again. Well, I am sure someone would delight in findin' a police report showin' Captain Johnson's boyfriend beat her up. A cop who can't defend herself. I can guarantee you that would make the rounds for sure. And I just didn't have the energy to deal with any more grief from work, and this was way too personal to have people jokin' about it, like I knew they would."

"Brenda, that's horrible. It sounds like you worked with the biggest bunch of assholes."

She nodded. "Welcome to the world of bein' a female police officer."

He was quiet for a second. "You said he didn't get away with it, though. What do you mean?"

"Well, when I went back to work a couple of days later, I had to tell some story, so I said I was playin' baseball with my brothers and got a line drive to my face. The bandage to my broken nose covered a lot of the bruisin', and I spent a small fortune on cover up makeup, so my squad seemed to buy it, and were teasin' me all day 'bout stayin' away from the Major Leagues.

"There was a female officer in my squad, Detective Dodd, whom I liked very much. She was real down to earth, several years older than me, and we got on well. She came into my office and shut the door. She told me her ex-husband used to beat her, and she knows a battered face and a shaky story when she saw one. Without even pausin' to let me lie again, she asked me what happened, and I went ahead and gave her the abbreviated version. She understood why I didn't press charges, though it made her angry that Peter was gonna get away with this. She had an idea for a little bit of payback, and I agreed to it. She called her partner, Detective Romano, into the room and quickly told him what happened. Detective Romano owed me one, so I knew I could trust both of them not to tell anyone about what really happened to my face."

"Detective Romano owed you one? Did you push him out of the way of a bullet or something?" asked Fritz.

Brenda smiled. "In a manner of speakin.' One night I just happened to be downtown near this gay bar, and I saw Romano outside kissin' his boyfriend. He wasn't 'out,' and sure didn't want anyone at the PD to find out about him bein' gay. He was very grateful as his boss that I couldn't have cared less, and I would never tell anyone. So yea, he owed me one.

"So, Detectives Dodd and Romano went down to Peter's big law firm and walked right in, demandin' to know where he was. Their timin' was perfect, because he was in a conference room full of clients and a few partners. They announced very loudly that they needed to talk to Mr. Kelly about the felony he had committed the other night. Well, he got outta that room real fast and into his office. Romano and Dodd got into his face and made it sound like I had filed charges, and was only willin' to consider droppin' them if he promised never to come near me again. And if he did, they would be back, this time to arrest him for felony assault and kidnappin'. They told him that an attack on a fellow officer makes cops pretty testy, and he wasn't gonna enjoy the strip search in jail after he got booked, and judges don't look to favorably on someone who hurts one of their own. And they made it clear that if they ever hear that he as so much as gave a dirty look to another woman, that they would be right back to haul him into jail. He was shakin' by the time they were done, agreein' to anything so he wouldn't get cuffed and hauled away in front of his colleagues. And as the icin' on the cake, on their way out the door Detective Romano turned around and said, in this boomin' voice so everyone heard it, that Mr. Kelly was a batterer, and all the women in the firm should stay far away from him. I know one of the partners was a woman, so I imagine that didn't go over too big."

"That's great, Brenda. It's good you had people that stood up for you. But did he listen? Did he ever come near you again?"

She shook her head. "Nope. Peter cared a lot about his career, and he knew he could get disbarred for a felony if the charges didn't get pleaded down, so I never saw him again. He sent me a box with some personal belongin's I left at his house, with no note or anything."

An evil glint in her eye, she said, "oh, I sent him a package too. I took all those $500 dresses he bought me and cut them up into little shreds. It kinda pained me to do that, because they were nice and more expensive than anything I could afford, but there was no way I was ever gonna wear them again. So I sent him a box of chopped up dresses, no note." She allowed herself to feel smug for a minute. In cutting up those dresses, she took out some of her humiliation and fury toward Peter. Destroying tangible objects of his subtle attempt to control her made her feel strong again, if only for a few minutes. She kept a couple pieces of fabric, a red satin brocade and a forest green velvet, in her drawer, to remind her of what it felt like to have a man take away her dignity like that, and how she was tough enough to get away. Whenever she had a dark night where sleep was impossible because she was surrounded by the ghosts that haunted her, she would take those bits of fabric out and hold them in her hand, as if they were a talisman to ward away horrible memories. I am strong, I am strong, she would chant to herself like a mantra. If only her fears were as easily destroyed as those expensive gowns.

Fritz asked quietly, "was that enough justice for you?"

"It had to be," she said. "I couldn't get much more, not without gettin' hurt all over again. And a few months later, Will called about the new position in Priority Homicide, and Atlanta was startin' to collect too many bad memories, so I moved here. And the rest is history."

Fritz didn't respond. They sat in silence for a few minutes, both lost in their thoughts. Finally Fritz slipped down on his knees in front of Brenda, and took both of her hands in his.

"Brenda, I just have to tell you there's nothing in the world that would ever make me hurt you like those other men." Brenda could tell he was getting choked up. He squeezed her hands tighter. "You are too precious to me to ever hurt. I promise you that, with my whole heart." Brenda looked into his dark eyes, sparkling with unshed tears.

"Oh Fritz," she said, with the weariness of someone who has suffered too much too soon, "don't you understand? Every man in my life has told me that exact same thing. And see what happened."

Fritz looked pained, and Brenda had a hard time looking at him. But he was so earnest that she couldn't turn away. "Brenda Leigh Johnson," he said, his voice wavering, "I fell for you ten years ago in DC. If I have to wait another ten years to earn your trust, I'll do it. It would be a small price to pay for being allowed in your heart."

She had to look away, the intensity was blinding, and the raw emotion behind his words was too much. She suddenly felt completely exhausted. "Fritz, I'm goin' to bed, I'm beat." She let go of his hands, stood up, and started walking towards the bathroom. She noticed he wasn't following, perhaps unsure he was invited to spend the night. She turned back and looked at him, still crouched on the floor. "You comin?"

Brenda brushed her teeth, put on a long tee-shirt, and collapsed into bed. She set the alarm, and a couple of minutes later, she was joined by Fritz, clad only in only his boxers, as usual. She turned out the light and lay down on her back. She heard Fritz sigh, low and quiet, and felt the tenseness in his body. She rolled over on her side and propped herself up on her elbow, bringing her face very close to his. Even in the darkness, she could see his beautiful dark eyes. She reached out and stroked his cheek, and he looked grateful for her touch.

"Thank you for listenin' to all of that," Brenda whispered. It's hard to talk about, so I'm sure it's hard to hear."

Fritz reached up a took a strand of her hair and twisted it around his finger. "I'm sorry if I pushed to much, Brenda, I really am. I had no idea."

"It's okay Fritzy," she said, and it was. As exhausted and emotionally raw as she was, part of her felt a little lighter. Painful secrets are cruel masters, and perhaps telling someone about them takes some of their power away, she thought.

She reached down to give him the lightest of kisses on his lips. "Goodnight, Fritz. Sweet dreams." After she kissed him she looked into his eyes, and something compelled her to kiss him again, this time slower. She felt her body respond, and was amazed that she could have any sexual feelings as chafed as she felt. She could tell by the way that Fritz kissed her back that he wanted her, but he made no move to touch her. She deepened the kiss, and Fritz moaned. And suddenly she wanted to make love to him desperately. She needed to connect with him, knowing that it would be salve to her bruised heart. She moved on top of him and at last he responded, burying one hand in her hair and slipping another up her tee-shirt to caress her back. And Brenda thought, before passion took away her ability to do so, that at least tonight, the ghosts will be kept at bay.

The End

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