Well, happy New Year guys. I actually came back from my write-free holiday a week ago so that's why I'm delayed. And I'm sure you'd like to get into it. So I won't keep you waiting.

Disclaimer: I don't own them.

Chapter 18

Robbie stifled a yawn into his palm as he made his way downstairs. His eyes squinting at the harsh morning light, trying to clear his vision. "Honey, have you seen my glasses?" he asked loudly.

"You left it on the table last night," was yelled back from the kitchen.

Taking a detour into the kitchen, he loosened his tie feeling a bit too choked up in his standard office suit. As soon as he stepped into the kitchen, his glasses appeared magically in place attached to a gorgeous redhead. Instantly, his arms wrapped around his wife, a wide grin adorning his face.

"My vision Gods thank you." He bent his head and kissed her loudly.

Cat giggled into the kiss pushing against his shoulders. "Vision Gods?"

"Too dorky?" He raised a brow.

"A bit." She smiled fondly kissing him again.

He chuckled, releasing his wife trying not to crease her own work attire. "Don't let the kid know. She will never let me live it down."

"Probably not… But I don't think she'd pay mind to it these days."

He slanted her a look as he began buttering a slice of toast. "You've noticed the change in her behavior too?"

"Of course, I'm a woman. We always notice these things." The redhead waved him off as she picked up her coffee again.

"Right…" He smirked, taking a bite of his toast. "So, I'm guessing her good mood over the past few weeks has something to do with who she snuck out to see last night?"

Cat grinned beneath the mug. "Very perceptive for a guy… I knew, I married you for something."

He rolled his eyes. "And here, I thought it was because I was a successful lawyer, I have dangerous curly hair and I'm oozing with boyish charm."

The redhead laughed. "Well, that too."

"I'm happy for her."

"Me too." She nodded. "It's just been too much. I'll admit, when we brought her back here, I wasn't sure she would adapt back. Too many memories, you know. And especially since we stopped her therapist session."

Polishing off the last of his toast, he walked up behind her and circled his arms around her waist. His chin resting on her shoulder as she relaxed against him. "We didn't stop it, Cat. She didn't want to go and you know we couldn't force her. She hated it. But I think bringing her back was the right thing to do. Also I think her job with Tori has done wonders too. She's playing again. I mean, look at her now. Sometimes I catch her smiling."

"Yeah, Tori's been wonderful." Cat smiled. Her usually dark niece was adjusting more than she hoped. "Though Jade's in love, I think."

"I see it too." He kissed the side of her head. "So when do we get to meet this girl?"

Cat threw her head back and laughed hard. "You sounded exactly like Wally."

He laughed too and twirled her around in his arms. "Well, I'm glad. Someone has to protect his girls."

"I love you, you know." She reached up and captured his lips with her own.

"I may have guessed." He smiled and deepened the kiss. They broke apart at the sound of someone clearing their throat.

"I really hope you guys brushed your teeth," Jade muttered as she opened the fridge and pulled out the milk.

Robbie released his wife, eyeing out the Goth as she grabbed a bowl from the cupboard. "I'd say you're just jealous because you don't have your own beautiful woman to make out with." He flashed Jade an impish grin as he handed her the Coco Pops that was on the counter. "But I hear that's not the case these days."

Jade looked at him sharply, her brows knitted, desperately trying to contain the blush that threatened to embarrass her more. She should have known Cat would have told him. "I, um… So?" Smooth.

He held back his chuckle at her uncharacteristic flustered state. Instead, using it to his advantage. "So? Why don't you bring her for dinner one of these days?"

"What?" The Goth managed, her spoon frozen inches from her mouth.

"Yes!" Cat nodded enthusiastically, liking the idea. "What about Friday night for my birthday dinner?"

"That's a great idea, Cat." Robbie agreed. "The more the merrier."

"Wha –" The Goth tried again.

"So it's settled then. All you have to do is ask her." The redhead practically beamed, mentally calculating if she had enough ingredients for the chicken she was planning. "I might have to go to the supermarket again later this week though."

"I can go for you on my break if you're too busy," Robbie offered.

"Hey! Wait a minute!" Jade shouted, slamming her hand on the table abruptly drawing their attention. "Nothing is settled... I can't ask her."

"Why not?" Her aunt asked.

Because she's already invited.

"Um, well…" The Goth blinked, scratching the back of her neck. "Her family's going out of town?" she volunteered, awkwardly.

Cat seemed to frown at her niece. "Mrs. Tatum didn't mention that they were going away when I spoke to her at the supermarket, yesterday."


Small towns, the Goth thought couldn't lie about this since Cat or Robbie were going to supermarket later in the week and Jessica's family owned the place. Fuck. She had more pressing problems to worry about.

"Uh, maybe they changed their minds," Jade suggested, backpedaling.

"Maybe… " The redhead nodded, slowly. "I can ask Jessica's mother if I get a chance today, if you want me to make sure."

"No!" Jade snapped a little too quickly, startling them. She winced internally. "I mean, no… it's okay, I'll ask her." She deposited her half eaten cereal into the sink. "Anyway, I should get to school." She grabbed her knapsack off the floor. "Bye." Leaving her aunt and uncle bemused, she rushed through the door.

… … … … … … … … … … … … …

Tori was reclined on the couch, her feet settled comfortably on Andre's lap as he went through a stack of papers. She watched Jade pace her living room, occasionally peeking behind the now closed curtains in search of god knows who.

The Goth assumed she wasn't followed from school, taking as many detours as possible until she reached Tori's house. They had agreed to meet after school the next day with Andre and then see where they went from there. So, now, she's been here for over fifteen minutes listening to the eerie silence of Andre's reading and watching her passive girlfriend wait.

It wasn't as if Tori was calm about the whole thing. No, that wasn't it at all. By the dark rings that circled her eyes, it seemed she also had a restless night.

Jade stopped and perched her hip against the piano, arms folded over her chest. A sad smile graced her face when brown eyes met hers. Tori's lips curled slightly in response.

The Goth adjusted her attention back to Tori's best friend. Unable to take the silence for another moment, she groaned, "So?"

Andre picked his head up from the papers in front of him and grinned. "So? You actually think I'm a lawyer who knows something?" he teased. He chuckled at the scowls he received from both women, holding up a hand. "Okay, okay, so… I don't see what's the problem."

"What?" Jade looked at him, puzzled.

He shrugged and began stacking the papers together in an orderly fashion. "Jade, contrary to popular belief, I'm very organized. They can't make any charges stick on Tori." He held up a finger. "One, you two had a tryst before you were even properly registered to Rosewood. I have Murphy who remembers you were there that night. Though it took some coaxing to make him a stand in witness because he can lose his liquor license selling to underage drinkers." He glared at her but she only shrugged in a 'like you've never done it' way.

Andre sighed and continued. "He only agreed after I promised him that wouldn't happen. Two, the little breakout you had in Tori's classroom. We will just avoid that and go with it was more a violent outburst than anything sexual. And three, you weren't involved with Tori as a registered teacher. She doesn't have any employee/employer policies so you guys are perfectly legal." He put his notes down on the coffee table and cocked his head at Tori. "But this one here, knows all that. So, I repeat… what's the problem."

"He didn't see the picture, did he?" Jade asked, her shoulder's sagging in relief at all the things Andre said. This meant, legally they were in the clear.

Tori shook her head. "Not yet, I thought you should understand all the legal stuff before we show it to him."

"What picture?" Andre questioned, his eyebrow shooting high on his forehead.

The Goth reached for the brown envelope that was sitting on the piano and handed it to him. "Besides the anonymous tip, that came in Tori's mail." She nodded to the object in his hand.

The lawyer studied the brown envelope for a moment in confusion and slowly lifted up the flap. He carefully slid out the large photograph. His eyes popping out of his skull as he jumped up, Tori's feet slipping to the floor hard. "Holey fucking shit!" His voice echoed through the house. Smurf, who was lying on the plush rug, lifted his ears. "No fucking way! This is you guys! No sex, huh?" There was a hint of awe and a chuckle in his tone as he looked down at his blushing best friend. "Jesus… this is so hot."

Sitting up, Tori smacked him on the back of his knee causing him to fall back in his seat. "Andre, this is not a joke."

"No, this should be on the cover of lesbian weekly." He threw in a mock whistle. "I mean, if I was woman, I'd so turn after I saw this." He couldn't tear his eyes away from the picture. And was pretty sure he'd need to use the restroom soon.

"He's your best friend?" Jade said, dryly.

"Unfortunately." Tori rolled her eyes. "Give me that!" she growled and snatched the picture away from him.

"Hey! I was looking at that!" he whined.

"Well, did you happen to notice the bold writing that streaked across it?"

"Actually… Itriedtoavoidthatpart," he grumbled really fast. At the glare that earned, he rolled his eyes. "We'll be in touch and a small star on the right bottom corner," he recited in a beaten tone.

"Star?" The Goth frowned as she took the photo from Tori and scanned it again. Indeed, there was a small marker drawn star in the bottom corner. She handed it back.

"So, let me guess. You're assuming that it's the same person that called in as well?"

Jade nodded. "It makes sense, doesn't it?"

"Yes, it's logical… Well, did this person get in touch?"

Tori and Jade glanced at each other before shaking their heads.

"I thought so." He continued, letting out a few chuckles. "So some strange punk caught on and wants to scare you by playing the big bad blackmailer. I say, let him... All we'll have to do is clear this up with the school. He can't touch us legally."

"Like throw what we have at them if it comes to that?" the Goth asked carefully.

"Something like that… yeah." He nodded smugly. "Then all problems are solved, blackmailer's gone. Now, can I please see that picture again?" He pleaded.

"Not all problems, Andre." Tori contradicted him, pulling the envelope out of reach just as he made a grab for it. "Or did you forget our main concern here? What if he is not aiming on a legal front?"

"Like What? Cat?" He grumbled, quite miffed when she wouldn't give him the photograph. "What about her? This doesn't exactly make big local news, Tori... All they will have to go on is 'ex teacher gets off on student affair' –excuse the pun."

She rolled her eyes, her annoyance plain on her face. "So, you really think it was just a coincidence that she was assigned to this?"

He sighed, knowing he wasn't getting that photograph, at least until the next century. "Do you think it's not?"

"I don't know what to think… But it seems too radical that she was specifically chosen for something she doesn't normally do."

He shrugged, pondering it over. "Yeah… I guess, but Jade said that they were shorthanded down at the paper."

"That's what Cat said." The Goth added.

"That may be." Tori hedged with a frustrated sigh. "But it's too perfect. And why the press first? Think about it, Andre… You have a crime to report, who do you normally tell first? Who?"

"The police, obviously," he answered offhandedly. His confident demeanor drained, suddenly. "The police…" he repeated softly, the cogs in his head seemed to be turning. His eyes broadened as he stared at his best friend. "No wait, you don't think –"

"Yeah…" The brunette blew out a breath.

"What?" Jade prodded, watching Andre suddenly pale.

"Fuck…" He stood, running his hands down his face. He gazed at his best friend. "This bastard is fucking with us."

"I'm getting that impression." Tori retorted, feeling too agitated to sit, herself.

"Shit." He grunted, shaking his head and paced the living room.

"What!" Jade stared perplexed between the two. "What! You don't think what? Who's fucking with us!"

Andre stopped directly in front of the raven haired woman. "Whoever is doing this knows exactly who you guys are…"

"So? That rounds up what? The whole fucking town knows who we are." She stated, shrugging her shoulders, agitation thickening in the warm air. "Or did you forget we live in a small town?"

"No, Jade… the whole fucking town knows who you are!" He griped, sticking a finger into her chest. "Not her…" He turned and pointed swiftly at Tori. "They know her as Tori Vega… Not as Victoria Vega, daughter of international music maestro –and douchebag father–David Vega!"

Tori fit herself between their two battling glares, staring up at her young girlfriend. "Jade…" Her calmer voice drew heated blue eyes to her. "Not many people know I'm related to him. I've tried to keep that as private as possible. There's only one other person in this town that knows beside Andre."

"Me?" Jade's voice was small, her expression softening. She felt humbled in that moment knowing that the brunette had trusted her implicitly even before they really got to know each other.

"Yes, you…" Tori nodded, smiling shyly.

Andre snorted in amusement at the pure love that shone between them. "Okay… You two can make goo goo eyes later. We have a blackmailer who knows the ins and outs of your situation to contend with."

Jade's beckoning smile turned into a scowl. "Well, you're the lawyer. You're supposed to find loop holes that get us out of sticky situation. What's our best option?"

"Right now… Nothing…"

"Nothing?" Tori's brows were drawn tightly.

"We can't do anything yet, Tori. Our main concern is the press and the tabloids. And we don't know how adverse this bastard is. If he got lucky on Cat or he is the reason she's leading this story. We don't know. The only information we have now, is there's going to be an investigation in the near future." Frustration coated his words. He didn't usually feel so helpless. "But they are going to be looking at current students and current teachers. Maybe, that's what he wants. To show you who is in charge. One false move, he leaks you and I mean the real you."

"So, what, we actually wait for this asshole to be in touch?" Tori let out a laugh that trickled with sarcasm.

"Hey, I don't like it any more than you do," he snapped back.

"And what if we tell Cat?" The Goth wondered.

"I don't think that's a good idea, yet." He chuckled nervously. "We can't deal with all the drama that entails on top of this. Especially, if she takes it in the extreme negative box. Our best bet is to find out what he wants first and then act accordingly."

"So then what do we do? Just act normally until then?"

"Exactly that…" Andre nodded. "When the investigation starts up, they are going to be looking at what doesn't seem normal. You guys need to keep up your usual routine. If things change suddenly, people are going to notice and you know in this small town…" he trailed off, as if stating the obvious.

There was a silent pause as things were processed in everyone's minds. With one last defeated sigh, Andre spoke. "I need a beer. You guys want anything?"

"No thanks," Tori said as Jade shook her head. His lips drew in a thin smile as he walked towards the kitchen, sensing they needed time to mull this over.

Jade came up behind the brunette sliding her arms around her waist and sighed. "You know what I wish…" she whispered once they were completely alone, aside from Smurf who was snoring on the rug.

"What?" Tori fell into her young lover, taking comfort from the sweet embrace.

"That we could just go back to Sunday morning."

Tori couldn't help but smile at the memory of them in her bed tangled together in bliss of their lovemaking. "Me too."

"We'd still be sleeping, letting the rest of the world rot."

The brunette giggled, twirling in Jade's arms to face her. "What are you talking about, we hardly slept."

Jade smirked, sheepishly, happy to see a genuine smile on the brunette's face for the first time today. "You didn't complain then."

"And I'm not complaining now." Tori leaned up.

The Goth bent her head. "Good," she murmured, brushing their lips together softly, once. They stared into each other's eyes, the love between them very evident –as well as fear for the unknown.

This time when their lips met, the kiss was deeper, almost hypnotic –draining reality away. Tori's fingers tangling into thick raven hair as Jade's hands planted themselves on her lover's butt melting their bodies together. Lips parting, tongues caressing, warm breaths cascading into one and the same as they clung frantically to each other. Tori whimpered softly as the Goth squeezed the flesh beneath her fingers breaking the kiss, remembering that Andre was just in the other room. Their eyes were sealed as their bodies began to calm, yet neither parted from their embrace.

"We'll be alright…" Jade whispered.

Tori's chocolate eyes unfastened to a harsh reality as the Goth's words hung in the air. Underneath them was neither a statement nor a question but more of a silent plea. Cradling Jade's soft cheek, she peered up into the purest blue eyes she's ever known. "I won't let anything happen to you or the people we love, Jade," she vowed, knowing that she would even bite the bullet and deal with her father to keep that promise.

Jade sucked her back into her arms, simply savoring the feeling she wished she would never have to relinquish. Their emotions were both running on high, she noticed. "Cat insisted that I bring my girlfriend to her birthday dinner on Friday," she mumbled into Tori's hair wanting to get on a more normal topic. Well, normal for them…

Tori chuckled lightly into the Goth's chest. "I thought I was already invited."

"Yeah… My other one."

"Your other…" The brunette's head popped back, her laughter dying fast. "Wait what?"

Jade laughed sheepishly. "Did I forget to mention that Cat thinks that Jessica is my girlfriend?"

"Yes, I think you did." Tori's eyes narrowed. "Why does she think Jessica is your girlfriend?"

"Well, when I tried to tell her about us, she started going on about the student/teacher thing and somehow she decided Jessica was what I want to tell her about. I didn't know what to do because I couldn't tell her about us. So, I didn't correct her. " The Goth let hang, waiting for a response. She started to panic when the silence stretched on.

Then Tori simply shook her head and chuckled sadistically. "And the plot thickens. How are you going to pull this off?"

"I have to think of something." Jade shrugged, relieved Tori didn't take it badly. "We've always been so open as a family. Cat and I always used to bring our dates home and endure tons of embarrassment from mom and dad. But we never felt uncomfortable." The thought bringing a slight smile to her face. "She's gonna think something is up if I don't."

"Maybe, you should just ask Jessica to come?"

"I could. I know she likes me. But you'd be okay with that?" The Goth cocked an eyebrow.

"Of course, I understand." The brunette merely smiled and leaned up giving Jade a chaste kiss on the cheek. "Lucky for you, I'm not the jealous type."

… … … … … … … … … … … … …

Friday came all too quickly and still no word from their so called blackmailer. Tori and Andre pulled up to the Shapiro house as the last of the sun set over the horizon.

"It's been almost a week, Andre and still nothing. It's driving me insane!" she continued ranting as she jumped out of the car.

"I know…" He sighed sympathetically, grabbing the gift box in the back seat. "Did you at least think about what I asked you?"

"Yeah…" Tori released the latch on the small metal gate and they both walked into the yard. "I can't think of anyone who knows who I am. No one that's from this town."

Her insane ex-girlfriend was still working in the next town, yet she didn't know where the brunette lived. But even if Kelly did know where she lived this was definitely not her style. She was usually the flashy type. If she was screwing with someone she would want them to know from the start who it was that was fucking them over. So that's a total bust.

"No one that's from this town that you've told. " Andre pointed out. "Well, did your girlfriend tell anyone?"

"What?" she asked, incredulously and glared at her best friend for even thinking it.

He defensively held the box between them. "Hey, I'm just covering all our bases here."

"Then why don't you ask her?"

"Because then she'd just kick my ass and you'd like that, wouldn't you?" He glared back, accusingly.

"Immensely." She managed a grin.

"Just remember you only have one best friend and one lawyer. And in this case they happen to be one and the same."

"Yeah… yeah, I know. I'll protect you." She patted his back as they reached door.

"That reminds me… Where's the photo? I need it."

Tori's hand hovered over the doorbell. "It's at home and why do you need it?"

"Well, isn't it obvious?" At her blank face, he sighed. "I'm the lawyer… I need to protect the evidence."

"Yeah… And who's going to protect it from you?" She snickered.

He gave her a wry look. "You know, you're going to regret it when someone steals it and we need it to charge the sick son of a bitch."

"Well, if that happens… I'll know who to check first," she countered and proceeded to ring the doorbell.

"Tori… be reasonable."

"Fine." She let out a resigned sigh. "I'll give it to you when we get home."

"Yes!" he hissed and composed himself when she raised a brow. "So, I can safe guard it, you know." He shrugged.

"Uh-huh." She rolled her eyes. They waited a few seconds before the door swung open.

Jade's smile was full-blown as soon as she spotted the brunette on the other side of the door. "Hey."

"Hey." Tori returned the smile with the same intensity.

"What no staggered expressions this time? I want my money back." He teased, earning a swat on the arm almost dropping the box. "Ow… careful."

Tori shook her head as they stepped inside. "I'm sorry, he forgot to take his meds this morning."

"Does he ever?" The Goth replied dryly.

"Now you guys are just being mean," he huffed, lumping the present into Jade's startled arms. "So, where's the birthday girl?" His tone was chipper again.

"She's upstairs and Robbie will be home in a few minutes with the cake." Jade told them, placing the box on the passage table as she led them into the dining room.

"What type of cake?"

"I'm not sure…" The Goth cautiously gazed at both entrances to the room before asking. "So did anything happen on your end?"

"Nothing… yet." Tori shook her head, gravely, keeping her voice down. "You?"

"Apart from Cat's meeting with the principal, no. School's been pretty normal this week. I don't think they want to alarm anyone as yet."

"Hmmm… make sense." Andre hummed, thoughtfully.

"What makes sense?" Robbie asked casually, startling the entire room. He put down the white cake box, eyeing everyone curiously.

"Hey Robbie, how's it going?" Tori intercepted and gave him a quick hug.

He grinned. "Great, so what makes sense?"

"That you'd go to Jefferson's to get a cake." Andre hastily supplied with an awkward laugh. "They always make the best cakes in town."

"I would assume so since they are the only bakery in town."

"Well that too."

"So, where's Cat?" Tori asked trying to steer the conversation onto less risky territory.

"Right here!" The redhead's elated grin spread widely over her face as she practically bounced into the room. "Hey everyone."

"Happy birthday, Red." Andre grabbed the petite and giggling redhead in his arms and spun her around. He placed a smacking kiss on her cheek. "My, my, don't you look like your practically glowing? Did Robbie give you an early birthday present?" He wiggled his eyebrows, suggestively.

She giggled and slapped his arms, her cheeks turning red. "Andre… no, I'm just happy we get to have a nice family dinner."

"That was my second guess." He grinned releasing her into Tori's arms.

"Happy birthday Cat." Tori gave her friend a friendly squeeze. "I rarely agree with Andre but he is right. You look absolutely wonderful."

"Thanks…" The redhead smiled coyly. "Alright, so, we're just waiting on one more person and then we can dig in." As soon as she said it the doorbell rang. "Speak of the devil…"

"I'll get it." Robbie who was closest to the door volunteered.

"One more person?" Andre enquired.

"Jade's girlfriend." Cat informed, beaming innocently.

"Caaaaat…" Jade moaned burying her face in her hands. Wondering how on earth she was going to come out of this alive.

"Oh right, ground rules…" The redhead sighed. "No referring to her as your girlfriend. No prying into your dates or talking about it them at all. Practically, pretending like they didn't exist because she doesn't feel comfortable sharing her private life." She hooked her fingers into air quotes. "Just refer to her as your friend if I have to. Did I miss anything?"


"I didn't think so. You reminded me like a hundred times." Her aunt said wryly. "You guys make dating so complicated."

"You have no idea…" Jade grumbled under her breath.

Andre's eyebrows hitched high on his forehead. "I'm definitely missing something, aren't I?"

"Yep…" Tori whispered so low that he was the only one who could hear. "Cat thinks Jessica is Jade's girlfriend so she's invited for dinner."

"Ohhhh…" he whispered back when things became clearer. "I take it back… You can keep my money. This should be entertaining."

Tori rolled her eyes as Robbie stepped back into the dining room with a pretty brunette girl on his heel. "Lookie, who I found."

"Jessica, honey, I'm so glad you could make it." Cat's smile was warm as she took the girl in a brief hug.

"Happy birthday, Mrs. Shapiro and I'm glad Jade invited me." Jessica returned the smile, her twinkling green eyes straying to the Goth across the table.

"It's Cat… Mrs. Shapiro makes me sound so old. I'm only six years older than Jade, you know."

"Really, that young?" Jessica asked causing the redhead to throw her head back and laugh.

"I think I like you already." Jade's aunt commented. "You know Andre and Tori, right?"

"Of course… Hi Ms. Vega."

Tori chuckled at the formality of her former student. "Hi Jessica, but it's just Tori here, okay?"

"Okay." The teenager smiled.

Cat slung an arm around her niece's guest. "Great. Come. Sit. We have a family tradition to uphold."

"Which is?"

"Telling embarrassing stories about Jade."

Jessica laughed as she was led into a seat next to Jade. "Ah… now I'm really glad you invited me."

"Cat…" Jade warned in a low growl.

"What? You didn't specify that in the ground rules." She gave a sinister grin as they all took their places around the table…

… … … … … … … … … … … … …

Everyone around the table were in the throes of laughter. Except for Jade who wore what looked like a pained grimace, her ears flaming red. Cat took the tradition to a whole new level.

"No way!" Jessica managed through her laughter.

"Yes way!" Cat affirmed with a vigorous nod. "Jade was a regular Casanova at the mere age of sixteen."

"I was not." Jade reached for the gravy bowl the same time Jessica did, their hands accidently brushing for the third time that night. Their gaze meeting at the contact and Jessica winked. Quickly, she handed the bowl to Jessica and jumped back into the conversation. "You just like making stuff up," she told her aunt.

To Tori's surprise, she kept feeling her ire rise at every innocent and playful touch. Jessica was a sweet girl, she knew that. But the older brunette couldn't explain it. As the night went on she kept having irrational urges to dump the same gravy bowl over her sweet little head. And she wasn't the only one to notice it didn't seem to be an accident as Andre covertly wiggled his brows at her each time, fueling her. Pushing back her jealousy, she ignored his teasing and listened to Cat continue her story.

"Anyway, it was summer break and I was home from college. I was on my second date with Robbie that Saturday night. " Cat smiled at her husband before continuing. "We were taking a walk through park, holding hands for the very first time. The stars were glowing so brightly and there were only whisper of the other couples wandering around. It was a perfect night for romance," she murmured softly, that night clear in her head. "Then the next thing you know, Jade is raging through the park with a dog chasing her."

Everyone burst out laughing at the anti-climax.

"That was you!" Robbie sounded surprised. "Why didn't I know that?"

"Like you wouldn't run if a dog was chasing you," the Goth scoffed, her face blazing scarlet.

"Why was a dog chasing you?" Tori laughed, unable to imagine her overly composed lover in such a clumsy role.

"Yes, Jade… tell us. Why you were being chased by a dog?" Cat fluttered her eyelashes, sweetly.

"Cat… I hate you," she grumped as everyone eagerly awaited her answer. "Well, I was at a friend's house while her parents were out. We were playing cards."

"Which is code for making out." Cat corrected.

"Hey… there was card playing at some point." Jade defended weakly, sending everyone in another frenzy of chuckles. "So anyway, while we were –" She glared at Cat. "–playing cards, the front door opened. Her parents were home and she started panicking because she didn't tell them she would be having company. So, she made me jump out of the window. What she failed to mention was that they had a big, insane dog that decided he was bored with his life and chased me all the way home." She sighed.

"And he didn't leave empty handed either. He took a small chunk of her butt, she couldn't sit down for two week." Cat added before the laughter started again. Once everyone managed to calm down, the redhead's smile turned a little sad. "Ella and Wally would have loved telling this story."

Jade's embarrassment faded and she straightened. "Wait, they knew?"

"Of course they knew… It was too good to keep to myself."

"Traitor." She stuck out her tongue. "That explains why they kept making me do things sitting down." She remembered with a wry but soft smile.

"Well, that was a tale for the ages." Jessica grinned, wiping her hands on a napkin as she rose. "Mind if I use the restroom?"

"Not at all." Cat wiped her mouth and looked at her niece. "Jade show her where it is."

"Sure." The Goth excused herself, leading the way upstairs.

"So that's a thing with you then?" Jessica asked when they were alone, half way up.


"Kissing and running." There was a teasing twinkle in green eyes.

The Goth let out a shaky laugh. "Not always…"

"You know what I don't get though?"

"What's that?" Jade questioned, as they stopped gesturing to the open bathroom.

"For that girl, you were given a reason to run." Jessica smirked, slanting against doorframe. "What about me?"

"What about you?"

The teenage brunette laughed. "Oh c'mon, Jade, we were making out for five whole minutes and then you just ran." She arched her brow, her fingers running seductively up Jade's hand. "Any particular reason why?"

"I, well…" the Goth stammered feeling slightly uncomfortable. But she also didn't want to embarrass the girl by yanking her hand away. "Um… Tori."

"Tori?" Jessica asked, puzzled. Jade indicated over her shoulder to where Tori came up behind them.

"Oh hey, I thought you guys would be done by now." Tori wore a friendly smile.

"Sorry, I'll just be a few minutes." Jessica was the one who pulled her hand away and escaped into the bathroom.

They both heard the click of the lock before Tori nudged her young lover with her shoulder. "Five whole minutes, huh?"

The Goth winced. "You heard that…"

"Well, she wasn't exactly whispering."

Jade noticed the slight mischief in Tori's tone. An impish smirk growing on her own lips. "And you were just coming up the stairs because…"

Tori's eyes widened incredulously at the insinuation. "What? I also had to use the restroom."

The Goth snickered. "Right… You can use mine." She grabbed the brunette's hand dragging her into her room and shut the room behind them. Before Tori could get out another word, a hot mouth was on hers. Their lips moved together in a much awaited kiss. Bodies molding tightly in a familiar pattern until the kiss became too overwhelming to not do more. It broke mutually, both deparately trying to catch their breaths before Jade murmured, "I missed you, today."

"I missed you too." Tori's breath jammed in her throat as the Goth lowered her lips to her neck. "Jade…" she moaned softly.

"Mmmm?" Jade hummed, nipping the soft skin under her mouth. Her hands slipped under Tori's shirt craving feel of warm flesh.

Tori's eyes fell closed, tingles shooting through her body, her hands buried into raven hair. "Someone can walk in…"

"Don't worry, I'm not going to tear your clothes off and throw you on my bed…"

"Oh God," the brunette whimpered, feeling her lovers words go straight between her legs. "Jade?"


"You're on a date with another woman, you know?"

Jade's lips curled ever so slightly as she slowly withdrew her hands. "Oh yeah… how could I forget? I should probably go ravish her instead, huh?"

Tori blinked, confused, her body suddenly cold when Jade released her and headed for the door. Reaching it, she turned the handle and opened it slightly until Tori shut it firmly again. Jade was whirled around and pressed into the door in one smooth move with strength she had no idea her lover possessed. Her mouth captured roughly, her hands tugged and repositioned back under the brunette shirt. Jade chuckled and returned the kiss with equal fervor. She felt Tori smile under her, fueling her desire almost to the point of no return.

"Punk," Tori murmured against the Goth's lips.

Jade smirked deviously, her hands making slow circle on the small of the brunette's back. "Problem?"

"Yeah, if you think I'm letting you anywhere near Ms. Touchy and her loose tongue."

"Ms. Touchy? Loose tongue?" Jade couldn't help but laugh. "I thought you told me she was nice."

Tori scowled. "That was before I found out she made out with you for five whole minutes!"

"That was ages ago," Jade snorted, amused blue eye meeting seething brown. She picked at Tori's hair. "Not the jealous type, hmm?"

The brunette sighed. "It's your fault. You bring it out in me." She rolled her eyes at the smug look she received. "And you're enjoying it, aren't you?"

"A little bit." Jade grinned and then yelped when stray fingers dug into her sides. "Okay, okay I'm not! I'm not! " They both laughed softly after Tori relented. She savored a few more seconds of Tori in her arms before she spoke. "Want to know a secret?"

"Sure…" Tori's smile was the warm sincere one that Jade loved.

"For most of those five minutes, it was you," she revealed in a whisper.


"I imagined I was kissing you."

"Really?" Tori was stunned.

"Really… I could never get you out of my head, Vega." Jade smiled gently. "I never can…"

In that single moment whatever petty insecurities Tori had vanished. The young woman in front of her never ceasing to amaze her...

… … … … … … … … … … … … …

Not lingering too long and after Tori used the bathroom, they joined the rest of the gang downstairs. The only odd glance they got was from Andre which they have learned to ignore.

Eventually, everyone settled in the living room, eating the birthday cake and keenly watching Cat open all of her presents on the floor. Jade was seated next to Jessica, knowing it was expected. Whereas Tori sat opposite from them on the three-seater with Andre and Robbie.

"Okay." The redhead held the medium gift wrapped box near her ear. "This final one is from Tori and Andre," she announced, shaking the contents trying to figure out what was inside. "What is it?"

"Something you and Robbie can use right here or in the bedroom," Andre answered with a devilish smirk.

"Uh, should I be afraid?" Cat looked nervously at the package.

Tori laughed and shook her head. "Don't listen to him. He's just being a jerk. I picked it out."

Taking the comfort in the brunette's words, Cat tore into the wrapping paper, squealing in delight when she saw the complete box set of Harry Potter.

"What did I say?" Andre complained and waved her off. "I simply assumed they have a DVD player in their room."

Cat jumped up from her seat on the floor and hugged them both, enthusiastically. "Thanks, you guys! I love Harry Potter!"

Tori chuckled into the embrace, hugging back. "We know."

"Yeah thanks guys…" Robbie muttered grimly. "You do realize this is all I'll be watching for the next ten years."

"Try twenty, pal." Cat shot him a challenging look as she put it on the coffee table with the rest of her gifts. She started to pick up the bits and pieces of stray wrapping paper off the floor. "Well that's it folks."

"Well, you sure raked in this year, Red." Andre gave a whistle at the amount of content that almost covered the table completely.

The redhead grinned. "I sure did… But this is nothing. The whole day I've been getting flowers and cards sent to me."

"Explains why this place looks like the rainforest," Andre said as he glanced around, half a dozen bouquets of exotic flowers touched each corner of the room. He smacked Robbie on the back. "Wow man, I didn't know you had it in you."

Robbie simply chuckled and shook his head. "I wish it was but it wasn't me. I actually want to track this person down and give them a piece of my mind for making me look bad."

"It wasn't you?" Jade sounded surprised. "Then who?"

Cat shrugged her shoulders. "I have no idea, the cards that came with them were anonymous." She walked over the cabinet, opening it and took out the cards. She handed them to Tori. "Here, take a look."

Jade and Jessica huddled closer to the group as everyone watched Tori go through the cards.

"These are very unusual for birthday cards," Tori pointed out, noticing the odd covers of each card that had no relation to a birthday whatsoever. "They don't even have birthday greetings on the front."

"Yeah," Jessica spoke up. "It looks like someone just took a photo and printed it on the front. And not very good shots either. "

Everyone nodded in agreement as Tori selected the first card. It was an unusual shot of grass near the corner of what seemed to be a fence. Dark brown stained wooden planks rising from the grass. One of the planks appeared to have crescent type dent in it. The brunette opened the card and in the center, printed, was a simple happy birthday.

She shrugged and moved onto the next one. It was a photo of school desks lined up neatly in a row. The back wall covered in posters. Clearly a classroom.

"Hey, isn't that our Lit classroom?" Jessica asked, breaking the silence.

"What?" Tori jerked sharply towards the teenager.

"I'm just saying that looks like our Lit class, doesn't it Jade?" She pointed to one of the posters on the back wall. "That looks like the same Romeo and Juliet poster we had in our Literature class."

Jade studied it, carefully. "Yes, it looks like our classroom." Her eyes then darted to Tori. "Or more like your classroom. But didn't you take it with you when you left, Vega?"

"I did," the brunette responded, unsurely. Her eyes straining as she took in the scene again. She let out a silent gasp, some of the cards slipping of her hands.

Andre, reacting like lightening, grabbed a few, only one falling to the floor. "Hey, are you okay?" he asked, concern laced in his voice as he handed them back.

Tori abruptly realized in whose company she was and composed herself. She nodded, letting out a shaky chuckle. "Sorry, I'm just being a klutz." Her mouth said one thing but her eyes said another.

Luckily, Andre knew her long enough to pick it up. But he said nothing watching her, cagily. She opened the card which had another simple happy birthday.

"They all only say happy birthday inside." Cat informed them.

Tori handed the card to Andre as if they were about to look at the next one. But as he tried to take it from her, she held on tightly. He frowned, until she indicated to the small symbol near her thumb.

A star.

Andre's eyes doubled in size as it dawned on him. Swiftly, he looked at the previous fence picture as well. In the bottom corner was also a star.

Jade witnessed the unusual worry in the dark man's face. She rounded to go stand behind him instead. As soon as she hovered over him, he casually handed her the card, his thumb also pointing to the star. The Goth felt her stomach plummet, suddenly, confusion and panic rising flowing through her.

Tori quickly went through the others. The next one was a sleek black baby piano that the brunette would recognize in her sleep. After that it was a shot of the town, Murphy's bar in the center of it.

Then the next one was a bit more personal as it was a photo of two hands, fingers intertwined and a Ferris wheel in the background. Tori and Jade shared a lingering gaze at that until Cat interrupted it.

"Hey you guys forgot one." The redhead picked up the one overlooked on the floor. "I think this one is the weirdest because it's more of a Christmas/ Valentines type."

Tori's fingers trembled as she glanced at the final one. Her heart pounding frantically in the precinct of her chest. There was a Christmas tree, the same enormous one in the town park. But what made all the blood in Tori's body rush to her head was the dark silhouettes of what resembled two lovers locked in a heated embrace. It might have been unrecognizable to everyone else but she was certain as she knew her own name, it was her and Jade.

A light went out in Jade's blue eyes. She knew instantly that it was them. Her hood in the picture covered her hair, shaping the dark shadow deceivingly into a man. But it was her. And it made no sense. Nothing was starting to make sense anymore.

"Anyone up for some coffee?" The redhead asked, retrieving the cards from Tori's pliant hands and put them away.

"What a great idea!" Andre rose rapidly, tugging on the brunette. "Tori and I'll make it." Before Cat could even think to protest, he continued really fast. "Don't worry, we know where everything is. It's the least we can do since you prepared such a lovely meal." He ushered Tori through the exit before halting altogether. "But on second thought, maybe, I should take Jade, just in case things aren't in the same place as before." He yanked the Goth through the door by the back of her shirt.

"Do you realize how completely dodge that was?" Jade hissed as they huddled further up the passageway, her eye constantly guarding the living room entrance.

"I don't care," he hissed back. "We need to talk about this. Your girlfriend has gone into shock." He indicated to the empty face of his best friend.

"Tori?" Jade's fear and confusion were suddenly replaced with concern. Lightly, she cupped her lover's pale cheek. "Hey…" she cooed.

"Jade… the last one…" Tori trailed off in a daze.

"I know, baby. It was taken the day we met." The Goth desperately wanted to take the brunette in her arms but she could hear movement in the living room.

Andre opened his mouth, then closed it again. The new information swirling around in his mind until the point of which it made no sense. "What do you mean the day you met?"

"The only time we kissed in the park. It was my birthday." Tori explained, exhaling an uneasy breath.

"Your birthday? B-but that was months ago!"

"Which means whoevers doing this has been watching me for a very long time," she murmured, feeling completely vulnerable and violated.

"Do you guys need help in there?" Was yelled from the living room startling them.

"No, we're fine!" Andre shouted back and pinched the rim of his nose. "We can't talk about this here. It's too risky." As soon as he said it the doorbell started to ring. Worried eyes locked on his best friend. "Why don't you get that? Jade and I will make the coffee. You can use it as an excuse to get some fresh air and regain your composure."

The brunette nodded, mutely, as they parted ways.

"You have no idea where everything is, do you?" She heard Jade ask Andre.

"Not a clue." Was his response.

Tori reached the front door. She knew she was being stupid and that she was supposed to be stronger than this. But she couldn't fathom why anyone would be watching her the whole time even before she started her affair with Jade. And why only let her know now. She took a few deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling before she was able to open the door.

Standing on the edge of the porch was a tall built man dressed in a red delivery uniform holding a bouquet of red and yellow tulips. The local florist logo on his shirt pocket and cap that was tilt in such an angle, it covered most of his facial features.

"Hello," she greeted, a forced smile gracing her lips.

"Good evening ma'am, I have a delivery for a Mrs. Cat Shapiro?" His smirk was slow and calculated as he stepped more into the porch light, lifting his face to full view.

Tori felt her body run cold as recognition sunk in. "You…"

"Hello, Victoria…" His soft chuckle sent chills down her spine. "How's my little superstar?"

She couldn't respond at first, her tongue feeling thick in the confines of her mouth. She took in his scarred face, those terrifying black eyes. She never forgot those carnal eyes. It having the same effect it did when she had first seen it fifteen years ago. But what would he be doing here?

"Tori who is it?" Cat came up behind her. "Oh no, not again." The redhead giggled. "You must be fed up by now." She told the delivery man having seen him over half a dozen times already.

The thirty-eight year old man smiled, charmingly. "No, ma'am. I enjoy my job. Especially, if there is a beautiful woman on the receiving end." He winked. "Or two in this case."

"Well, aren't you the charmer –." The redhead squinted her eyes and read his tiny name tag, not having noticed it earlier. "–Carl."

A blush tainted his rough cheeks. Bashfully, he said, "thank you, ma'am."

"Cute too…" Cat giggled at his obvious flustered state. "Don't you think so, Tori?" She nudged her friend who had been silent the whole time, just eyeing out the delivery man warily. "Tori? Tori are you alright?"

"Uh what? Yeah, yeah I'm fine." She snapped out of it, yet her eyes not leaving his conniving face, waiting for him to do something.

But instead he just stood there and innocently handed over the flowers. "Sorry, no card this time."

"That's okay." The redhead smiled as she sniffed her prize, enjoying the exotic scents. "They were kind of odd, anyway."

"Well, whoever's been sending them must have they reasons." He grinned, his eyes barely flicking in the brunette's direction.

"I suppose." Cat returned his grin. "Well, thank you for all the trouble."

"Don't worry about it. It was no trouble at all, ma'am. Well… not yet." He quipped playfully as he hopped off the stairs. Turning slightly, he shot one final smug gaze to the brunette who could do nothing but watch him in stony silence.

Cat laughed and waved. "Good night… See you around Carl."

"Oh most definitely… Good night." He treaded towards his truck, hands stuffed in his pockets. His grin was almost vicious as he heard the door close behind him…

Who the hell is Carl? Well, I'll tell you…

Next time, hahaha.

I'd love your thoughts though.


P.S. don't forget to check out 'Challenge Accepted'