"...and then this unicorn appeared. At first, I was a little concerned because...well, everyone knows there's no such thing as unicorns, but then my Fairy Godmother, you know, Glenda the Good Witch of the North reassured me that-"
"Elizabeth! What are you talking about?" Lucky asked, a puzzled expression on his face.
"You mean you didn't hear a word I was saying? Is that what you're trying to tell me?" she asked, raising an eyebrow to emphasize her point that she didn't like being ignored.
"Okay, you got me," he admitted. He opened his mouth to say more, but he realized that there wasn't much left to say. Or anything else that he even wanted to say. He closed his mouth and pulled his wool overcoat tighter around him, his eyes staring sightlessly as the waves rolled in Spoon Lake.
"Lucky?" Liz placed her finger under his chin and turned his head so that he faced her. "You can tell me about it. I'm here for you, baby. What happened with your mother?"
"Nothing really," he shrugged.
Liz rolled her eyes and released a long, audible sigh. "Try that with someone who doesn't know you, okay? Now, I'm only asking you this once more. *What* happened? Did you tell her that you...know?"
"Yeah, I told her," he said, his voice hoarse. "I didn't really get into it with her, though. I thought I would, but I just couldn't. And, after her lunch with Dawn, I'm sure she was relieved to not hear any more from me."
"What happened with her lunch with Dawn?" Liz asked, linking her arm through Lucky's. Silently, they decided to move to the edge of the dock as they waited for the launch. She and Dawn had decided that the four of them would ride to Jacks together. And as they stood on the cold, windy dock waiting for the newlyweds, Liz wished the launch would speed up just a little bit, so that they could get out of the frigid air.
Nearing the edge, they could see the light of the launch as it came closer. Watching its slow, steady pace gave Lucky the peace he needed after the emotional day he'd had. He began to speak softly, "They had words. Dawn ran out. I saw her leave as I was on my way over there. I could see that she was crying so I followed her here. She didn't really tell me what had happened, but she didn't have to say anything for me to know that it was bad."
"She's good at hiding her feelings, but you read her pretty well," Liz commented, softly.
"Yeah, I guess," he shrugged again. "She's pretty blunt, you know. If she doesn't like something or someone, she lets 'em know."
"You admire her for that?" Liz asked. She released her hold on Lucky to tighten the knot of her scarf as it lay around her neck. A breeze stirred and she shivered as the cold air traveled through her coat and as she bit her lip and waited for Lucky's response.
"She's okay. Where is all this coming from, Liz?" he asked with a frown. "Is this about the video?"
"No...yes...oh, I don't know!" she muttered, her eyes downcast.
"The video is not a big deal. The dance," he shrugged, "was a dance. It was pretty technical. If you think I enjoyed it, you're wrong. I mean, it was work and-"
"Lucky, please," she said, raising her head as she placed a finger against his lips to silence him. "I believe you. I was just being silly."
"Nah, I kinda liked your silly/jealous side," he whispered, pulling her against him. He brushed her lips with his and as he raised his head, he said, "Liz, you're the one for me...and when the video comes to the end, be sure to remember that."
Lucky chuckled softly, finally able to forget the day he'd had. Liz smiled as she shook her head at him. "I'm getting the weirdest feeling that I'm not gonna like this."
"Mm, Em, have I told you how beautiful you look tonight?" Jordan whispered softly against Emily's ear.
Emily blushed and said, "Oh, Jordan."
"Oh, Jordan," Sly mimicked from the other side of the limo. He rolled his eyes and looked at Lark, muttering, "Can you believe those two?"
"I think it's sweet," she told him. "Maybe you could learn a thing or two from them."
"What?!" he asked, folding his arms across his chest. "I don't need to learn anything from anyone, and especially not from those two!"
Lark shrugged and rolled her eyes. She directed her attention to the passing landscape and she thought about how wonderful she'd *thought* her first limo ride would be. Too bad Tommy wasn't there, too, she thought. He'd know how to treat her. He'd bring her flowers, hold her hand and whisper softly in her ear-
"Hey, you two," Jordan said, "don't start that stuff tonight, okay? This could be a really good night...for *all* of us. Don't blow it by fighting."
"Listen, man, I don't need you to te-"
"Okay," Lark said, cutting Sly off. "He's right, and you know it. I'm willing to chill if you are. What do you say?"
"Humphf," he grumbled. His attitude changed for the better when Lark slid her hand into his and rested her head on his shoulder. The touch her delicate fingers against the back of his hand reminded him why he spent so much time with her. Maybe he could be more romantic, he decided. He hated to admit the truth, even to himself, but he cared about her more than any other girl he'd ever gone out with. He didn't want to lose her and if being mushy would keep her by his side, then he could do mushy. Correction. He would try his best to do mushy and he'd hope she'd go for it. "Okay. I can chill."
"Good." Lark smiled at him. She leaned against him and christened his smooth, clean-shaven face with a kiss. His blue eyes lit up in surprised happiness and for an instant, Lark wondered if she'd been wrong about Sly Eckertt. Perhaps there was more to his usual surly persona than met the eye. Tonight, she would refrain from thinking of Tommy and wondering what might have been if Gina Cates hadn't gotten in the way, and instead she would focus on the young man who obviously cared about her more than he let on.
Emily leaned against Jordan and whispered, "I don't know how you did it, but congratulations on doing the impossible."
"That's it?" he asked, his brown eyes teasing her. "A verbal congratulations. Aw, Em, you wound me."
"Who said that was it?" she asked. Oblivious to the other occupants, she cupped his face, drawing his head down to meet her lips. She caressed the back of his neck as she deepened the kiss, allowing her tongue to invade his mouth. "Better now?" she asked with a faint blush as she broke away.
"Much," he sighed through ragged breath. "But I think we should save the rest of my treatment for a time when we don't have an audience."
"I'll say!" Sly agreed with a snicker. A sharp poke in the ribs from Lark's elbow caused him to sober up and ask, "What did I say?"
"Aw, Eve!" AJ grumbled into his cell phone as he stood outside of Jacks. Alone. And, cold.
"Aw, AJ!" was her comeback. Her voice was softer and void of teasing as she said, "I'm really sorry. I wanted to be there, and maybe if I juggle a few things around, I can."
"Don't. Not on my account. Maybe I'll just go hom-"
"No!" she interrupted much louder than necessary. "You're home too much. Come on, two nights in a row, out on the town. Whaddaya say?"
"I say it would be okay *if* I wasn't alone!" he reminded her.
"Oh, don't be such a spoilsport!" she scolded. "Come on, pal! Have fun, laugh, mingle and give me a full report on how the kids handle seeing themselves on the big screen for the first time."
"You're really attached to them, aren't you?"
"What can I say? I like kids," she laughed. "Does this mean you'll stay?"
"I asked you a simple question. Nowhere did I imply that I would stay. Geez, Eve!"
"You know, you're one grouchy so and so! Just go to the video, okay? I think Matt's coming in because Ellen's here and maybe I can convince him to take my shift. If I can, I'm coming so save me a seat!"
"Bossy woman! Okay! I'll save you a seat, but I want you to know if you don't show up-"
"What?" she asked, defiantly. "What are you gonna do about it?" she challenged him.
"Oh, I'll show what I'll do about it," he growled, playing along with her flirtatious game.
"Now, that sounds like something I'll enjoy," she told him before she ended the call.
AJ laughed softly to himself as he placed his cell phone into his jacket. He didn't how she did it, but she managed to get him every time. The bickering and the teasing were pure Eve and he was slowly discovering that he was enjoying every minute of it. A sexy smile graced his handsome face as he considered making good on his threat. When was the last time he'd wanted to be with a woman, he asked himself. Too long ago, came the silent answer. The time had come to move on and forget about her. Her. Keesha.
"Keesha?" he said, surprised to see her when she had just been in his thoughts. He looked behind her, half expecting to see Jason bringing up the rear. He was pleasantly surprised to see that she was alone.
"Hi," she said as she tentatively approached him. She was uncertain about how to handle the situation. When she'd first noticed him and his animated telephone conversation, she'd thought twice about approaching him, but when he ended the call, it was like her feet had a mind of their own and there she was in front of him.
"Hi," he repeated, unaware that he'd used the same hesitant tone of voice as she had used. "How are you?"
"I'm fine. And yourself?"
"I'm okay," he nodded. I'm doing it. I'm talking to her and my heart hasn't exploded and ripped out of my chest, he thought. Amazing. Aloud, he said, "Are you alone tonight?"
"Well...I guess that would depend on what you mean by alone. I didn't come with anyone, but I'm supposed to meet Gina and Tommy here."
"Just those two and no one else?" he asked, concerned.
"Yeah," she nodded, unsure of how much to say. She'd hurt him so much already. She wasn't vain or egotistical, but she didn't want to throw her relationship with Jason up in his face either. She decided not to mention him at all. "It's just me. Are you alone or...?"
"I'm not sure," he said with a shrug. "Eve's supposed to meet me here, but that will depend on how soon her replacement comes in."
"Oh. I see," she said, hoping the twinge of envy she felt when he said his friend's name had gone unnoticed by him. To cover her emotions, she quickly and brightly added, "I saw you together last night. I've seen her around the hospital. She seems great."
"She is," he replied. "She's been a great friend. Um, it's getting cold out here. Would you like to wait for Gina and Tommy inside?"
"Sure, if it's not..." Keesha shook her head and started over again. "Sure."
"Great. Come with me," he said, offering her his arm. After a slight hesitation, she took it and together with special invitations in hand, they moved to the door.