Chapter 5

Six months had passed since Jeri moved into the upstairs apartment. She continued her shifts at Jan's Place and she worked now and then at Last Stop Pizza.

She and some of her friends (mostly local housewives) had cleaned out the empty store front next door to Desmond's pizza place and organized the 'Top of the World Consignment Shop' which was basically a buy and sell operation of various unwanted household items, clothing, books and other tag sale type stuff that filled the shelves and racks volunteer husbands built for the place.

Various volunteers manned the shop for a small stipend or barter and Jeri was usually on call when somebody was unable to show up. Desmond appreciated the extra cash flow although he only charged a percentage of the profit the shop was making.

Jeri's heart still ached for her wards she desperately missed but she rarely thought about Paul anymore and she took that as a positive healing growth. She liked to think about Desmond instead, who was always encouraging her to do what she wanted to do.

Desmond surprised Jeri one night by taking her out to dinner in North Adams.

"I remember how your previous employer didn't want to be seen in public with you," Desmond remarked. "I'm happy to be seen in public with you."

Jeri was moved by the gesture and they did it a few more times, usually on Tuesday evenings when it was a little slow at pizza place and Jerry could handle things without Desmond being there.

"It looks like things have fallen into place for you," Sharon remarked one morning as Jeri worked her shift at Jan's Place.

"My mother thinks I'm nuts," Jeri replied with a smirk. "But for the first time in my life I finally feel like I truly belong somewhere."

It was after midnight when Desmond dragged himself up the stairs after another day at the Last Stop Pizza Shop. He was surprised when the door to Jeri's apartment opened and she stuck her head out.

"What are you doing awake?" He asked.

"I'm off tomorrow," She said. "Do you want to come in?"

"It's kind of late," Desmond replied.

"Are we going to be Six Months A Sap?" Jeri asked.

He peered at her. "I'm four years older than you, Jeri."

"Isn't that within the margin of error?" She smiled.

"You're gorgeous," he blurted out.

She laughed, considering she was standing there in her bathrobe with her hair pulled up. She was surprised when Desmond cupped her chin in his hand and stroked her cheek with his thumb.

"It's true," he said with affection.

Jeri fell into him for a much needed hug. He welcomed the embrace but then he gently pushed her off of him and he leaned in, kissing her full on the mouth. She met the kiss with a desperate one of her own before pulling him by the arm out of the doorway and into her apartment, closing the door behind her. She pushed him against the closed door and placed her hands on his face, kissing him with passion and want.

"I don't want to be Six Years A Sap again," she said when she broke the kiss.

Desmond pulled her closer, his hands up along the sash of her robe as they kissed again. The robe fell open and he realized that she was naked underneath. He rubbed his hand along her stomach, up to her breasts, and then, in time, down to the top of her pubic hair, bringing her skin to life with each touch. Finally, he pushed the robe off her shoulders and it fell to the floor in a clump, revealing her to him.

"You're beautiful, Jeri," he whispered into her ear.

"You make me feel so," she replied.

He moved his mouth down and kissed her breasts. She dropped her head back and moaned with desire and arousal. He swept her up into his arms and carried her into the bedroom.

Later, lying next to each other on the bed, too exhausted and satisfied to speak, Desmond moved his head down and rested it on Jeri's stomach while stroking her thighs. Fifteen more minutes pass before he finally moved his head back up to the pillow and he gave her a kiss, staring into her eyes and grinning.

"What?" Jeri asked with uncertainty.

"I can't believe this is happening," he laughed.

"I'm not going to be a sap with you," she promised.

"I know," Desmond replied softly, placing a finger on her lips. "I understand."

"You do?" She asked hopefully.

"Don't worry about anything," he told her. "You're living above The Last Stop Pizza Shop. Your search has ended."

With that, Jeri burst into tears and she clung to him long into the night.