Chapter 6

They talked about Rocky's mom during the ride to Rocky's Hillsboro apartment - located in one of the older houses on one of the side streets off of Main Street.

Caitie helped Rocky lug the portraits of his mother inside and she was taken by the number of framed photos on the apartment walls - going all the way back to their high school days when Rocky took candid shots of classmates around the school - and on the athletic fields and basketball courts.

It was like looking at the arc of his life - from those high school photos to his Navy series and then back to more recent Hillsboro shots as a Navy retiree. Caitie was pleased to see that she and her family had made the cut several times in various photos scattered throughout the photo array - artistic action shots from their visit to DC and the vacation in Maine.

It was mid-afternoon. Caitie was wearing a black dress appropriate for funerals, black stockings, and black leather boots. Her hair was still black though streaked with gray now.

"Do you have to go back to work?" She asked as she continued to review the photos hung throughout the apartment.

"Na," Rocky replied. "The advantage of being owner and boss. There's a sign on the door 'Closed due to death in family'. Who's going to argue with that?"

"Can I use your bathroom?" Caitie asked. "I drank a lot of ginger ale."

"Promise you won't get mad?" Rocky worried.

"About what?"

"I never thought I'd see you here of all places," Rocky explained.

"What are you talking about?"

He sighed as he led her to the bathroom. She stopped short in the doorway when she saw what was hanging over the toilet - a blown up photo of one of Rocky's Naked In Boots series - this one with Caitie's back to the camera as she danced naked in the snow with her boots on, but her head turned sideways, her face covered by her swirling hair caught by the lens in mid-flow.

"Wow," was all she could think to say.

"Sorry," he mumbled

"No, I'm flattered, really," Caitie said, turning to him and smiling.

"You weren't flattered the last time," he mumbled.

"I had something to protect and hide the last time," Caitie replied.

"I don't get a lot of visitors," Rocky said lamely.

"Can you believe that's twenty years old now?" She asked, gesturing to the enlarged photo.

"Seems like a lifetime ago now," Rocky admitted.

"Okay, give a girl some privacy," Caitie said, gently pushing Rocky out of the doorway and closing the door to the bathroom.

Rocky went to one of the easy chairs in the living room to wait for Caitie, happy to see her again but wondering if they could so effortlessly revive their friendship after a three year respite.

A few minutes later, Caitie emerged from the bathroom – naked except for her leather boots and Rocky couldn't help but grin as she approached with an amused look on her face.

"Where's your camera?" Caitie asked. "We'll do a Naked in Boots reshoot."

She walked past him and into the bedroom and by the time Rocky gathered his camera and followed her, Caitie was lying on the bed on her stomach with her booted feet kicking in the air.

Rocky took several shots of her as she turned her head and smiled for the camera.

"Okay, that's enough," Caitie decided after a few minutes.

Rocky sat on the bed next to her. "You're crazy," he let her know.

"I've always been crazy when it came to you," she told him truthfully. "I spent my entire adult life denying the truth."

"What truth?" Rocky asked.

"The truth about you," she replied. "And I would have kept on denying it if Chet hadn't left. But now, as I said, I have nothing left to protect or hide."

Later, Rocky lay naked next to Caitie under the covers. Mid-afternoon had turned into late afternoon and Caitie was cuddled against him.

"I have to get going," she said. "The kids will wonder where I am."

"My email address hasn't changed," Rocky replied.

"I'll facebook friend request you when I get home," Caitie said.

"I never should have left," Rocky realized.

"I should have gone with you," Caitie countered.

"I should have asked you to," Rocky admitted.

"We're here now," she said. "Together."

She left the bed and walked naked to the bathroom to get dressed. When she returned, she sat on the edge of the bed and put her boots on.