Alternate Paths to Happy Endings
:: I have decided that I was going to go back to where I started and write a Tommy/Kimberly story for my 100th fic and make it a full-length story. I can't believe that it has been 4 years ever since I started writing. I dedicate the story to everyone who loves T/K as much as I do and for everyone who enjoys reading my stories. Extra brownie and hugs for Shawn30 for all the help with the title and summary; I hate doing those -smiles-
Reefside - California
Tuesday, September 11th, 2007
"Okay, this is ridiculous," Kim straightened her back and turned around to glare at him. "Give me one reason why I shouldn't think that you rigged this."
Tommy was sitting cross legged on the red and white checkered tablecloth, his dark brown eyes shining with suppressed laughter. He had been leisurely watching her turning various scopes and clamps for the past fifteen minutes, trying to locate something. Trying being the keyword, she hadn't been very successful.
"I don't know," He shrugged and grabbed an apple, rubbing it against his shirt before taking a bite. "Maybe because I haven't come near you since I showed you the Andromeda galaxy. Couldn't you find the moon? It's pretty hard to miss. Just look up and there she is!"
She narrowed her eyes at him and instead of prolonging the non-sense banter, she exhaled a heavy breath and blew her bangs out of her eyes. "Oh well, I don't do well with sophisticated gadgets. This must have cost you quite a pretty penny, though?" Her fingers grazed the cold surface of the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. It stood firmly on the flat area of the uneven ground. It had taken Tommy two trips back and forth from his jeep to their spot to carry the weighty devices, letting Kim take the picnic basket.
"Not really. It belonged to one of my students," He wiped his hands on his khakis, heaved himself up and joined the petite brunette gazing down the hill. Despite the pink windbreaker she had on she was still shivering and he wrapped an arm around her shoulder, tugging her close to his side. "Keith graduated last year and I talked with his dad in the commencement, he's an old friend from UCLA. He bought this in 2000, but unfortunately he's a beginner who thought bigger, complicated telescopes were better. The hobby was short-lived and he got bored and stored it in the garage, still as good as new. He offered me a nice bargain, so I took it."
Kim smirked up at him. "I would say that for someone who barely passed Biology back in high school, telescopes were the last thing I thought would pique your interest, but then again, you have that PhD now. A doctor, wow, imagine that. Not a real doctor, but still pretty impressive." She tip toed to kiss the side of his face. "And it's not like you're not saving lives in abnormally different way."
Tommy laughed and poked her ticklish side, holding her tighter when she's squirming to break free. "They're giving it out for free, actually. Maybe I did perform a striptease or two…"
"Smart ass." She jabbed his ribs playfully and tugged him to stand before the telescope, ignoring his snort at her apparent intention. "Find something for your Beautiful!" Her request was followed with a short albeit passionate kiss. Even after almost two and a half years of getting back together, she still couldn't, wouldn't ever get enough of him.
The date under the moon light was a last second decision. While she wistfully wanted to watch the latest Johnny Depp movie, she wouldn't dream of refusing a romantic night cuddling with Tommy under a blanket of stars. She might dislike the fact of him living in the middle of nowhere, though the location had proven to be useful for a Command Center (and also bear free), but the remoteness of his house actually gave them so much advantages.
Like when they're having hot, sweaty, love making through out the night to the wee hours in the morning.
Feeling her cheeks redden at the imagery, Kim pulled away and gave his backside a playful swat. The hill was located approximately one and a half miles from Tommy's house and had been their private haven on several occasions. Around them it was silence but the soft instrumental melody from the radio she had bought and sporadic howling of the owls.
Life was good.
She had gone to train for the Pan Globals and even competed in the Olympics that earned her the title of the America's Sweetheart when she brought home three gold medals, catapulting the small town of Angel Grove as a newfound gem in the map. As much as she loved gymnastics, that chapter of her life had ended. She had relieved her childhood memories and they would always be cherished. With a new determination and goal in mind, she entered University of Miami and earned her degree in interior design.
A week later, she packed her stuff and moved back to California.
Her eyes traveled from the sparkling lights from the town to the man currently bending over the telescope, showing off one of his better attributes while doing so.
Meeting Tommy again in the NASCAR race tracks had been definitely a pleasant surprise. Her brother had made her go and her complaints had died in her mouth when she caught the sight of Tommy in the parking lot. He hadn't been alone though the four friends of his looked rather young standing next to him. In later conversations she found out that they had been his students and protégée. She realized they had lost touch, but to have missed such important piece of information had really given her a hard kick in the ass.
"Seriously, Tommy, most people would have zigzagged their way out of troubles, but you're walking straight to it. I don't want to come to your funeral before you're at least eighty."
He chuckled, looking at her with those soulful eyes she still remembered from her dreams.. "That part of my life was done. You're looking at a regular science teacher."
They had promised to keep in touch and so they had. Riverside was two hours driving from Reefside and the reacquaintances had been done through friendly lunches and movie nights. Neither touched the touchy subject of the letter as they had glossed over it all those years ago after the Muranthias incident. The gaping hole was slowly inching closer together until the cracks were barely visible to both.
The relationship had remained platonic for exactly eight months before she felt something changing. The way he looked at her when he thought she wasn't looking or simply how her heartbeat sped up when he held her hands. Long night phone calls, lingering hugs and pats on the back; tons of excuses to maintain physical contact with each other.
Aisha had said that it was bound to happen sooner or later, and she had been right.
Eight months and three weeks since their first meeting he kissed her good night and all she could think of was how she had been a fool for ever letting him go. It was a mistake she didn't plan to repeat, ever again.
"Penny for your thoughts?" His gentle probing cut through her reverie and when she looked up, he had stood in front of her, hands stretching out.
Grinning, Kim accepted his hands and let him pull herself up. "I was just wondering what took you so long. I was half hoping you wouldn't find anything either."
Tommy didn't look entirely convinced but let it slide nonetheless. In fact, he looked distant himself; like he was lost in the mist of his own thought. "I always aim to please, but sorry, Beautiful, I think I have to burst your bubble. Go see."
Sticking her tongue out, Kim turned to face the telescope and leaned over, peering through the lens. "Don't you dare make fun of me if I'm wrong, but is that Mars?" The planet was glaring and it seemed if she reached out her hand, she would be able to take it into her hand. "Tommy, it's so bright and pretty, just like a pearl." She glanced back over her shoulder, beaming widely and flushed delicately when she saw him chuckling. Her smile faltered and she cleared her throat, regaining some of her dignity back. "I won't even ask why you're laughing."
"You just reminded me of Sue," He answered anyway, amused. "Our goddaughter was almost, if not as excited as you are when she first looked through the telescope. She's been nagging Jase to get her one for Christmas. He's not really happy about it."
Kim gave him the finger and turned her attention back to the fantastic view of the red planet. "You're so not getting any tonight."
"Such a shame. The food you prepared for us was really delicious, especially that chicken parmesan; it really hit the spot. I was in the middle of an intense brainstorming of various ways to pay you back when we got home."
His husky tone made her bite her lips in anticipation. Grateful that he couldn't see her flustered face, she replied, "Flattery will get you nowhere, and thank you. Nanna used to tell me that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach."
"I guess that rule only applies if you're dating Rocky." Tommy retorted and stood to his feet. "I loved you last year when you couldn't cook a sunny side up and almost burnt down my house in two separate occasions and poisoned us once."
Kimberly threw him a dirty look. "You totally, absolutely and positively will not get any tonight."
His laughter was music to her ears and suddenly she felt a pair of strong arms encase her small frame. Her head found its place on his chest and she smiled softly, delighted to have him pressed so close to her. "Well, I was told that a way to a woman's heart is through gentle kisses," A small moan escaped her lips when he pressed a kiss on the exposed skin of her neck. "Respect, loyalty, dedication, never ending romance," She craned her neck to catch his lips in a scalding kiss that he returned just as fervently. He broke the kiss after a while and there's a glint in his eyes that she couldn't really fathom…"and diamonds."
Kim pressed her lips against his again, smiling when she felt his soul patch tickle her skin. "Okay, you might get lucky tonight, but don't hold your-," She stopped mid-sentence when her eyes dropped to the ring he's holding between his forefinger and thumb. Even in the modest lighting it seemed to sparkle even brighter than the universe of stars above. He couldn't be…
"Oh, Tommy…," She choked out and held his hand tighter. How many times had she dreamed of this moment? How many times had she blamed herself for ruining her chance of having a life together with him? Now the time had come and she couldn't even string coherent sentences together.
Gentle strokes on the back of her hand brought her back from her tangled thoughts and her eyes were brimming with tears at the gesture—it was a sweet reminiscence of their first kiss. "I've loved you all my life, Beautiful, and now that I got you back I don't want to spend another day without you," His warm chocolate eyes held nothing but love and she knew her knees would fail her if he didn't hold her against him. "Will you marry me?"
St. Marie Louis
Friday, October 11th, 2007
It would be a stunning wedding.
St. Marie Louis had one of the best botanical gardens in Angel Grove. The venue was already ripe with natural beauty that it didn't take much to perfect the stage. The lush garden of topiaries and lavender and lilies of the valley gave away the magical, heavenly feeling. Arches covered in blooms and a flowered filled gazebo… the fountain in the middle of the garden was the cherry on top. Floating candles and petals would be added on the pond tomorrow and everything would be perfect.
It was funny that when she's seventeen she had thought that Tommy and she would be the first ranger couple to tie the knot. It had been naïve of her, but they had helped her survive the endless and boring hours of Ms. Appleby class. When your daily routines involved kicking some putties and blowing up monsters in desperate need of a makeover, daydreaming of having a pink and white wedding could definitely be classified as normal.
The two women met halfway and embraced tightly. "How are you? And where's Jason and that little pumpkin?" Kim gushed, looking around for more familiar faces.
Her appointment with her accountant had ended early and going home and driving back when she's already around the venue would be too much of a ruckus. She had spent the better part of the waiting game in the car, windows rolled down and random music blasting from her iPod when boredom struck and made her go inside.
Bad call. If she had to stare at the wedding decorations for another minute, she would have surely lost her mind.
"Sue's spending the day with my mom today, but my parents will come and join the dinner rehearsal this evening. Jason dropped me off and he's picking up Adam and Tanya. They should be here in a while." The former yellow ranger took Kim's hand and guided her to sit in one of the available plastic chairs. "So Aisha's going for butterflies and dragonflies theme?"
"Yeah, as you can see, they still stick to their colors," Kim grinned, eyeing the decorations loaded with yellow scheme and a touch of red here and there for accentuation. "Rocky said that he wasn't that smart to be blue, so he'd go with red. Billy pretty much set the standards, you know."
"I can imagine how the décor would look when you and Tommy finally make it official. It will be so colorful people would think it's a kindergarten party instead of a wedding!" Trini laughed, completely unaware that Kim had gone stiff beside her at the first mention of a possible wedding. The lack of response quieted her down; Kim was usually quick with witty comebacks. "Kim? Did I say something wrong?"
Kimberly sighed and leaned back, glancing at Trini tentatively. They were still as close as sisters, but ever since Jason got transferred to St. Luke Hospital in Texas two years ago, they had kind of lost contact. The only person she'd shared the complete story with was Aisha and she had made her sworn not to tell a single soul, not even her future husband. Kim would have called CNN if she wanted to broadcast the news. More often that not, Rocky had problems keeping his mouth shut.
"Didn't Jason say anything?" Her brow furrowed. She was pretty confident that Tommy would confide in Jason. Both men were brothers in anything but blood.
"What happened? Did something happen? Wait, where's Tommy? How come you're here alone without him?"
Kim crossed her legs and rested her chin on top of her hand. "Well, something did happen. Nothing major, it's just… Tommy proposed."
From the tone she's using, she might as well say,"I have a toothache."
The ear splitting squeal Trini let out was loud enough to startle the workers currently hanging glowing festive lanterns in the tree branches. Aisha had reacted pretty much the same way, only they had been talking by phone she had to pull the receiver away from her ear. "Oh my God, Kimberly! It's about time, congratulations!" Trini crushed her rigid body in a tight hug then paused two seconds later, finally realizing that the excitement only came from one side- hers. She pulled back slowly, looking at Kim as though she had grown a second head. "Um, judging by your reaction I suppose congratulations isn't in order?"
Kim forced a smile. "Yeah, not really."
"You've got to be kidding me," Trini breathed, astonished. "Kim, were you drunk or high when he proposed? This had been your dream since you're fifteen! Marrying Tommy, having a family with him, making up for lost time? Are you pulling my leg?" She had been there from Kim's first glimpse of Tommy and she had been her ears the whole time, listening to the perky Pink Ranger going on and on about the new transferred student. Even when Kim wrote him that letter, she had made an effort to contact her in the Switzerland.
"Well, I didn't exactly say no. I asked him to give me time to think it over." God, it had killed her to see into his eyes and said those words, watching his hope shatter into tiny pieces. And it was her fault.
"I hate to break it to you girl, but usually, couples with unanswered proposals don't survive that long." Aisha had chosen her words with care.
But technically she didn't turn him down. She just asked for some alone time to reflect.
Except 'some time' had turned to hours turned to a full day turned to a week turned to a month. Now exactly 30 days had passed and she still hadn't given him any answers. How did you think he might feel, Kim?
Tommy had given her the space she needed. She hadn't seen him in a month and every fiber of her being was practically craving for him.
She missed him. She missed his companion, his hugs and reassuring kisses and the warm rush of security enveloping her whenever he was around.
She didn't even have to start about the sex.
"Heya ladies! Miss me?"
Jason Scott was in the house.
After Jason, Adam and Tanya came, the guests were starting to arrive in small waves. Coming from a fairly large family, Rocky's relatives took more than half of the chairs provided. The Spanish chatter filling out the air gave her an ethereal impression that she was vacationing in Mexico.
Kimberly exchanged quick greetings with her fellow rangers before briskly excusing herself to the ladies room. 'Tommy and Kimberly' were the 'it' couple of the Power Rangers. Ever since they first dated in high school, even during the break up and up after they'd reconciled, 'Tommy and Kimberly' were considered inseparable.
She had no desire whatsoever to be interrogated about the whereabouts of Tommy, or if they were doing great, or if they're planning to follow Aisha and Rocky's steps in the near future. Besides, she knew her friends too well not to worry about being conned by them. Jason would fill them in and she didn't want to be there when the grilling began.
She was walking across the yard, feeling somewhat refreshed after a quick splash of water on her face when she caught the sight of them descending the short stairs leading to the garden. Tommy had arrived and he wasn't alone.
His friend was gorgeous, at least five inches taller than her without heels and holding onto his arm like it's the most natural thing to do.
Feeling a bit lightheaded, Kim quietly turned on her heels and made a quick beeline to the ladies room for the second time.
You've got to be shitting me.
Great. See what you have done, Kim? You practically shoved him into another woman's arms.
Is it for real? Seriously?
She heard sharp heels clicking on the hardwood floors and her hands gripped the edge of the sink tighter. With her luck she wouldn't be surprised if Tommy's plus one waltz through that door. Fortunately, when the door slammed open, Mrs. Campbell was stomping in. Her nervousness deflated like a burst balloon.
"Hey, Tara," The impatient expression etched on the older woman's face made her temporarily forgot about Tommy.
"Kim, have you heard from Aisha? It's almost time and she's still a no show. They're not answering their phones."
Kim checked her cellphone, finding the signal bars empty. "Aisha texted me half an hour ago, they're on their way. They should be here soon."
"They have to," Tara Campbell peered into her watch and groaned in frustration. "Oh well, thanks, Kim. Let me know if she calls or texts you again. We're going to be so late!"
Kim waited until she's gone and turned back to the mirror. The reflection staring back at her made her shudder. It wasn't how she wanted to present herself in front of Tommy and his date; pale and weary with horrible dark circles under her eyes. She didn't even bother to wear a dress and just opted to go with a pair of worn-out jeans and tank top. She's a great poster for a miserable, dumped girlfriend. Oh the irony…
Now what? Playing hide and seek was ridiculous but she wasn't ready for this. She supposed she would never be ready to face him. She was more than happy to camp there until the rehearsal's over but Aisha would kill her for missing out. On the other hand, she wasn't sure if she had the power to walk out there, pretend like Tommy never proposed and didn't come with a woman so pretty she would give Kat a run for her money.
She could feel her blood rush to her face at the mere thought.
It was intolerable! He got some nerves to show up with some woman to an event that he's well aware she'd attend.
Suddenly slipping away and driving home sounded like the second best idea after the invention of electricity.
A loud laughter broke her reverie. Glancing at the mirror for the last time, she finally emerged from the bathroom, meeting a trio of women supposedly Rocky's aunts on her way out. She had to talk with Trini or Aisha. Both female surely could come up with one or two great ideas to help her out. Or heck, she wouldn't even hesitate to ask Kat. They had succeeded in being civil towards each other so far and Pink Rangers got to stick together.
She was so engrossed in her bewildered thoughts that she almost hit a wall of steel when she turned around the corner.
Only that 'wall of steel' turned out to be the person she had been avoiding all afternoon.
More like all month, don't you say?
Shit, shit, shit.
For what seemed to be an eternity, they were just staring at each other. Much to his credit and to her dismay, Tommy looked more composed than she was. And look better too, she thought ruefully. When it was apparent that neither would say anything, she stepped up to break the ice.
"Looking for, um, the ladies room? You don't have certain quirks that I don't know of, do you?"
His eyebrows rose at the unexpected greeting. "Hello, Kim, and just in case you missed it, if you turn your head you'll see a panel that says 'Gents' right in front of it."
"Hello to you too, Tommy." She replied, hands idly swinging on her sides. What should she do? Punch him? Hug him? Kiss him? Where? On the cheek, on the lips? Why should she be kind to him when he's humiliating herself in front of everyone?
Her question was answered when he merely smiled at her, hands shoved down his pants. "You look good."
Her mind instantly flew to her messy ponytail. Was he mocking her?
"Thanks, you too," And he really did. Clad in dark grey V-neck sweater and a pair of form fitting jeans, Tommy looked as though he just walked out of the front cover of a fashion magazine. His hair was gelled and looked slightly darker than its normal brown. Those eyes were still the same deep, rich chocolate and he smelled incredible
"How are you, Kim?" She knew he meant well, but she would have to be dense to miss the bitterness in his words. "Haven't seen you in quite a while."
"Work's still a pain in the ass and I got a new boss from hell. Life's definitely been better." Yeah, definitely been better… that's an understatement. "Nothing new, really." She added, shooting a meaningful glance his way.
Tommy definitely didn't catch the underlying sarcasm since he only smirked. "I can relate."
"Nothing new on your side? Funny, I thought I saw you coming with a new friend," Escaped her mouth before she could give it a second thought and once she started, it was painfully impossible for her to stop. "Had to give it to you, Tommy, you didn't waste time."
He frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Kim snorted, hands tightly folded across her chest. "Oh, please, I guess we both know exactly what I mean."
"You know what, I don't. And if there's someone who has the right to be angry, it's me. You've gone MIA for almost a month, left me nothing more than a 'hey, Tommy, what's up' voicemail and several unreplied texts and now you took the first chance to jump on my throat,"
"Well, I'm sorry that I had to ask you for some time to think. Marriage isn't something to be taken up lightly!" Her voice raised an octave, the anger that had been bottled up finally resurfaced.
The distant chatter and laughter from the ladies room was suspiciously quiet,
Tommy moved a few steps forward, eliminating the short distance between them. He leaned so close to her she could feel his warm minty breath fanning her face. "You wanted time, I gave you time. Lots of time. But here you are, blaming me for getting upset that my girlfriend was avoiding me like I have some kind of a contagious disease and to top of that, accusing me of going behind her back? Kim, seriously."
"It surely didn't take you long to get cozy with Kat soon after I broke up with you."
Tommy's face darkened and she could have sworn his eyes just flashed green. "Newsflash Kimberly, you dumped me. It surely didn't take long for you to get cozy with your gymnast while I was still in a relationship with you, waiting for you to come home to me three thousand miles away. God, Kim, do we really have to go through this again?"
Memories of them sitting together immediately came to mind. After Tommy and Jason won the charity karate tournament, the evening found them back on their spot at the park. Nothing left unsaid. Tears were shed, apologies were exchanged and promises were made. At the end of the day she went back to Florida while he returned to Katherine's arms.
Her lips pressed tightly together, nails digging deeply into her forearms and creating half-moon marks on her flesh. She had to count to ten before speaking and she was glad that her voice wasn't wavering. "You know what? This was supposed to be a good day and I'm not going to let you ruin it."
"Typical, typical Kimberly. Aren't you tired of running away?"
"What the hell is wrong with you, Tommy?"
"There's nothing wrong with me except that I'm so fucking confused as to why the woman I love so fucking much needs a fucking lot of time to make up her mind whether she wants to marry me or not!"
"Hasn't it ever crossed your mind that I'm probably just as confused as you are? It's a marriage proposal, for God's sake! It's not a matter of choosing what color would look best for the living room!"
They were full on screaming now and it was dead silent all around. Great, they had given those chicas a free topic to be gossiped about.
His eyes were cold and sad and he looked very disappointed her heart broke all over again.
"A month, Kim. You shouldn't have needed a month to look for your answer."
"I'm sure Aisha doesn't want to have a cranky maid-of-honor. Whatever it is you want to talk about, it can wait until after."
Tommy scoffed. "Right, what difference several hours would make? We're not done, you better remember that." With a parting glare he departed, leaving a suddenly very fragile Kimberly Hart.
We're not done talking, or we're not done, period?
Twenty seconds passed before the restroom conversation started again, more energetic than ever by the sound of it.
"Kimberly?" Kim blinked back the hot frustrated tears stinging her eyes and turned around, finding Trini standing at the end of the hallway. "I saw Tommy walking by and he looked rather unhappy. This will sound stupid, but are you guys alright?"
Did she really need to answer that stupid question? Breathing in deeply to collect her composure, Kim chose to ignore the subject. She was very, very close from losing it and she had no time to be a bawling princess at the moment. "What is it, Trini?"
Trini sighed, motioning for her to follow her. "As much as I want to grill you about everything, we've got some emergency."
"What kind of emergency?" Kim followed her and together they're walking back towards the main venue where the wedding rehearsal will be held. She noticed that a fairly large crowd had formed. "Is everything alright?"
"Not really. Aisha and Rocky are held up in traffic. There's an accident and a container truck is blocking the highway. The police are working on it now but it's unlikely they're going to arrive in ten minutes."
"The pastor can't wait any longer?"
"It's just a wedding coordinator and yes, she has another appointment in an hour."
"Damn. There had been several minor issues with the dress before so Aisha wanted to pick it up herself, just in case the tailor messed up again and needed some encouragement, and by encouragement I mean a good deal of tongue lashing. I told her the pink ranger's wrath was more severe than yellow ranger's, no offense," Kim grinned at Trini. "But no, she's apparently worried that I would team up with the dressmaker, steal the dress and run away to The Caribbeans. Not that it's a bad idea, given the situation…"
"Kim, Aisha wants to talk to you," Aisha's mother thrust the cellphone in her hand and scurried away to join her equally upset relatives, looking more and more like a ticking time bomb. "God, that truck just had to choose today of all day to have an accident!"
"Still think that trusting me to pick up the dress is a bad idea?" Kim asked half-teasingly.
"Shut up, Kim. If only Rocky actually listened to me and drove passed the traffic light, we wouldn't be here. Yes, I told you to ignore the lights! It was yellow and the street was empty!" Kim heard a slap and a loud ouch and had to smile. Some things never changed. "Anyway, Kim, you would stand up for me, wouldn't you?"
"Well, I am your maid of honor." Kim answered, not entirely understood where the conversation was heading. Trini, Jason and Adam were huddling close and she made a mistake of meeting Tommy's eyes. It didn't elevate her mood at all to see the redhead standing next to him.
"Good, now you should go up there and stand in for me. I want everything to be perfect, you hear me? I won't let a stupid truck get on my way and I certainly don't want they leave the bride and groom spots empty. I don't want to jinx my wedding just one day before. So you get your cute little ass up there, pay attention to everything Gabby says and let me know when I return later."
"Sorry, did I hear you right? Because I thought you just said that you wanted me to be the bride for the rehearsal." Kim repeated matter-of-factly. Jason's snicker was instantaneous and Trini put her hand over her mouth, disbelief written all over her face. Some people who heard her began to whisper among themselves. Tommy's eyes widened. Much to her annoyance, his date was chuckling, showing a set of deep dimples.
Tall, killer body, shiny hair, dimples… and she used to think that Katherine Hillard was the definition of 'unfair' in the dictionary. Now if only the Gingerbread Girl had a sweet accented voice, she would shoot herself.
Kim had never believed in karma, but she was sure that this was her penance for treating Tommy the way she did.
"Yeah, that's right, and I'll ask Tommy to stand in for Rocky. Has he arrived yet? Geez, can't they stop honking! It won't make the truck magically vanish!" Aisha shouted when a series of honking started to produce a chaotic orchestra in the background. "You know that there's nobody else I would trust beside you and I know you won't exactly be thrilled to have an imaginary groom. I can't really pair you off with Jason or Adam, it won't make me look good in front of Trini and Tanya, and obviously asking Kat would be scandalous. Now give the phone to my mom, or Tommy."
Aisha Campbell was officially having pre-wedding jitters.
"Aisha, are you crazy? Don't you remember that we aren't exactly BFF's right now?" Kim hissed into the phone and judging from the flicker of understanding in Tommy's eyes, she knew he had done the math. In contrary to the popular belief, he wasn't as slow as some people thought. After all, he had a PhD to back him up now.
"We? Who's we? You and Tommy? Come on, Kim, give that poor guy a rest. Maybe this will be good for you. It'll help you make your decision whether you want to marry him or not. First hand experience."
"Kim and Tommy are getting married?" Rocky piped. "For real?"
"Please, Kim, you know how much this means to me and I really don't want they leave our spots empty, even it's just a rehearsal. Do you recall that one time when my mom grounded me for a week because I let Tommy stay pass curfew? You owe me!"
"That was ancient history!"
If only people weren't gathering around her like she was somekind of a celebrity, she would gladly tell Aisha everything about the Gingerbread Girl. From the crown of her red hair to the red soles of her Christian Louboutin. Whoever in their right mind would wear an expensive pair of shoes after a drizzle, to a garden party nonetheless?
"Believe me, it will be over before you know it. Now give the phone to my mom. YES, Rocky, he proposed to her, now can you please sit back you're making me dizzy. Kim? You still there?"
It definitely was karma.
St. Marie Louis
Friday, October 11th, 2007
"Okay, you have to face the audience! They want to see your beautiful and good-looking faces, not your behind, as enticing as they might look," Gabby said, her boisterous voice booming and catching everyone's attention.
Kim didn't know where Aisha found their wedding coordinator, but she knew she would have enjoyed the rehearsal if only she was standing there. There as in beside Tanya and not here, next to Tommy who looked just as uncomfortable as she was albeit a bit amused. Amused! How dare he! He had accepted Aisha's request without so much of a fight and she grew hot just by thinking what he got up his sleeve.
"And you, little sweetie, your spot is right here, in front of the maid-in-honor," Gabby gently guided Rocky's five year old niece to stand in front of an empty spot.
Kim scowled. Of course, why should they bother to look for her stand in? Gabby hadn't been pleased about the new arrangement, but once she talked to Aisha she had reluctantly agreed. Kim didn't even want to know what dramatic deceptions her friend had feed her.
Aisha would be totally dead when she got there. So utterly dead that she would even forget that she had a wedding tomorrow. Hiding the dress for a few hours seemed perfect, or using that magic ketchup to create a commotion...
When her eyes met Adam's among the groomsmen, he grinned sheepishly. Having seen the mischievous glint in Jason's eyes before, she had no doubt that Tommy had definitely had a heart to heart conversation with him. As far as Adam went… he probably thought Tommy and Kim were just having a regular quarrel. At that point she wanted nothing more than to get off the line and rake them with lawn mowers.
To quote Jason's infamous line a while back, 'watching the original couple having domestic issues is always refreshing."
"Can you tell your friends to stop smiling? It's annoying." Kim murmured from the corner of her mouth.
"Well, can you tell Trini to stop looking at me as if I'm some escaped murderer on a killing rampage?" Tommy's reply came as bitter as hers.
"I thought she looked like she's expecting you to start ripping off your clothes and making fun of yourself."
"You want to see me strip?" He asked lightly.
"You're hoping that I want to see you strip?" Kim retorted back, chin jutting up.
His laughter sent delicious tingles down her spine. "Relax, Kim, take a deep breath. Being a brat won't make this move any faster."
"Quit analyzing my feelings. The last time I checked you had a PhD for paleontology and not psychology. Do I remotely look like a dinosaur to you?"
Tommy rubbed his chin thoughtfully, pretending to ponder the question. She knew it was an act. "Tricky question. If I say yes you'll shot me with that death glare beam, and if I say no you will ask me to better keep my paleontologist mouth shut."
"Well, at least we know now that you got that PhD based on something."
"So I won't answer that question." He concluded at the end.
"Because I like pissing you off."
"For the love of God, Tommy…,"
"Okay, remember your position, everybody? Good, now the bride and the groom will leave first!" Gabby approached them once more, for a woman her size she was moving with extreme agility, took the liberty to grab her hand and put it around Tommy's arm. His muscles tensed beneath his layer of clothes at the contact. "Come on, off you go! Then, the flower girl and ringbearers will follow them, then the maid-of-honor and best man. The bridesmaids and groomsmen… yeah, good, in pairs! Here come the immediate families…,"
Tommy had to tug her hand to make her move and eventually she ended up dragging him behind her, wanting to finish the whole ordeal as soon as possible. Her erratic manner earned her a nice teasing slap on her back.
"Excited much for the after party already?" Gabby asked with a bright smile, prompting the others to laugh and Kim to go crimson. "Take it easy, your young man won't go anywhere."
"Yeah, Kim, gotta heat the oven first." Tommy said, patting the hand around his forearm and the skin he just touched seemed to burn.
Kim closed her eyes and counted to fifteen. Thirteen... fourteen…fourteen and a half… "Could you please, not talk?"
"I said we're not done, Kim, and I meant it." Tommy said solemnly, taking a more serious approach.
Kim didn't get the chance to reply as Gabby was clapping her hands again, asking for everybody to gather up once more. While she's explaining the order of the seating and introduce the ushers to the family members, Kim began to look around.
Aside from her friends from high school, Kim didn't really recognize most of the guests. Some of Aisha's friends from Kenya had flown in for the special event and Rocky had asked three of his old buddies post The Power to stand up for him. It wasn't really a ranger wedding; it's more like a normal wedding.
The side effect of getting hitched to The Legend was that she knew when she's getting married, almost all incarnation of rangers would be invited. Unless she didn't know if there would still be any wedding to be stressed over now.
She casually glanced at the guests that had settled in their respective seats and had no difficulties to find the person she's looking for, in spite of her seat at the back row. With that height, shiny hair and pouty lips, her presence was glaring. Kim quickly looked away before she caught her snooping on her.
"The music will start and you young men will start walking after the pastor. The groom will be the last one in the line up," Gabby instructed the groomsmen and vigorously walked to Kim, looking at her in earnest. "May I steal your guy for a while?" Gabby asked and pulled Tommy along without waiting for an answer.
Kim wasn't sure which was worse; hearing Gabby addressing them as 'Tommy and Kimberly' or 'the Bride and the Groom' or 'Your Guy and Your Girl'.
As she was standing in the back of the made up aisle with the rest of the girls, conflicted emotions were running through her.
Tommy proposed, she postponed, he threw a possible new girlfriend to her face, and she's standing next to him as his 'bride'.
It's a wonder of the universe that she still could stand up straight.
She had been exposed to countless fairytales and romance stories growing up that she had once believed that the only available answer to every proposal was a huge YES followed with a Hollywood style movie kiss. However, as the years went by and she got older, the wonderful thoughts were soon replaced with terrifying dreams stemming from watching her parent's marriage crumble first hand. Even in the young age of ten, she had been perceptive enough to know that 'coming home late' meant 'screwing his secretary six ways from Sunday'. The infidelity her father committed had led to countless verbal arguments with her mother and when her brother left home to pursue his music career in New York, what little foundation supporting the family finally collapsed.
While she wasn't entirely skittish to men, there was this small part of her that's hiding and waiting, constantly hoping that every guy she was with would do the same thing his father had done. After all, wasn't that how men were created? They're reacting based on penis instinct.
Then Tommy knocked on her door, stepped into her life and for a while everything had seemed to be cotton candy and chocolates. The old uncertainty was still lurking, but she had almost believed that she had finally found the right guy; someone she could trust her heart to and knew that he would keep it safe. If only things had been that simple she would have already had two kids with Tommy now.
But even back then the insecurities were still there. Wasn't it why she sent him that Goddamn letter? Because she's worried that three thousand miles would finally conquer their love? Protecting herself was vital, so she'd rather break his first than vice versa. Kim logic 101.
Maybe that was the reason she couldn't give him an immediate answer to his proposal. Could it be that she was worried that he's going to leave her at the altar at the last minute?
No. She's worried that she would end up hurting him again.
Yeah, Kim, like you haven't. Tommy was right. You shouldn't have needed that extra 29 days.
"The bridesmaids will enter one by one," Gabby further explained, her hands moving animatedly. Whenever she walked passed, she left a trail of strong jasmine scent behind her. "There should be 20 feet interval before the next bridesmaid walk in! And the maid of honor would go the last before the bride," She turned to Kim who's currently body-doubling as the Bride. "Notice the order of the grooms, ladies, and mirror them. You guys are pairings."
Kim watched the ringbearers and flower girls come in next, behaving a little too excited with the paper confetti, and the next second she felt all eyes fall on her.
This was silly. She had performed internationally, audienced by millions of people of various nations, races, and ages and she had no difficulty of bringing home golds. Now there were only probably twenty people around and her stomach twisted in knots and her knees turned to rubber. Some of them weren't even paying attention, preferring to talk between themselves instead. Wonder what you ladies are busy talking about, she mused sarcastically as she caught the flash of familiar electric blue dress.
Aisha Campbell, why did you do this to me!
"Come on, Kimberly," Gabby encouraged. "When you see that everybody is already in position and the music changes, it's your cue to start moving!"
"Yes, sweetheart, get moving!" Jason supplied willingly, eliciting another round of laughter. "Your groom is dying to get hitched."
"Kimberly?" Aisha's father offered his arm, his expression was a mixture between tickled and sympathetic. As petite as Aisha was, her old man was as tall as Magic Johnson.
"Screw this." Kim swore under her breath and firmly laced her hand around his arm. "Let's go."
"Not so fast, Kimberly," Gabby shook a finger in disapproval. "Every bride must move in soaring elegance and gracefulness. Feel the music, feel the sophisticated excitement surrounds you. This is it. The time has come. This is the moment! The sacred time when two people are ready to intertwine their lives together and thus become a part of each other till death do them part. Wedding is the most beautiful thing!"
The music, the sophistication, the soaring elegance! Aisha would love to hear about them.
Oh please, somebody shoot me.
Kim slowed her pace and her heart started to thump faster against her ribcage when Tommy took several steps forward. For once, his face was difficult to read. He was shifting his weight from one foot to the other and his hands were clasped in front of him. It was so easy to let her imagination run free; Tommy waiting for her at the end of the aisle, fully dressed up in black tux and green tie…
She could only imagine all the dreads and efforts he had to go through to build the courage to ask her hand in marriage. It didn't take a genius that it had to be one of the most agonizing time of his life. Tommy might be a lot of things; a leader of various team of power rangers that had piloted some larger than life vehicles, a fighter, a teacher, even a doctor. But when he's standing in front of her he was simply Tommy Oliver, the shy loner from Houston who's going to ask her to the dance at the park.
She wondered if the possibility of her saying no ever flashed across his mind.
It was always easier to break someone's heart than to keep it.
As terrible as everything was to her, it must feel even worse for Tommy. She's not the one proposed and she's not the one that had to stay in the dark cloud of uncertainty for so long.
When they finally arrived at the make-shift podium, Mr. Campbell gave her hand a light squeeze before transferring her to Tommy. The latter caught her trembling hand in his and flashed her a small, tight smile that she couldn't bring herself to return.
It's time to face the music.
St. Marie Louis
Angel Grove – California
Friday, October 11th, 2007
"You should put the ring on your finger," Gabby loop a keychain on Kim's index finger. "Then curl your fingers, yes, like that. That way the ring won't go anywhere. Don't carry them in boxes or put them in your pocket as the chance of losing it will be bigger. The numbers have spoken that of every ten rings misplaced at wedding time, eight have been lost by the maid of honors."
"You hear that, Kim? You better write it down." Tommy whispered.
"Don't worry, my memory is intact, unlike someone's." Kim smiled up sweetly at him.
Gabby motioned for them to stand upright. "Now face me, and while I'm not so sure about this, I don't think you guys want to say your vows now and ruin the fun for everyone, don't you?"
"Yes, I think Aisha and Rocky would like to keep that a secret till the big day." Kim emphasizes, feeling more fed up with Gabby's ignorance. "You know, Aisha and Rocky, our happy couple who's currently stuck in traffic jam right now?"
Gabby waved it off and rubbed Kim's arms in motherly gesture. For the umpteenth time Kim was asking herself what exactly Aisha had told her because the whole thing had begun to feel like a set-up. But then again, 'weddings are the most beautiful thing!' "You guys look happy enough to me. Back to the vows. I'm sure you've been to lots of weddings before, so tomorrow the pastor will say something and you'll have to repeat after him. You'd better say 'I do' though, or all this big production would become such a waste!"
"Oh no worries, I think Aisha and Rocky will say 'I do' even before he's done asking the question." Kim answered tight-lipped, feeling Tommy giving her hand a light squeeze at the tone she's using. He didn't have to bother since Gabby flashed them a blinding smile, clearly unwounded.
"Okay, the rings now. Stop holding hands for a while, just a li-tt-le while, then hold your partner's left hand. Yes, like that. You're going to repeat after what the pastor says as you place the ring on each other's hand. 'With this ring, I thee wed'."
Kim eyed Tommy apprehensively; he's still sporting that same amused expression. One second she wanted to hide in the deepest hole for making him suffer, another second the temptation for delivering a punch on that face for making her suffer was more overpowering.
"Fine, with this ring, I thee wed. Got it. Next? W-wait!" She was struck with another realization. After the ring came the kiss. The kiss. They couldn't possibly kiss. It's just not possible, especially when there's a 75% chance that Tommy had kissed another woman with those same lips.
"What is it?" Gabby asked, slightly irritated at the interruption and not for the first or second time since the rehearsal started that Kim noticed Gabby eyeing her watch impatiently.
"You know how brides are," Tommy volunteered to fill the silence. "They tend to get nervous."
Gabby's laughter filled the air and Jason's sounded even louder than everybody else's. Kim bit her lips. You really can't count on somebody, because obviously everybody was ready to backstab you when they got the chance, even your best friend.
"Nothing. Never mind. Go on. Don't you have to be somewhere else soon? Let's get this over with." Kim said in monotone dry voice.
"You heard the lady." Tommy shrugged.
"Young people nowadays…Okay, face each other now."
"I think your friend is sending me the deadliest death glare right now," Kim remarked softly, using her free hand to push a tendril of hair behind her ear.
"Nobody's glaring at you, Kim." Tommy invaded her personal space in one step forward. She could feel his heat emanating from him like fire and goose-bumps began to form on her skin although it must be pushing 85's outside.
"You know what's coming. Open her veil and you may kiss the bride." Gabby said cheerfully.
Kim wanted to protest that they had to skip the part, but once his eyes were fixated on hers, she was a goner. Everything in her surrounding blurred and faded as she found herself pulled and drowned in those brown orbs she had missed so much, feeling helpless but to surrender to the moment. Tommy tipped her chin gently and she was lost in the warmth of his eyes. Nervous anticipation grew in the pit of her stomach; she couldn't have moved even if she tried to.
Her eyes slowly closed and their lips touched with the most delicate brush…
"Hey guys, we're here!" Aisha declared.
Kim opened her eyes, pulled back and yanked her hand away from Tommy's grasp, startling him with her sudden movement. She didn't know whether she had to be grateful or disappointed.
"So, what did we miss?" Rocky asked, his breaths coming in uneven gasps. Aisha had dragged him all the way from the parking lot.
A lot, Kim said to herself, choosing not to look at Tommy, way lots.
St. Marie Louis
The Powder Room
Angel Grove – California
Saturday, October 12th, 2007
"And everybody has begun to wonder where the Bride has run off to."
Kim smirked, her legs hanging from the counter. Her three inches shoe was strewn about the carpeted floor. It felt wonderful to finally wiggle her toes, out of confinement of the killer heels. "Cut it out. It had stopped being funny when Aisha and Rocky arrived at the crime scene yesterday."
"I thought it stopped when you and Tommy were mistaken as the marrying couple this morning?" Jason chuckled, recalling the awkward moment that had taken place when the minister's wife coming up to Kim and Tommy to congratulate them.
"Poor woman! She's so embarrassed, I almost felt bad for her." Kim grimaced at the memory.
"So what are you doing here? Rocky's looking for you." Jason walked in and slouched down on the comfortable recliner. His tie was peeking from the pocket of his jacket slung on the arm of the chair and Kim noticed with inward smiles that it was blood red with golden stripes. They wouldn't ever let that down, would they?
"Oh, you know, I just needed to get out of the room for a while. Fresh air and all that."
"You're sure you're not avoiding someone?" His tone was teasing and the grin plastered all over his face clinched it. "Trini said she wanted you to dish everything later."
They had been too busy with make-ups, caterers, dresses and calming Aisha's down the last 24 hours that chatting about her love life hadn't been really high in the priority list. "I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm definitely not avoiding Tommy and his date. I'm not even upset with the table arrangement that put me conveniently right across their table."
Seeing Tommy that evening had made her heart ache. Words failed to describe how good he'd cleaned up for the wedding. The only problem was that Gingerbread Girl was there too, holding onto his arm with that long, smooth hand that she'd wishfully hoped Zack still had his Power Axe somewhere.
"Be nice, Isabel is a pretty cool girl," Jason chided, pouring himself a glass of champagne. It was almost warm but still drinkable. He hissed in satisfaction, tongue peeking out to lick his lips.
Kim narrowed her eyes. "You see the door? You can excuse yourself."
Jason broke into peals of laughter. "Don't worry, I'll be out of your hair soon, Trini's waiting for me anyway. But I took it from your words that Tommy hadn't introduced you two?"
"Why would I want Tommy to introduce her new girlfriend to me?" Kim snapped. She had managed to spend the rest of yesterday repossessing her old ninja tricks to avoid Tommy and his friend, gliding here and there like a feline. It had been tiring and completely lame and pathetic.
Adam had told her that Isabel (wow, she has a name!) merely a friend and she had no reasons to believe otherwise. Coming from Adam, she supposed she could take his words for it.
"They were old friends from college. I think Tommy met her at the club," Jason began his tale, uncaring about the lone shoe dangling dangerously from one of her feet. Kicking and aiming an expensive $300 shoe couldn't be that much difficult than firing with her old weapon. "You know, that new club in downtown Reefside that just opened a month ago? Can't remember the name. Starts with an S, or is it a T?"
Kim felt her stomach lurch. A month ago. "Tranquilizer."
"And the super toaster goes to the one and only Kimberly Hart! Right, Tranquilizer. Pretty neat place," Jason went on, putting his half empty glass on the antique coffee table before lacing his fingers together. "Isabel is a sweet, sweet girl. Her mom's from Scotland and her dad is half French and Chinese. Great pool of genes, huh? Variety is the best. You could listen to the accent for hours. She can switch from French to Scottish under a second. Not sure which one's better."
Kim took a sip of the wine in her hand to calm herself and to save Jason from being drenched in the red liquid head down. "As interesting as that sounds, I have no slightest interest to listen to Isabel's family history. You seem to be having fun forcing down those worthless information on me though."
"She's going through a pretty rough breakup," Jason continued. "So Tommy's been helping her out."
Now, why does that scenario sound eerily familiar? "Do you have a death wish or something?"
"I think her girlfriend broke things off because she's Japanese and her family wanted her to date a fellow Japanese guy or something. Cultural issues."
Kim scowled. "Don't tell me that you've been best friend with Isabel all this time and not-," A frown creased her forehead as his words finally dawned on her. "Did you just say-,"
"Should've believed Adam when he said they're just friends." Jason winked, his mouth stretching from one ear to the other like a certain stripped purple cat.
Kim buried her face in her hands, the open toe shoe finally slipping off her foot. "God, Jase, I can't believe it! I thought… you knew and you didn't tell me? Does everybody know that too?"
"You thought Adam was trying to save Tommy's hide, and what kind of man I would be if I out of the blue came to you and boldly told you that Isabel was a lesbian?"
"You would have been a sympathetic and compassionate best friend who actually cared about my sanity and well being," She muttered, recalling the first or tenth time she's thinking about pulling Isabel's hair and throwing her out. Sorry, family only, you're not invited! She had looked like a total idiot."That was crucial information."
"Well, now you know."
"Yeah, only 18 hours late. It was no big deal, at all," Kim sighed. The music and festivity in the main hall filtered through the half opened door. Was that Rocky trying to sing? "Tommy and I got into an argument yesterday. I said some things, he said back several things… it wasn't really pretty."
"More like shouting some things," Jason amended with a chuckle. "From what I've heard."
"God, we're probably the hot topic on Rocky's uncles and auntie's tables last night at the rehearsal dinner! Those incredulous looks they're giving me the whole night… you would think I killed a kitten or puppy."
"What is it that holding you back, Kim?" Jason asked, swiftly bringing the conversation to a new direction. He turned his chair to face her. Her body remained lax against the wall. The question was not unexpected. "Let's say that I haven't seen Tommy this upset ever since you broke up with him. Sometimes not knowing is worse than being rejected, you know."
"Don't you think I know that? When I was in Florida, a huge net of 'not knowing' was constantly floating above my head. Everything seemed to be so perfect when I was home at Christmas. Once I returned to train, I would still get letters from everybody every week or so, asking how I was doing, or telling me about their latest escapades. Tommy wrote me too, but then the frequency of letters turned sporadic before settling down to probably one letter in two months. I knew that Tommy's correspondence skill was close to none existent, but being alone in an entirely foreign city without the much-needed support of my boyfriend was a bit disheartening.
"I used to wonder, what's Tommy doing right now? Why does he never write me anymore? I know he's busy; fighting monsters and finishing homework are not an easy feat. But I'm busy too and I manage to take some time to write or send him a postcard. Has Tommy found a new girlfriend? Is it Kat? It was obvious that Kat has a major crush on him. Why wouldn't he be with her? She's pretty and she's there while I'm chasing my dreams three thousand miles away. Is it fair to make him wait? Is he still waiting for me?"
Kim jumped down and faced the mirror, fishing out mascara from her purse. She frowned when she found several barely there lines around her eyes. "Then I met Simon who reminded me so much of my boyfriend at home and we got to spend lots of time together, him being the coach assistant. I felt bad, trust me, I did, but it was so easy to let him come close when the guy who's supposed to love me seemed to have forgotten about me altogether," Kim sighed and flashed his reflection a small smile. She put the mascara away and began powdering her nose. "What you said before, about being not knowing is worse than being rejected? I didn't like to be kept in the dark and I hated to be rejected. So I wrote Tommy that letter."
Jason nodded. He had heard snippets about what had happened before but never really got the full story. "But you're together now yet you're still afraid of marrying him. Kim, is it because of your parents?"
"It plays a part, yes. My dad called their marriage a mistake," She let out a wry laugh. "And you were there, Jase. My dad cheated on my mom with a number of women and his affairs broke her heart. Soon after I left, Tommy hooked up with Kat. My greatest nightmare was finally realized. Sure, it was my fault. He's free to date anyone after I sent him that letter, but there's still a part of me that hoped he wouldn't. Who says this time will be different? There's no guarantee that we will live happily ever after, have two kids and a big yard with equally big dog running around."
"Tommy loves you, even when he was with Kat he still loved you. It should be enough guarantee."
Kim closed her compact. "Maybe."
"He's right, you know."
Her head turned slightly and she saw the reflection of Tommy leaning on the doorway. He looked handsome and somber and almost as sad as she was. Cold panic crept through her. How long had be been there? How much has he heard?
"I'll take it from here, bro." Tommy nodded to Jason, who stood up fast.
Jason grabbed his jacket and made his way to Kim, dropping a chaste kiss on her cheek. Kim squeezed his hand in reply. He didn't have to say the words; they had known each other for too long. Work it out.
Tommy waited until Jason closed the door behind him and walked deeper into the room. With each step forward her knees were reduced to jelly. He stopped when he's finally standing right across her, leaving a respective space between them. He observed the room briefly and the trademark lop-sided grin appeared. He gestured vaguely at the feminine interior. "Somehow I got the feeling that you're going to love having a powder room at home."
Kim shrugged, secretly appreciating his attempt to lighten up the mood. "Actually, I'd rather have a walk-in closet than a bathroom this big. It doesn't even have a tub."
"Well, if you keep shopping the way you used to, you'd probably have to turn your garage to a closet."
She laughed and they shared a smile or two before silence fell all over them again like a downy blanket.
"You look beautiful."
"I look sick in green," Kim scrunched up her nose, feeling her face redden from both the compliment and his chosen word. The emerald empire waist dress was pretty, but green was never her color. "But you cleaned up well."
"You look wonderful in anything," Tommy disagreed and lifted a hand when she was ready to protest. "Just nod your head and thank me."
His smile was warm and genuine, and she felt her breath catch in her throat. Get a grip, girl! "I'm sorry," Kim blurted out before she lost her nerves, twisting her fingers nervously in front of her. "I shouldn't have been so rude to you yesterday and I probably should have been more friendly towards Isabel."
Tommy looked mildly surprised, but quickly recovered himself. "Isabel has started wondering if you're homophobic or something,"
"What? I wasn't, I'm not-," Kim stopped when she saw that familiar glimmer in his eyes. The corner of her lips lifted up a little. "Jerk."
"Did the apology include 'sorry that I've been avoiding you all month and all day yesterday?'"
"I didn't mean to avoid you," Kim insisted, leaning down to collect her shoes just so she didn't have to look at him. "I was just confused."
She instinctively moved a few steps backwards until her waist was pressed against the counter when Tommy walked closer. "I meant every word I said to you that night. I loved you and I wanted to be with you for the rest of our lives. I thought it would make you the happiest woman in the world. I didn't mean to confuse you."
"And I was, am, the happiest woman in the world!" She dejected, slender shoulders slumping down. "Just knowing that you love me… it's a wonderful feeling."
"But…," He prompted.
"But I'm a girl with issues," Kim said, aggrieved, running her fingers reflectively through her chestnut locks. "When you proposed I was so happy I thought I would faint. But the happiness came one package with anxiety. I love you, Tommy, but I'm also afraid to be with you. We're just getting back together for 2 years. Was 2 years enough? Wasn't it too fast to think about marriage? Were we ready for it? Was I ready for it? Memories of my parents kept nagging on the back of my mind and I was helpless but to run away."
"Kim, I'm not your father." Tommy held her arms, thumbs caressing the skin in circular motion.
Her hand grabbed his and held on tight. "I know you're not. But, I can't trust myself. I'm like a walking bubble of insecurities and hurting you again is the last thing I want to do. I saw how my letter had hurt you, what if I did the same thing again? You're entrusting your heart to me in a lifetime commitment and it's scary. A lifetime is a really long time."
"You won't, Beautiful." He said, trailing his hand up to cup her face in his hands and make her see into his eyes. She saw her past, present and future flashing in his brown orbs, forever intertwined with his. "I'm just as scared as you are. It is quite a big leap that we're taking, but I love you and I know you love me too. I'm willing to trust my heart to you because I know that there's no other person who could take care of it better than you. You stole my heart all those years ago in the hallway of our school and I have no intention to get it back. I won't let your insecurities make you run away from me. Show me that you can trust me with your heart too." His tone was almost pleading.
"But I've caused you so much pain." She whispered, aware that his face was coming closer and closer to hers.
"Then you have a lifetime to make up to it."
And his lips descended on hers.
Kimberly felt her body come alive at the first touch of his lips. The kiss started out languid and gentle, lips familiarizing themselves to each other's taste. She wounded her arms around his shoulders and tip toed to get a better leverage, purring when his hands slid down the length of her back to grab hold of her backside.
Tommy pulled away from her lips abruptly and the protest died in her mouth when he swiftly traced small, wet kisses across her cheek, down to her jaw until he reached her neck. She grabbed a handful of his shirt as he nibbled and suckled at her pulse point, willing him to never stop. If only he wasn't holding her flushed against him, she would have already collapsed to the floor. His heady scent, his presence, he was everywhere.
Kim brought his head up from her neck and pulled him in for another scalding kiss, feeling the need and urgency to be pressed as close to him as possible. His embraced turned to almost salvage but she really couldn't care less when he began to kiss her with more vigor. Her mouth opened at the invitation and her tongue darted out to meet his in a velvety embrace.
The only reason the kiss ended was because of air deprivation and Kim was barely able to tear her lips from his.
"I missed you," She said, not making any attempt to move from the circle of his arms. They were pressed so closed she could feel his ragged heartbeats against her chest. It was all she could do not to let her primal instinct get the better of her and rip his clothes off.
Tommy captured her lips in another kiss, keeping it soft and gentle this time. "I missed you too, Beautiful."
Kim laughed and threaded her arms around his waist, placing her head on his chest and bathing herself in his aftershave. She played with the button of his shirt before lifting her head, chin resting on his chest. "I seem to remember that someone told me that a way to a woman's heart is through gentle kisses, respect, loyalty, dedication, never ending romance…," She bit her lips in an unconscious gesture. "And diamonds."
"Are you sure, Kim?" Tommy asked, pushing a loose hair behind her ear. She closed her eyes when his calloused fingertips stroke her cheek. "I can wait for as long as it takes."
"Even until we're 50?"
"Well, I can wait for as long as we're under 40,"
"Deal," Tommy sealed it with a firm kiss on her forehead. Kim giggled at their silliness. "Maybe we should go to Vegas."
"Jason would kill you," She replied, comforting by the sound of his heartbeat under her ear. "He has been saving his Best Man speech ever since we got back together."
"Well we're not in a hurry. We love each other and I have you now. It's enough."
"But it's not enough for me," Kim interjected, feeling her eyes moist. "I love you and I want to be with you. I want to be your wife. I won't let my stupid insecurities get in the way."
"They're not stupid." He flicked her nose gently.
Kim nudged him in the ribs, lips forming into a slight pout. "Do you want to marry me or not?"
"Well, of course I do!" His face fell. "But, I don't really have the ring with me now."
She rose to the tip of her toes and pressed a lingering, soulful kiss onto his lips that left them more than breathless when they parted. "The ring is just a small detail. I love you and I want to marry you. A million times yes," Her smile turned mischievous; eyes filled with mirth. "Then again, I can't wait to get back at Aisha for letting us do all those rehearsal!"
"You should be thankful that it's just a wedding rehearsal and not Lamaze class."
"Geez, Tommy, don't give them any ideas."
Tommy laughed and kissed the tip of her nose. "Let's get out of here before Aisha and Trini form a search party to look for you. Besides, you owe me a dance, Milady."
Kim nodded but neither moved to break the embrace. She lazily traced his jaw with a slim finger and trailed it down across his chin, stopping just above his belt. "Just want you to know that you're going to be a very happy man tonight."
"Would it be a make-up sex or a celebration sex?"
"As long as it's mind-blowing, I don't really care."
"Well, you'll be seeing lots of stars tonight," Tommy whispered over her ear, nibbling at her lobe gently. "You wouldn't even need a telescope."
"I think I can handle your telescope just fine, thank you very much."
"Kim," Tommy warned, feeling a certain thing stir.
Her laughter was the best sound he had ever heard. "Let's get out of here, Handsome."
:) I hope you liked it.