DANE SIGHED FOR THE umpteenth time that morning. Nicole had gone to work and she was all by herself. Well, not all by herself considering the way her brain was acting up. Her thoughts seemed like unwanted guests.
She would have to take Nicole to meet her family. She could see no way out of that. Nicole was a family person, close to her aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Nicole hadn't introduced her to her father's side, but Dane knew it would happen eventually. It hadn't happened yet because Raymond's family lived rather far away.
"Why couldn't I just be born from a rock or something?" Dane huffed as she threw herself onto the couch.
Family definitely didn't mean the same to her as it did to Nicole, but she doubted she'd be able to make her lover understand. She didn't have the energy to try either. Besides, she'd endure anything—including her whole family—if it meant Nicole would know just how much she meant to Dane. Hell, she'd endure her family every day if necessary.
Damn it, Chem, I know you've bewitched me! Love had to be some form of magic or witchcraft. She'd do anything for Nicole. She had never felt that way about anyone in her whole life and sometimes it got a little overwhelming. Yeah, Chem, I'd do anything for you, so I guess we're gonna meet my family this weekend. Fuck.
Dane would have to mentally prepare for that little trip. Usually, she wouldn't give a damn about her family or how they treated her. She took it and gave it back sometimes. She'd show up out of the blue, drunk or high with some woman she barely knew on her arm and drive her family crazy. They'd talk about her like she wasn't there, but she mostly enjoyed the fact that she'd pissed them off just by being there.
This was going to happen in front of her lover. The last thing she wanted was for Nicole to think less of her, which her family would try their best to do, especially when they found out how successful Nicole was and she used to date Tyler. They'd want to know why Nicole was with a bum like Dane and they'd ask her to her face. They'd want to know what kind of kinky things Nicole was into to leave Tyler for Dane. Or what awful things Dane had done to trick Nicole into leaving Tyler. They'd make up all sorts of things to tell Nicole or ask Nicole and it might leave Nicole with a bad impression of Dane. Oh, this is just a fuck-fest waiting to happen.
Sitting on the sofa for who-knew-how-long, Dane tried to convince herself that meeting her family wouldn't sway Nicole from wanting to be with her. Nicole had seen her through some hard times and stuck with her. Nicole never even listened to her own mother, so chances were slim that she'd listen to complete strangers when it came to her girlfriend. So, why the hell am I so worried about what damage my family might do? She knows they're fuck-heads and she wouldn't believe them. But, then again, anything could happen.
Throwing her head back, she closed her eyes, letting her troubles and thoughts wander in her mind. Her hands positioned themselves on their own, as if she held a guitar. She then played her imaginary instrument, hoping it'd help.
Nicole sighed as she entered the house, taking note of how quiet it was. Silence meant Danny either wasn't home or had fallen asleep somewhere. She poked her head into the living room. Danny had fallen asleep sitting up. Odd, but she dismissed it for the moment. Danny could fall asleep almost anywhere anyway, a habit from living on the streets. Nicole shook the thought away, disliking reminders of her girlfriend out on the streets.
After stripping off her work clothes and putting on a comfortable pair of shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt, Nicole went to the living room. A devilish smirk spread onto her face as she marched to the sofa and carefully sat down on her lover. Cautiously, she made sure her weight wasn't resting on Danny's right leg. Once she was settled, she leaned forward and started placing feather-light kisses on Danny's face.
The affection earned a cute whimper from Danny. As sweet lips touched her own, she returned the kisses before fully awake. Her arms went around Nicole's waist and pulled Nicole closer, taking the time to cup Nicole's behind while she was at it. Nicole squealed in surprise from the unexpected grope and pulled away just a little. Danny pulled her back. Smoke-colored eyes eased open at the sound while Nicole's body heated up from the attention.
"I like the wake-up calls in this joint. Do you provide any other services?" Danny quipped with a sleepy smile.
Nicole laughed. "I could be obliged." She rocked her hips against Danny's abdomen. Her stomach tightened. This might go beyond teasing very quickly.
"You're in a good mood," Danny said, hands wandering up and down her girlfriend's backside. Even with the shorts in the way, Danny's hands on her body made Nicole's heart speed up.
"Why not? Great girlfriend, doing well in my classes, and not so much crap at work anymore. Hell, I think if work was this nice a few months ago, I wouldn't have longed to go back to school so much," she replied.
"I doubt that, Chem. You know chemistry is in your blood. But, I'm glad work's better for you," Danny said.
Nicole smiled. Her parents weren't bombarding her with cases like they used to. Her father was especially careful in that and often reminded her mother they needed to lighten up because she had school to worry about. Her father also made sure others at the firm stopped taking advantage of Nicole and disrupting her own work. She was much more effective and efficient now than she had ever been. She found herself not loathing to go in anymore, but she still looked forward to the day when she was a chemist, not a lawyer.
"How was your day?" Nicole inquired, pressing her forehead to Danny's. She gave Danny a quick kiss before settling her head against Danny's again. Inhaling, she took in the subtle scent of soap and cinnamon clinging to Danny's skin. Danny didn't wear perfume or cologne, but her cinnamon scented shampoo suited her. It was soothing, like the press of Danny's body, telling Nicole everything was fine because Danny was here. She wished they could stay like this indefinitely.
"Uh…" Danny looked around. "Believe it or not, this is my day." She chuckled.
Nicole's eyebrows drew in closer together. "You couldn't have possibly slept for the whole day. You didn't have a lesson or anything?"
Danny shook her head. "Nothing. Slept the whole day."
Nicole felt her brow furrow more as she pulled back, briefly studying her lover. Danny sighed and it sounded a little depressed to Nicole. Danny continued caressing Nicole's smooth back, but Nicole waited for Danny to say something.
"What happened?" Nicole's voice pitched with mild concern.
"I'll tell you over dinner…" The musician trailed off and her eyes went wide. "Damn it, I didn't make dinner yet!" One of her hands abandoned Nicole and slapped herself in the forehead.
Nicole snickered. "Calm down, baby. You know this is nothing to panic over." She gave Danny another brief kiss to reassure her.
Danny pouted, looking quite like a hurt puppy. Danny always felt it was her duty to have things ready for Nicole when she came in from work. To cheer her up, Nicole leaned down and placed a lingering kiss to her pouting mouth. Danny returned the kiss and Nicole's already racing heart picked up more. It took all of her willpower not to grind against Danny as Danny's tongue requested entrance to Nicole's mouth. Jolts shot through Nicole at the caress of Danny's tongue and she bucked. Danny groaned and pulled Nicole closer with the hand on Nicole's hip. Unfortunately, they had to breathe eventually. They panted as they pulled away from each other.
"It's okay, baby. I'm in the mood for junk food, anyway," Nicole said. Anything that allowed Danny to stay with her right here was fine.
Danny grinned, but arched an eyebrow. "Really?"
"Really. I was going to ask if you wanted pizza. We haven't had pizza in a long time."
"I'll call for a pie."
Nicole's flat palm on her chest kept the former rocker from getting up. "You don't move," Nicole commanded. She didn't know what was stressing Danny out, but she wanted Danny to relax.
"Yes, ma'am," Danny replied with a lewd smile. "You know I like when you get all bossy." She clutched her lover's rear once more.
Nicole chortled as she pulled out her cell phone from her pocket. She ordered a pizza for them and then decided to cuddle into Danny while they waited for their food. Danny didn't say anything, but she pulled Nicole as close as possible. Danny rubbed Nicole's back.
The gentle caress against her spine made Nicole sigh. Any touch from Danny relaxed her, but things like this made it seem like clouds drifted through her body and she could float away if only Danny didn't anchor her to the world as well. She never felt like this before with a lover. It was wholesome and wonderful. She wouldn't trade it for the world.
"I love you," Danny said.
"I love you, too, Danny," Nicole replied. She didn't find it odd for Danny to just blurt that out. Often one of them just said the phrase whenever there was a quiet moment. Sometimes, she thought it was insecurity, but more often than not, she just wanted to make sure her feelings were known. She felt sure Danny wanted the same.
Danny smiled. The couple remained curled up together, kissing and caressing until the pizza arrived. Nicole was tempted to do more, but figured it would be best to wait until they weren't waiting for a delivery person. Nicole went to pay for the pizza while Danny got up to get them something to drink with the food. They decided to eat in the living room, returning to the sofa.
"Not even gonna get a plate?" Danny teased, sitting down with two large glasses of iced tea.
"Plates? We don't need no stinking plates." Nicole giggled.
"Do you want to watch a movie?" Nicole pulled a slice from the box. It was topped with peppers and sausage, her favorite. Pizza, a movie, and cuddling on the sofa would be the perfect end for the day.
"If you want to," Danny replied, taking a slice.
Nicole rolled her eyes. "Please, don't sound so enthused."
Danny laughed. "You know I'll watch the movie with you." She shoved a huge bite of pizza into her mouth.
Nicole went to inspect the movies, but then remembered Danny's earlier words. She turned back to Danny. "Oh, wait, you wanted to tell me something, correct?"
"Right…" The younger woman ran a hand through her hair. "Um…" She stopped, looked at the pizza in her hands and growled.
Nicole went back to the sofa and put a hand on Danny's thigh. "Danny, talk to me. It's just me. You can talk to me. You're safe."
"It's just…well…I was wondering…um…do you want to go to that party my parents are hosting this weekend. It's on Saturday and it's in the afternoon, so it's not really messing up the day or anything." She shrugged and practically stuffed the rest of her pizza in her mouth.
Nicole tried her best to not gasp, but Danny tensed, so she guessed she failed. Nicole never thought Danny would invite her to meet her family, never. She secretly hoped it would happen, but honestly, she thought she'd never even wave hello to someone in Danny's family.
"Are you sure?" Nicole asked in a low, almost frightened voice. She didn't want Danny to do something she didn't want to. The last thing she needed was Danny to resent this gesture and for it to cause trouble in their obviously growing relationship. I don't want her to get scared off.
"I'm sure," Danny mumbled. She took a deep breath. "I mean, I'm sure." She grabbed another slice of pizza.
Nicole didn't want Danny to revoke the offer, but she knew what Danny thought of her family…a little anyway. In the year they had lived together and the half-year that they had been a couple, Danny had said very few words about her family outside the fact that they all hated her guts. And she used to mooch off them for the year after her injuries. But, Nicole found out that wasn't totally true. She found out that Danny actually had a few family members she at the very least could tolerate. Maybe the Wolfe family wasn't completely bad. It seemed a little outrageous for her to even think they all could be horrible.
"Then I'd love to meet your family!" Nicole said, unable to control her smile. Unimaginable joy bubbled up inside of her. She trusts me enough to meet her family! Underneath the giddiness, though, she felt nervousness twist inside her chest. This was a huge step, but she was ready. I want this. I want us.
Nicole started a movie while Dane smiled, even though she didn't feel like it. It hurt to breathe, thinking about Nicole meeting her family, and there was a sinking feeling bottoming out her stomach. She wished the whole matter could be dropped. But, the grin on Nicole's face stopped Dane from backing out. It had to be the right decision. It didn't ease the churning feeling that worked its way into her stomach. She tried her best to ignore it.
"Baby, are you okay?" Nicole asked, out of the blue.
Dane glanced at the television and realized she didn't even know what movie they were watching. She had zoned out, dreading over her family.
"Huh?" Dane blinked a couple of times, trying to focus. "Yeah, I'm fine. Why?" she countered.
"Well, because you only ate two slices of pizza when you're usually good for at least four…"
Dane shrugged it off. "Wasn't that hungry." She might not be hungry again until they got the thing with her family out of the way.
"And I've been keeping my friend company for almost a minute and haven't gotten a response yet," Nicole continued on.
Dane glanced down and noticed her girlfriend leaning against her, one hand fondling her breast. Making matters worse, if the wet spot on her t-shirt around her right nipple meant anything, Nicole had done more than touch. Shit! She's doing that and I didn't even notice?
"Um…Sorry. Guess I'm distracted," Dane admitted, running a hand through her hair. Her cheeks burned.
"Oh…" Nicole glanced away.
Again Dane's hand went through her hair. She felt like such an ass. Moving, Dane pulled Nicole to her and rested the lawyer against her body. Nicole's arms eventually went around Dane.
"I'm so sorry, baby. It's got nothing to do with you and if you accompany me upstairs, you'll know you still have quite the effect on me," Dane said in a low, sensual tone.
A coy smile worked its way onto Nicole's face. "You sure?"
"Positive. If I could trust my leg to not give out halfway to the bedroom, we wouldn't even be talking about it."
"If that's the case, who needs the bedroom?"
Dane let loose a growl that bordered on feral to her own ears. "I like the way you think, woman!" She then engulfed Nicole in a tight embrace with a burning hot kiss that made her blood boil and her body ignite. Any hurt feelings or conflicting emotions were completely forgotten.
Nicole took a deep breath as she stared into her closet. She needed to pick an outfit to meet Danny's family. She had already picked one last night, but now that she looked at it today, it might be too stuffy. It looked like something she might wear to work. She didn't want it to seem like this was a job interview or something remotely impersonal.
"This is massive. Danny is taking me to meet her family. You only can make a first impression once and I need to do this right," Nicole muttered.
Her stomach flipped and she felt like she had lead around her neck, weighing her down. Her pulse pounded in her neck. Her heart had yet to slow speed down, both from excitement and fear. She wasn't sure which one would win out, but she hoped it was excitement. She didn't want to make a fool out of herself.
Taking a deep breath, Nicole turned to her vanity and looked at herself in the mirror. "It'll be fine. Danny wants you to meet her family. This is great. I'm sure she didn't bring any of her floozies to meet her family…well, seriously anyway. We're moving forward and this is part of it, so everything has to be perfect."
She wanted everything to be perfect since she knew this was hard for Danny. She didn't want to make it worse or more awkward. It had to take a lot for Danny to ask her to go. So, I need to play this right. Taking another breath, she turned her attention back to her closet. There had to be something worth wearing and she didn't have much time to find it. She didn't want to make them late.
Downstairs in the living room Dane ran her hand through her hair for what had to be the millionth time as she paced the floor. The churning in her gut from a few days ago had returned, accompanied by an acidic burn in her throat, and she hated to think the sensations were from fear rather than nervousness as she assumed. I'm not scared of my family. But, I am scared of the damage the bastards can do.
Her father had screwed with her mind enough to make her leave Nicole once. It had been a dark moment in their young relationship and she was determined not to repeat that. She had already ordered herself countless times to ignore her father and whatever bullshit he happened to talk about. Unfortunately, she couldn't convince Nicole of the same thing.
She hadn't tried much in explaining her family to Nicole. Nicole had already made her father's acquaintance some months ago. Her mother was with him, but as usual, the woman kept silent as a grave. Her father had said more about himself in his actions than his words. Nicole had even witnessed him throw Dane to the ground, so nothing her father said would hold bearing with Nicole. Her mother might not have any credibility either since she hadn't defended Dane that day. Besides, she wasn't too sure her mother would bother to speak with Nicole anyway. Her mother never really paid much mind to the people she brought home, except maybe to try to convince them to leave once they got too rowdy.
She had hardly briefed Nicole on her siblings. It came out as whining and complaining. The same was true with her uncles, aunts, and cousins. She doubted Nicole would hold her cousins' words in high esteem since Nicole worked with one of her cousins—Tyler. Most of her cousins were just like him. Hell, some of them were bigger snobs than he was.
"Nick's smart. She'll know who's bullshitting her and who's not. She knows how I am, too," Dane tried to assure herself, but as soon as those words left her mouth, she realized that could work against her.
Her life before meeting Nicole had been wild and very crazy. Her family enjoyed embellishing that, just to make her seem more like the demon child they assumed she was. Hell, even if Nicole didn't believe them, she'd be curious and want to talk about it later on. Unable to lie to her girlfriend, she'd end up telling the truth right out of her only meaningful relationship. Some things she'd done in the past had been…questionable.
Even if they managed to make it through that, there were other things about her family that Dane failed to mention. While she hated almost every one of them or held some lofty indifference, there were a couple she liked and who liked her. Nicole would want to know why she hid that from her, and Dane wouldn't have much of an explanation beyond she wanted to forget them.
"Damn it," Dane growled. "Nick, are you coming down?" she called upstairs, wanting her lover to hurry up before she drove herself mad from waiting.
"You can't rush perfection, love!" Nicole replied.
Dane sighed and folded her arms across her chest. She didn't understand why it always took Nicole so long to get ready. Now, she had no complaints about the results, but it felt like it took forever and a day to get there.
Minutes later Nicole stepped downstairs and looked as lovely as Danny expected. Nicole had dressed a little more conservative than Dane thought she would, wearing a dark tan skirt and beige blouse that showed a hint of cleavage. A matching set of beige heels clicked as she walked over to Dane. A necklace with a heart pendent dangled on her neck.
"How do I look?" the redhead asked with an impish smile.
Dane narrowed her gaze. "You know how you look. Tempting me to push that skirt up," she grumbled, rubbing a hand behind her neck.
Nicole laughed a bit. Leaning in, she placed a chaste, but wet kiss to Dane's cheek. Dane groaned.
"You are such a fucking tease," Dane complained.
Nicole gasped, like she was offended. "Such harsh words."
Dane frowned. "S'true."
"No, just giving you something to look forward to when we come back home. Now seriously, how do I look? I figured this was appropriate for a gathering with your family," Nicole explained as she stepped back to model her outfit a bit, complete with turning all the way around.
Dane shrugged, longing burning inside her. She had to work to keep her voice level. "It's fine."
Nicole shot her a skeptical look. "Just fine? From the way you're looking at me, I think I look much better than fine."
"But you didn't want to know that. You wanted to know if this was appropriate for a gathering with my family. Probably. I don't know who's gonna be there aside from my family, who will all be dressed as pretentious as possible. Everybody's gonna be trying to one up each other, after all."
"Except you, right?" Nicole smiled a bit, as she tugged on her lover's vest.
Dane felt like putting on a vest and a shirt with buttons meant that she had dressed formally enough. She had on black shorts with a matching long sleeve shirt. She had even tucked her shirt in, so she felt like this was very formal. Her grey vest had a black outline of a guitar over the breast pocket. A much larger image of the same guitar decorated the back. Nicole had gotten Dane the vest and even now, she wondered how Nicole found such things that just fit her personality so well.
"Can we just go?" Dane sighed. She hadn't taken her rings out of her eyebrow, but then again, she never did.
Nicole pouted, and Dane knew instantly that she brought the mood down. Without warning, Nicole wrapped her arms around Dane. She placed a few soft pecks to Dane's mouth with her moist lips. This didn't help quell the flames in Dane, but it helped her feel a little better.
"What's wrong, baby? You seem cranky," Nicole whispered.
"I'm fine," Dane lied. The last thing she wanted was for Nicole to think that she really was just a big baby. "I guess it's going out two Saturdays in a row or something. Doesn't help that I had to see the demon wench today." Damn physical therapy does just add to the bullshit of the day.
"Sweetheart, don't call your physical therapist that," Nicole slightly reprimanded her. "Now, come on, tell me the truth. I know you have problems with your family, but is it bothering you this much? Do you think they'll make a big deal about your showing up with me?"
Ha! Dane rolled her eyes. "They're going to make a big deal about me showing up in general. There'll be drama, but I don't care about that shit. Just don't want you to end up bothered."
Nicole smiled. "You don't have to worry about me, Danny. I just want to meet your family. I won't let them scare me or rile me up."
"Okay," Dane said, not that she understood why Nicole wanted to meet her family. They had already been through that it wasn't the same thing as meeting Nicole's family. Nicole had even agreed with that, but still wanted to meet the rest of the Wolfe clan. I'll never understand women.
"Are you all right now?"
"Um." Dane took a deep breath. "Just do me a favor and take any and everything they say to you with a grain of salt, okay?"
Nicole gave her another small, almost smug smile. "Danny, you've told me enough about your family and I've seen enough to know that I probably shouldn't believe everything they say. But, if I do ask you questions about things, you'll be honest and you won't get mad?"
"I won't get mad at you, but at the bastard telling you stuff to mess with you. But, of course, I'll be honest. I'm almost always honest, right?" Dane grinned.
Nicole studied her for a moment, leaving Dane wondering if her face looked as awkward as she felt. "On most things, yes. I still can't get you to be honest about your hand or your leg, but I can't stop your honest opinion your physical therapist."
"Demon woman!" Dane threw up her hands. "The woman is a damn demon woman!"
"See?" Nicole remarked with a smile. "I know this is hard for you, baby. If you really don't want to go, we don't have to. I just thought there was no way you disliked your whole family. Surely there's someone there that you might want to see and would not mind introducing me to."
Dane sighed. She really didn't want to confess that there was no one in her family she missed. And then she suddenly blinked as she realized Nicole was right. There was someone—a couple of someones actually—she wanted to see. She'd be pleased to introduce her girlfriend to those two. Sure, I might have some explaining to do after, but I'd love for her to meet Luke and Thomas. Hell, I'd just like to see them again.
Dane smiled. "You're right. There are two people I want to introduce you to."
"Then let's go see them," Nicole replied.
Dane nodded and with that, they were off. Dane didn't really have any feelings one way or the other until they actually got into her parents' neighborhood. The wealth on display didn't faze her, huge homes and yards with huge trees set in rows, blocking the neighbors from view. But, there were neighbors, always had been. Dane's eyes searched down the street, trying to catch a glimpse of one house in particular.
No, no, no. Don't do this to yourself. Dane shook her thoughts away and managed to focus on the problem at hand. After all, she had to see her family. Worse than that, Nicole had to meet her family. She wouldn't blame Nicole for leaving her after this little trip, even though Nicole pushed for it. She just knew how rude and awful the Wolfe family could be. But, Nick has tough skin. She should be able to take it. She just didn't think Nicole should have to take it.
Well, folks, that's the preview. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope you go buy the book. If you're interested in reading more about these two, you can find New Cuts, Old Wounds on Amazon under the name S. L. Kassidy. It's also available on other ereaders, like iBooks and the Nook. Details on my profile.
Thanks for the support. I appreciate it.