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It was half past ten in the morning on an early November day, and I had a surprise appointment to keep. I strode down Thirty Second Street in New York City with a purposeful stride in my gait. My clothes were chosen carefully -- the dark jacket with a fur collar that Amber had always thought was so sexy and the knee length black boots with two-inch heels. She picked out both items when we went shopping once, telling me that she would always be turned on when I wore them. It was something I counted on for today.

As I walked some people occasionally looked or even leered at me. I was used to stares, mostly because people felt a six-foot tall Asian woman was some kind of oddity, but today part of it was the outfit. I felt a little rush, thinking if they only knew what was underneath this coat. Unfortunately, and all too soon, that rush was taken over by nerves. There was a part of me that knew this whole thing was insane, that I was not thinking clearly, and that if I turned around right now, headed home and took my pills, the pain and anger I was feeling might subside sooner than I thought.

But as I mentioned this was only a very small part of me thinking rationally. The rest was pure temper, a white-hot fire of rage that was saying something along the lines of,

"FUCKING ROTTEN CUNT BITCH WHORE I'M GOING TO KILL THAT STUPID WENCH AND STUFF HER INTO A TOOTHPASTE TUBE AND SQUEEZE HER OUT SLOWLY ONTO A BED OF HOT COALS AND WATCH HER WRITHE IN AGONY WHILE I LAUGH!"

Okay, so I tend to get slightly eloquent when I'm angry, probably because I've had plenty of practice. My temper is legendary among my family and friends, and some have joked that my name, Blossom, has more to do with anger rather than botany. I've been seeing psychologists ever since high school, all of them trying to help me control my rage and occasional fits of depression with varying degrees of success. Most have used medication, and at first that seemed like a great cure.

But whenever I forget to take my pills the feelings come back ten times stronger than before, mixing with negative memories that fuel my rage even further, and sometimes it all leads me to do things I regret. I haven't taken my pills for several days now, and even in my current state I could tell this was shaping up to be one of those times.

"I heard you stabbed a girl once."

Amber was looking at me sitting on a toilet. We were in a lesbian club called The Litter Box, and I had just run away from a table full of friends, taking refuge in the bathroom and forgetting to close the stall door because I was so upset. Seeing her face made me realize how the dim club lighting hid her beauty. Amber stood there waiting for a response, and even though she had an easygoing air about her, I felt the weight of her stare.

"It was a long time ago," I said. "Back in high school."

The left corner of Amber's mouth came up in a half smile. "I was in high school once. Don't recall stabbing anyone."

Most stall doors are cheap shit and only stay in two positions -- locked or open. I threw the stall door so hard that it actually stuck shut. My eyes struggled to hold back the tears that came with the memories that had been dredged up. I could hear Amber's footsteps as they came up to the door.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

Talking always helped me, at least with my psychiatrist. I opened the door. Amber stood there with a concerned look on her face.

"You know," I started, "my mom always said, "What goes around comes around." It was like her credo. Whenever someone did something fucked up, I could just count three seconds and mouth it right along with her 'cause she was that predictable with it." I shook my head. "I'm still waiting to see it really happen."

The story started when I was in high school and a new girl had come to town. She was a beautiful redhead named Heather Pollard, and the moment I saw her I fell in love. Every time I passed her in the hall I felt a rush of excitement, and when I had a class with her I spent all my time stealing glances and daydreaming of being in a relationship with her. It was the kind of thing you did at fifteen when you knew in the back of your mind it would never happen, but you kept hoping and dreaming.

Then it really happened. Heather slipped me a note one day as we were leaving class. It said she had heard rumors about my sexuality and hoped they were true because she was very interested. No words could adequately describe the soar of excitement, the rushing of the blood, the lightheadedness, the feeling that I could jump over a building or run ten miles without losing steam. Bullets would have bounced off of me that afternoon.

Following instructions in the note, I met Heather later that day behind a local building and we made out for a while. After that she told me her parents were going out of town for the weekend and I could stay over her place Friday night. Nothing felt real on my walk home that day. What was only a dream had quickly become reality.

When we talked on the phone Heather told me she'd had a girlfriend back home but they broke up after she left. I told her that I'd never been with anyone except myself, but apparently I'm very good because my body was always satisfied. She laughed, which sounded like musical notes to my ears, and said she couldn't wait to show me how much better it is with someone else.

When I got to her place that Friday we went to her room and made out for a little while, then she asked me to strip. Heather wanted to watch me masturbate and see how good I was, so she planted herself in a chair in front of the bed. I stood and took off my clothes without ceremony and spread myself on the bed. This all felt crazy, so I sat there for a moment and soaked in the excitement, sitting naked on another girl's bed while she admired my body, about to perform a sexual act with an audience.

With a feather light touch I started running my fingers around my breasts, letting goose bumps raise up at the sensation. I took each nipple between my thumbs and forefingers and gave a squeeze, followed by some caressing and then another pinch. Heather smiled and that sent a wave of electricity through me.

My breath started to catch occasionally, and I felt a familiar tingle start to grow south of my belly button. I moved my hands away from my breasts and sent them roaming all over my body -- up and down along my sides, down my crotch and over my mound, up and down my upper legs, and over my tummy until I was back up to my breasts. While I did this I sighed and moaned at the sensation, occasionally adding in the same sound I make whenever anything caramel touches my lips.

Heather was enthralled at what I was doing. This meant the time I'd spent sitting in the library reading sex education books and surfing the Internet for lewd stories instead of doing schoolwork had been a proper redirection of my efforts. I'd have to pat myself on the back when my hands weren't so busy. Right now they were teasing my pubic hairs as I spread my legs open, for the first time displaying my most private areas to another human being who didn't have the letters 'MD' after their name.

I slid my fingers along my folds, which were already moist from the full body massage, and used my fingertips to tease the sensitive flesh. Maybe it was the excitement of the moment, or maybe it was the comfort I felt at meeting another lesbian, but I automatically said the words I usually say as soon as my hands touch my pussy. "Hello, lover."

Heather giggled and I was suddenly aware of what I had uttered. But the smile on her face was warm and that put me at ease. Bringing one hand back up to my face as the other continued to play with my pussy, I made a show of licking the honey off of my fingertips, basically over dramatizing in the way a fifteen year- old who was doing something to impress another person would. But seeing Heather's jaw drop made me feel like I was doing it just right.

A moan came from deep within me as I slid a finger inside of myself. I could tell Heather was getting excited because she bit her lip as her legs bounced up and down and her face had a look of bottled excitement, like a ten-year-old kid on Christmas Eve. I started moving my finger in and out slowly, making a big show of it by planting my feet on the bed, leaning on my shoulders and bringing my hips up so she could see the action clearly.

"That's so cool," she said.

The words made me soar. Ever since Heather talked about the sexual experiences she'd had with her girlfriend, I started worrying that my inexperience might hurt my chances to be with her. That's why impressing Heather became so important, and once it was accomplished I wanted to reap the reward for my efforts. Lowering my hips down to the bed, I looked at her and asked, "You want to join me?"

With a wide smile she said, "I want to see you finish yourself off. After that, I'll show you what I can do."

That spurned me on to finish quickly. I lay back, brought my fingers up to my clit and began to tease it, getting to several highs before I finally felt the big one coming. Something about Heather watching me made it so much more exciting, her eyes looking at my body like she was surveying a scrumptious desert. Our pupils met every now and then, and a wicked smile crossed her face. My climax racked my body like an earthquake, and for a moment I thought I heard something actually hit the floor.

And suddenly I realized something did hit the floor. A sound coming from the closet, followed by voices. My eyes went to the slightly open door and then to Heather. Her smile turned into a laugh, and I could feel in my gut that something was very wrong here. Before I could say anything the closet door flew open and two guys from school, Jimmy Bower and Pete Trallos, came barreling out. Pete was holding a video camera and walked straight up to the bed with it. I remember screaming, somehow grabbing most of my clothes, and running away.

The rest of the weekend was spent in my room crying. My parents kept asking me what was wrong, but the situation wasn't exactly something I could talk to them about. Heather had totally humiliated me. I kept wondering why she did it, and what kind of person could do such a thing. Bouts of depression took turns with fits of rage, and I broke more than a few things in my room. My dad ended up calling my psychiatrist at home. After two hours she managed to calm me down, but nothing could take away the sting of what had happened. I thought it was the worst thing I'd ever experienced. How wrong I was.

Monday and Tuesday I faked sickness to avoid school, not wanting to face Heather and those two boys. But when I finally went in on Wednesday I saw Heather in the hallway, hanging out with Pete and his group. She spotted me down the hall, waved and called out, "Hello, lover!"

I could hear the group break out in laughter as I ran away. I made it to homeroom and thought I was safe.

"Hello, lover."

The words sent a shock wave down my spine, especially when I realized it wasn't Heather, Pete or Jimmy. There were giggles around the room. Looking around to see who said it, I suddenly realized most everyone was staring at me. I took out a book and buried my face in it, trying not to cry or scream or run, wishing it would all just go away.

Later, a friend told me the video of my masturbation session had been posted on the Internet, and Pete and Heather, who were now an item, told everyone where to find it. Blind rage took over, and I don't really remember getting the knife. According to the police report I stole it from the cafeteria kitchen.

I do remember stabbing Heather, that moment is vividly clear in my mind. As I walked up to her in the hallway, she smiled and said, "Hello, lover," again. I replied, "Goodbye bitch!" and plunged the blade into her shoulder.

"I was sentenced to juvie for a few months," I told Amber. By this time we had made our way to a coffee shop. "They took pity on me because I told them I had planned to stab her in the shoulder."

"Told them," Amber said, and then she was silent for a few moments, her eyes staring straight into mine. In a soft, shallow voice she said, "You weren't aiming for her shoulder, were you?"

I looked away. This was one of those moments I wished you could erase those parts of your past you didn't like, somehow starting over fresh, without all the mistakes you made before. "No," I said, as my voice broke slightly. "I was aiming for her heart. Blind luck, she moved at the last moment."

Suddenly I realized I had arrived at my destination. Va Vem was an exclusive clothing store on Thirty-Second that sold trendy styles to rich yuppies. I took a deep breath. Did I really need to do this? Four months since it had happened and the pain had just begun to fade. Why reopen the wound? This was a plan I had come up with the night before while drunk, and finally stopping to think about it, I realized that what I was about to do was incredibly stupid. But then I noticed what the mannequin was wearing -- an outfit for a grown woman that included a plaid skirt and vest, made to look like a schoolgirl's outfit. Who's to say what's stupid?

I reached into my jacket pocket and touched the cold steel object in there. Feeling it gave me a sense of power. It made risking jail time seem worth it.

"Fuck it," I said to the mannequin like it could hear me, and walked in the door.

The whole place was done in bright white walls and hardwood floors, and as Amber had told me so many times it was devoid of customers at this early hour. Down a walkway flanked by tables and cubbyhole stands filled with clothes was a checkout counter, and behind that counter stood Amber, folding up some sweaters. I looked at her straight auburn hair that I had washed so many times in the shower, her thin, willowy arms that had embraced my body, and the full lips that caused a stir deep inside me every time I saw them. When she looked up and saw me standing halfway between her and the door, I could see the almond colored eyes that I'd stared into until I was in a trance. Amber's face started to take on a look of shock, then froze midway when she saw what I was wearing. I think her brain was having a panic attack while her eyes were saying, "Yum."

She said, "Blossom." It was less of a statement and more of a cover for "Oh shit."

"Hey baby," I said.

Amber slowly walked around the counter, and when she did I nearly lost it. Down below the hemline of her skirt, she wore two-inch sandals that showed off a silver anklet and toe ring combo that I'd given her. It was hard not to let anger show in my face.

She just stood there tight lipped. I realized she didn't know if I was going to punch her or take out a gun and start shooting or fall to my knees and beg for her back. I stayed silent, letting Amber's mind play through all the little scenarios of where this could go. It was mean, but she was the cause of that little sliver of my heart growing cold.

"What are... what do you want?"

I walked up to her, and as I did it was obvious she was trying not to back away. "You owe me."

"Owe you?" She tried to sound annoyed, but there was a nervous lilt to her voice that betrayed her guilt, and her fear.

I nodded. "Uh huh. You remember our little fantasy?"

She smirked. "Which one?" Less fear in her voice now.

I held out my hands, indicating the store. Amber's eyebrows raised and she started to look up. But then she realized what I meant and looked back at me with a mischievous grin and a wild look in her eyes. That look. I hadn't realized I'd missed it until that moment.

"Are you serious?" she asked.

To answer her question I opened the coat, revealing my naked body underneath. Amber's eyes went wide and her jaw fell open. She loved it when I let the exhibitionist side of me go wild, and I threw in a gold waist chain for good measure. One look told me I had her right where I wanted her.

In three quick strides she covered the distance between the two of us. One hand came to the back of my neck and pulled my face to hers, our lips brought together in a kiss fueled by momentary lust. Her other hand went to my breast, rubbing the soft flesh and pinching between her fingers the nipple already hard from the cool air. Our tongues violently mashed together and I once again relished in Amber's taste.

A year's worth of memories flooded back into my conscious mind and I felt like I could get lost in any one of them. The real reason I was here was suddenly sacrificed to the desire to have her back.

I felt safe. I had someone to lean on again, someone who would catch me when I fell, be there when I needed, give when I lacked, help when I was helpless. You never seem to realize what kind of support you gain when you're in a committed, loving relationship.

Not until it's suddenly gone without your consent. The numb feeling that comes over you when you suddenly realize your safety net is gone. Back outside without a jacket, the door closed and locked and you don't have a key to get back in. Nothing but miles of empty wasteland before you and you don't know which direction to head in -- suddenly I understood what my psychiatrist was telling me about being too dependant on others.

But I wasn't the only one feeling safe. Amber panicked when she first saw me, fearing the worst kind of retribution. Now thinking my intention is fun, she's relaxed and getting into it. This is the false sense of security I wanted to create for her, because in order for me to get away with this I needed her to feel safe and secure. We broke the kiss and when I looked in Amber's eyes I fell in love with her again.

"Did you know hummingbirds are the only type of birds that can fly backwards?"

Amber had asked the question without looking away from the magazine. We were in this hotel in Philadelphia, my cousin was getting married and Amber and I went down a night early. There was a small round table and chair in front of a window offering a picturesque view of the city, and the bedside radio was set to a local college station that played techno music.

After taking a shower I walked out of the bathroom naked, using the towel to try to get some water from my ear. Amber was lying on the bed wearing only a baby doll T-shirt. Her bare feet were crossed and her light brown patch of pubic hair was on display. Both looked inviting.

"Why would any bird want to?"

Amber shrugged. "To get out of a bad situation?"

I turned the chair so it faced the window and sat down. "But they can't see backwards. They could fly back into another bad situation."

"Like getting another bird's beak up it's butt."

I smiled. "Doesn't sound that bad to me."

Amber tossed the magazine aside, jumped off the bed and sat in my lap. "Me neither." She wrapped her arms around me and leaned down, we shared a passionate kiss followed by some lip sucking and finally some cuddling. She turned and we stared out the window at the metropolis beyond.

Amber chuckled. "How many people you think are having sex out there right now?"

"In the whole world?"

She shook her head. "Just where we can see."

"Ten, thirteen maybe."

"So few?"

I sighed. "It's why the world is such a fucked up place."

Amber thought about that for a moment. Suddenly her brow furrowed and she looked at me. "Hey, wait a sec... you can't say thirteen. I asked you how many people are having sex. Thirteen is an odd number."

"I figure someone out there is masturbating. Or if they're really lucky, they're in the middle of a threesome."

We laughed, and as we did our hands began rubbing each other's bodies. Soon Amber's hands were caressing my breasts and I had one hand up her shirt and another between her legs. My fingers traced lightly along her lower lips, creating moisture among her folds and causing her to mew like a kitten.

Amber was wet enough for me to slip a finger inside of her. After a minute I was able to add another, and that caused her hips to buck. I never like using a dildo, mostly because a plastic phallus never compares to the feeling of real physical contact. Holding her against my body, I could feel her press back when she shuddered and my hand felt the muscles in her stomach move when I hit a good spot.

Amber's arm stretched up behind my head where her hand caressed my hair and pulled a little when she reacted to my motions. The walls of her cunt squeezed against my fingers in response to my explorations. It's not enough for me to simply give pleasure; I get pleasure from feeling the reactions to what I'm doing.

Our mouths met and quickly began to devour each other. My other hand started sliding up and down over her clit, causing her hips to buck again. Amber moaned and that's when I started to use my fingertips on her clit, teasing her for a few minutes by driving her to near orgasm and then slowing down. Amber broke the kiss and cried out.

Using my hands to elicit pleasure, being able to cause her to react, making her feel more or less by varying the speed, it all made me feel powerful, and I love the feeling of power because that means I'm in control. Being in control means everything, because that means no one could take advantage of or embarrass me. It also means I'm less likely to lose control of my emotions as well.

I decided Amber had had enough and drove her to orgasm. Her body tensed and her hips moved as her butt pressed hard against my crotch. These actions were punctuated by Amber's cries of ecstasy, each one boasting my feeling of power. With a few final shakes she collapsed limp against me, her breathing shallow and ragged.

"Good?" I asked.

"Uh," gasp, "huh."

We sat there for a few moments with the city in front of us and the music playing in the background. Finally Amber got up and pulled me to my feet, leading me over to the bed where she fell down on top of the covers and dragged me with her. We kissed for a while, our mouths and lips and tongues working to build up our passion. I got her shirt off and licked and sucked on her nipples. Eventually she rewarded me by calling out my name in the heat of the moment. Finally we flipped over and she took control. Amber licked me from head to toe, spending a few minutes on my toes, and then positioned herself between my legs.

"Hand me the beads please."

There was a set of anal beads and a small tube of lube on the bedside table. She must have planned on getting into some fun. Amber lubed up the beads as I put a pillow under my hips. Then she spread some lube on my asshole, not so subtly slipping a finger inside and causing me to gasp. Amber giggled at my reaction, and then proceeded to slowly insert the beads in one at a time. I felt a jolt of pleasure as each bead stretched my hole, and when the last one was in she said, "Now for the fun part."

Amber kept her eyes firmly locked on mine as she rubbed her hands on the inside of my legs and licked my outer lips to get me worked up. Finally she spread me apart and ran her tongue up and down the sensitive skin, licking, sucking and nibbling until I was on the brink of orgasm. Grabbing the string with a small metal ring at the end, Amber sucked on my clit and sent me over the edge as she pulled the anal beads out of me one at a time.

The sensations of her eating me out as each bead stretched my anus were fantastic. And she timed it just right too, milking my orgasm for almost as long as it took to get the last bead out. I almost felt empty when it was done, like the beads had become part of me and now my body was missing them. Amber climbed onto me and we kissed and cuddled for a while, one of those sweet and tender moments that come after sex.

Eventually we started kissing some more and that led to fondling, and fondling led to licking, and that led Amber to turn around and get us into a sixty nine. I could feel her tongue caress my clit as her fingers held me open and played with my folds. My lips sucked on hers, savoring the juice that tasted of her very essence. Then I brought my hands up and over her torso, running my fingers along the crack of her ass and teasing the outer edge of her rosebud. Dipping into her pussy in order to lubricate my digits, I moved them up and slowly pressed one into her ass.

Amber elicited a moan of pleasure and slid a finger into my pussy, followed by another and soon a third, pumping them with building speed while licking and sucking on my clit. Both of us had a rhythm going, driving each other through wave after wave of stimulation, and sending shocks of pleasure through each other's bodies until we finally drove each other to another set of glorious orgasms.

I lay there, unable to move, while Amber righted herself and lay next to me. Her sweat felt cool against my skin as she leaned in and kissed me, and I could taste the mix of our juices as our tongues collided yet again. After a few minutes we settled into each other's arms. There was warm comfort in her embrace, a security I never wanted to be without.

Suddenly, Amber said, "I love you."

I almost said, "What?" because I couldn't believe what I'd heard. Luckily I stopped myself, since that could have been taken the wrong way and a long period of explaining and soothing doubts would have ensued. Instead I looked at her and said what I really felt. "I love you too." We hugged and kissed and cuddled and the world was a wonderful place full of possibilities.

After Amber took a shower, and I took another one, we got dressed and walked from our hotel to South Street. There were bars and all kinds of places to check out. By the time we ended up in the tattoo parlor we'd both had quite a few drinks. I brought Amber to the flash art board and showed her the tattoo I'd always wanted to get -- a naked devil woman complete with red skin, horns and a tail, resting on her knees and looking back with seduction in her eyes. Amber thought it was cool, but we ended up going with her suggestion, which was getting our names tattooed onto each other.

At first I thought it was a bad idea, since most people ended up regretting such decisions, but then I also remembered thinking how my father would have called it "ghetto" to do such a thing. His contempt for others based on social class always pissed me off, which is probably why I still have a tattoo of Amber's name over a heart just below my belly button. She got a similar design with my name in the same place, and then we went to a bar to celebrate. Every round was considered "post-surgical anesthetic", and since we self- prescribed our needs there were many rounds to be had before leaving.

On the way back to the hotel we passed a theater where the show had ended and the audience was socializing outside. They looked like an uptight bunch, mostly dressed in suits and expensive gowns. After we turned the corner, Amber looked at me with the aforementioned wild look in her eyes.

"I dare you," she said, sounding out of breath with the excitement of her idea, "to streak those people!"

I stared at her, the automatic response of protest caught somewhere in my throat. I would love to blame it on the booze, but alcohol held no cause or reason in what I did. The truth is, looking into those eyes, the eyes of the girl I loved most in this world, and seeing her child-like expression of excitement, I knew I couldn't say no. To let her down would cause an emotional hurt in the deepest core of my being.

I could never refuse her. If she asked me to rob a bank or beat the shit out of a biker chick twice my size I'd have done my best to make her happy. To say you don't understand this is to earn my pity, because in my opinion you're someone who has never experienced love in it's truest form.

I was excited to do it, yet as I began to take my clothes off I started to feel strange. At first I couldn't put my finger on it, like trying to recall the name of someone you recognized but couldn't place. But when I saw Amber watching me with a glint in her eye it hit me -- this is the first bit of exhibitionism I'd done since Heather got me to strip and masturbate. For a moment I almost stopped because it scared me.

Here I was once again taking my clothes off and performing an act in order to gain someone else's approval and also for their amusement. Was I setting myself up again? No, that couldn't be the case this time, since Heather had played me from the beginning, using the promise of a relationship to trick me into getting something for her, while Amber is my girlfriend already, and I know the only thing she's looking to do is satisfy her own wacky sensibilities. That's fine by me.

Once I finished stripping a bolt of excitement coursed through my body. I was naked, outside, in the middle of a city. Feeling the cool air on every inch of my skin sparked something primal in me, and suddenly I wanted to be nude outside all the time.

"Go for it!" Amber yelled, and our combined excitement sent me sprinting around the corner. Despite bare feet masking my approach, some of the theatergoers spotted me before I reached them and I heard a combination of gasps and laughs. I bumped into a few bodies as I ran through, and even felt one hand grab at me. Before I knew it I was past them and coming up on the corner. The plan was for Amber to circle around the block and meet me with my clothes. That was the plan, but not what happened.

As I rounded the building I slammed into someone, a person way too heavy to be Amber. It was a cop. His partner was standing next to him, and both of them stared at me for a moment.

"Well this ought to be quick," the female partner said. "We don't have to search her."

As I felt the cuffs snap around my wrists, I looked up the street and saw Amber's head peek around the corner. I wasn't sure, but for a moment I thought she was smiling. Later, after she bailed me out of jail, Amber said she had seen the cops before I came but didn't think there was anything she could do. I told her claiming that someone had just stolen her dog and ran "that way" would have been a good way to distract them. The "oh yeah" that came after my suggestion didn't help much.

The cops pulled me away and walked me back past the theater crowd. They clapped and hooted and whistled at my arrest. Someone yelled, "That's what you get!" Once again I was publicly humiliated.

The changing rooms in Va Vem were six large cubes with heavy curtains for doors and wide wooden benches for sitting. There were handrails on each wall, put there after a lawsuit that demanded handicapped assistance, and a narrow mirror that only worked for people size two or below. Of course the handrails weren't the big, round aluminum ones you usually see, a trendy store wouldn't do that. These were thin ornate metal ones painted black, not very good for someone having to lean all their body weight against their hand. Can't let convenience get in the way of style.

"You're boss not here today?" I asked as the memory of Philadelphia pushed my feelings about Amber back into the hate column.

"You forget so quickly," she said. "I've told you she's never in before noon. Party girl, remember?"

I smiled. "So it's just you and me, all alone." My hand fingered cold metal in my pocket again, and the feeling of power returned.

Amber grabbed me by the coat and dragged me into one of the rooms. Pulling me close, she engaged a quick kiss and said, "If a customer comes in, they can take what they want."

She yanked my coat off and tossed it onto the bench. It landed with a thud, the sound of something heavy striking the wood bench, certainly not what you'd expect from a piece of cloth. Amber stopped and looked at it, turning back to me with a curious look on her face. "What the hell are you carrying in there?"

I smiled and tried to play it off. "Now who forgets so quickly? That little metal Buddha I got from my grandfather. Never go anywhere without it, remember?" But I really did leave without it, and I started to wonder if that meant bad luck.

The curious look went away. "Never going to change, are you?"

"There's comfort in old habits," I said. It almost sounded sinister, even though I didn't intend for it to, but Amber just smiled and pulled me in for another kiss. She started unbuttoning her blouse from the top down and I started helping her from the bottom up. Underneath she wore a lacy peach bra that I normally would have taken a moment to admire, but the passion of the moment took away any meaning for it beyond something in my way and I discarded it quickly. I did take a moment to admire Amber's breasts, two beautiful melon shaped globes with small brown areolas.

My body leaned forward, almost bowing to their presence, as my tongue traced along where the brown met white skin. Amber let out a breath, her hand going to the side of my head, caressing me as my tongue caressed her. Fingertips ran along the outside of my ear as my tongue zeroed in on her nipple, flicking the stiff skin until she begged me to suck on it. I granted her wish, and as I did Amber's hand moved down to my own breast, caressing and squeezing, pinching and rolling, working her magic that I have longed for these past months.

We traded positions, allowing Amber's mouth to feast on my breast while I caressed her tit. Giving each other mutual pleasure was what we always did best. It was something I'd learned from another ex, who told me that the best sex is always shared. Amber easily picked up the philosophy, probably because sharing herself was never a problem.

She finished both my tits and came back to my face for more kissing. While we did that Amber took off her skirt and tossed it. Underneath she wore a pair of V- string panties, and I slid my hands around to her naked butt and started caressing it. She moaned in my mouth and I swear I felt the heat from her passion flowing into me.

Finally I pushed Amber away and pulled her into a sitting position on the bench. Keeping close to my jacket was important. I got to my knees, pulled off her panties, and received a surprise from my ex-girlfriend. There was a different tattoo where my name had once been; it was now a large green unicorn. Amber must have realized why I stopped. "I guess you didn't get yours covered over."

"No," I said, "It's still there."

Anger started welling up in the pit of my stomach, but I stopped it from getting out of control. Things were going so well with my plan, I didn't want to screw it up now. I avoided saying anything else, just spread her legs gently and returned to her. My nostrils picked up on her musky scent like a favorite memory from childhood while my tongue found moisture in her folds and soaked in it. I licked the delicate skin and savored in the ability to make her purr.

Centering on her clit, my tongue flicked and caressed and made Amber respond in grunts and gasps. I dragged a finger through her lips, giving her other sensations to enjoy while I did this. Finally I brought my finger to Amber's entrance and slowly slid it inside of her. A long moan came from her mouth. I let the finger sit for a moment, occasionally wiggling it to tease her about what was coming next. When I was sure she was ready for it I started pumping, slowly gliding in and out of her until I built up a steady pace.

Amber's hands were on my head, her fingers weaving through my hair as they caressed my scalp. I felt like they were urging me on, almost like a cheering section, pushing me towards giving her a climax. I upped my speed and made it happen, her body going rigid as she gripped my hair and cried out loud, then slowly releasing her grip on me as she went limp and leaned back. Her breathing was heavy but slowing as she said, "That was great."

But I wasn't done yet. I pulled my finger out as my tongue licked all over her pussy, bathing in her juice and keeping myself worked up. When I heard her start to moan again I knew she was ready, and before she could say anything I slid my tongue inside her. Amber let out a sharp cry, indicating I'd succeeded in surprising her. The warm embrace of her pussy on my tongue was heaven, and I would have loved to keep it there, but I needed to keep Amber happy too and so I started working it in and out, fucking her.

"Oh my, this is, is... oh," was the most she could say during this time. I kept it up for a while, at least until my mouth started getting sore from staying open for so long. Finally I pulled out my tongue and replaced it with two fingers, giving my mouth a break. As I did this, I positioned my other hand under her pussy, sliding the fingers along her butt crack.

Amber said, "Yes," indicating that she knew where I was going. I teased her rosebud with my index finger, getting it ready for an invasion. Amber cried out and I knew she was about to cum, so just as she did I pressed my finger into her ass. That caused her to buck wildly and my hands had to move with her.

I could see the sweat glisten on her forehead, and Amber seemed so much more passionate and wild than when we'd had sex before. At first I thought maybe she'd learned something new since we parted ways, or maybe the girl I hear she's shacking up with is someone who can really bring out the beast in her. But then I realized this is just the two of us having sex, like it was before. Deep down I'd always blamed myself for not keeping her happy, but maybe it's not who Amber's with that does it for her. Maybe it's what she shouldn't be doing that turns her on.

"My, my, aren't you a hottie."

Those were the first words Amber said upon being introduced to me. Normally I wouldn't have a problem with that kind of reaction, but since she was sitting next to her girlfriend at the time it made things slightly uncomfortable.

We were at a party, given by my friend Kaye at the apartment she shared with her girlfriend Maggie. To know the two of them you would never think that they could work as a couple. Kaye has always reminded me of Katherine Hepburn, carrying a social elegance and grace matched with a fiercely independent attitude and a mouth that will tell you where you can stick it. She has curly, shoulder length brown hair and looks as good in jeans and a T-shirt as she does in a dress, one of those people that clothes always seem to hang off of just right.

Maggie is just the opposite. With her jet-black hair, piercings, tattoos and seemingly endless wardrobe of punk rock shirts, black jeans and combat boots, she has hard case written all over her. But most of the time she's pretty quiet and subdued, and the few times we've had the chance to talk I got the impression she has a good head on her shoulders. I also found out there's more to her than meets the eye.

Despite her appearance I was surprised to learn she's a chemical engineer and also earns some extra money playing violin in a four string quartet. What's really important about her is that in the eight months that they've been together, I've never seen Kaye so happy.

When I arrived at the apartment I noticed three women I'd never seen before. The first was an absolute knockout with long blonde hair and the most luscious lips I'd ever seen. Maggie introduced her as Michelle, a friend from college that was staying with them for a while. Kaye had told me over the phone that she'd had her first threesome the other night with Maggie and Michelle. I was very jealous, but apparently I wasn't the only one because the whole night Kaye was giving Michelle a very cold attitude. Suddenly I realized that she could be worried about losing Maggie to such a beauty.

The other two new faces were sitting on the couch. Mandy was a soft butch in her early thirties with dark hair cut pageboy style and a pair of eyes that were made for the description "shifty". The other woman I've already described, because her name was Amber. I assumed they were a couple because Mandy had one arm around Amber's shoulder and a hand on her leg. Amber didn't seem to mind. I noticed how Mandy seemed to keep physical contact with Amber no matter how she moved. When Amber leaned forward to hear my friend Samantha talk, Mandy moved the arm behind her to keep a hand on Amber's back. When Amber sat back, Mandy put her arm around Amber like she was claiming territory.

A little while later I ran into Kaye in the kitchen. "Where do you know Mandy and Amber from?"

"You know those college Alumni meetings I go to?"

I smiled. "Kaye, those aren't Alumni meetings, they're excuses to go to a bar."

Kaye shrugged. "I met Amber at one. She graduated two years ago, moved here and wanted to meet new people."

"You notice anything funny about Mandy?"

"Other than the fact that she can't keep her hands to herself?" Kaye scrunched up her shoulders and made a face. "Ugh, creepy. I can't stand clingy women."

"This coming from a someone who talks about her girlfriend like she's better than chocolate."

"Maggie is certainly not better than chocolate." Kaye said. Then she was quiet, and I waited for it. Her face betrayed the effort of trying to prevent her mouth from saying anything else. It didn't last long. "She's as good as chocolate, because nothing is better than chocolate."

I laughed, but noticed Kaye looked like she was holding back tears. I put an arm around her. "Is it Michelle?"

"Mostly," she said.

"Do you want to talk?"

Kaye shook her head. "No."

"Do you want to help me drop a couch on Michelle?"

Kaye laughed. "No."

"Want to get blind drunk and moon people?"

Kaye hesitated. "Probably, but later."

I gave Kaye a hug and then helped her burn hors d'oeuvres. As I brought them around to people I ran into Maggie and mentioned what Kaye had said about her and chocolate, hoping that might help if she was having any thoughts of straying. Even though I didn't know Maggie that well, I didn't want to think she was capable of it

Soon the party was going full swing. There was plenty of drinking, a little drug abuse, and a bathroom that served as a revolving door for encounters. Some of those encounters were between people who had never met before, others were between people in a relationship, and a few were a dangerous mix of the two. It made waiting to pee a little exciting.

I was doing just that when the door opened and a lone guy came out. No excitement there. I went in and had the door almost shut when a hand stopped it. Before I had a chance to say anything Amber slipped in. She turned to me with a pack of cigarettes in her hand.

"You mind?" she said with a twinge of hurt puppy in her voice. "I'm really jonesing and Mandy will go nuts if she sees me having one."

I smiled. "No problem." Amber smiling back at me was like finding out everything was right with the world. I pointed at the toilet. "You don't mind, do you?"

"Nothing I don't do everyday."

I pulled down my panties and did my business. At one point I looked up and noticed Amber staring at me like she was contemplating something. Then again maybe she was just staring into space and mentally making her grocery list. When she gave a slight smile I knew it was the former. Amber blew smoke out of her nostrils and I suddenly felt very self-conscious. She smiled and said, "Tell me something interesting about yourself."

I thought about it and then shrugged. "I collect hunting knives."

"You don't look like the hunting type."

"That's because I don't."

A wry smile crossed her face, like she was enjoying this. "Then why do you collect them?"

"It's the feeling they give me."

When I got up and flushed Amber walked over to me. "I'm sorry," she said while holding up her pack of cigarettes, "I didn't offer you one."

"Thanks." I pulled one from the pack and stuck it in my mouth, but before I could get out my lighter Amber struck a match and held it up. Our eyes locked as I put my face forward, the match setting fire to the cigarette between us. When I pulled back Amber kept the match held up, letting it burn down until it was just on top of her fingertips. With a second to spare she blew it out.

I let out some smoke and our eyes found each other again through the haze. Suddenly Amber took a step towards me, closing the space between us to a few inches. The power of her intention was almost palatable. Maybe it was the booze, or the fact that I couldn't stand Mandy's clingy nature, or the fact that I'd been catching glances from Amber all night, but I didn't stop her.

We stood there staring at each other. Soon tension became anticipation. Finally I couldn't take it anymore and said, "So..."

Suddenly Amber shoved her face into mine and we were kissing passionately. I'd been single for a while, quite a while actually, and had almost forgotten how good kissing feels. It all came back -- the softness, the wetness, and the odor of saliva on skin. My hands moved up her stomach and settled on her breasts, and I could feel her nipples through the fabric of her blouse. Just as I gave a gentle squeeze someone pounded on the bathroom door. Amber jumped back. We could hear laughter and the voices of people we didn't know, but the moment was lost. Amber smiled and I opened the door and we walked out.

The next morning I felt like shit, and that had nothing to do with a hangover. It wasn't that I didn't like the kiss; in fact, I loved the kiss. Thinking about it made me warm and fuzzy and excited in all the right places. What made me feel like shit about it was the fact that I let it happen. No, I wanted it to happen. Amber was a taken girl, very taken by Marcy's standards, and I had never thought of myself as the kind of girl that kisses another girl's girl, especially when the girl's other girl is in the same building. I think I just confused myself.

I wasn't sure why I did what I did. Part of it I blamed on the long stretch since my last sexual encounter, and the even longer one since my last girlfriend. I also blamed it on Amber's allure, something about her was just intoxicating. A combination of her look and the way she carried herself that made the air around her seem like it could combust at any moment. I wanted to put some of it on Marcy for being so annoying, but I knew that shouldn't matter. I also wanted to give Amber some credit for initiating the kiss, but I knew that shouldn't matter either.

In my book other people are going to do what they're going to do because that's their choice. What I do is my choice, because I only have control over me. I didn't break the kiss or push Amber away, telling her I was flattered but what we were doing wasn't right. Deep down I knew I didn't want to do any of that. Even worse, right now I wanted to kiss her again.

What I needed was someone to talk to, a friend from whom I could get advice and support. Unfortunately I couldn't call any of them. Sure, there are a few who could have related to my situation because they would have done the same thing, but sans the guilt, which is exactly what I didn't want to hear. And as much as I wanted Kaye's thoughtful, intelligent advice, I knew that right now wasn't the time. There was this sinking feeling in my gut that she was going through something similar, except she was on the Mandy side of the equation. Any advice would be tainted with her personal problem, not to mention the fact that I'd get read the riot act for being a Michelle.

So I decided to handle it myself, and myself decided to let it go. I would lift all the guilt of my actions, and inactions, off of my shoulders. I allowed two last minutes to feel bad about the situation, and then just forgave myself and moved on. But the get-out-of-jail- free card came with a price, and that price was letting go of my desires to be with Amber again. I couldn't think about her, try to contact her, or masturbate about her. If we ran into each other again I would be polite, sociable, and completely immune to her charms. No more lip locking, saliva swapping or melon picking. I was Amber-free and Amber-proof.

This all worked wonderfully. Right up to the next moment I saw her.

That moment was a few days later at The Litter Box. Amber showed up solo, and she squeezed between my friend Margaret and I even though there was a free seat across the table. We started talking, and everyone and everything else just melted away. Not far into conversation she dropped the fact that she and Mandy were having relationship trouble.

A few minutes later she laughed and clapped at something I said, and as she put her hands down one of them rested on my leg. At that moment someone could have started shooting in the club and I wouldn't have noticed or cared. I was too busy starting up the internal war between what I wanted and who I wanted to be. This was an opportunity to be one or the other, but I didn't know which way to go.

My eyes happened to be looking at the door when I noticed Kaye walking in. I started to wave, but when I saw the look on her face I excused myself from Amber. Kaye didn't walk towards the table; instead she went straight to the bar and ordered three shots of vodka.

"You okay?" I asked as I walked up.

She downed the first shot. "No."

"Want to talk about it?"

She downed the second shot. "No."

"Planning on killing Michelle?"

Kaye had been lifting the third shot to her lips as I asked. She hesitated for a moment, the rim of the shot glass just barely an inch from her mouth, the heat from her breath fogging up the side of the glass.

"No," she said, and then downed the shot.

"Good," I said. "From now on I'm just going to hand you a questionnaire. It'll save me some time."

Kaye turned and leaned against the bar. "Tell me something. Do you think that there's a person out there, someone you'd be willing to... to throw everything away for? Someone you'd be willing to risk everything that's important to you?"

I could tell the alcohol was having an effect on her. But Kaye's questions also made me think. Looking over at the table, my eyes focused on Amber. I stared at her for a few moments before I answered.

"Yes," I said. No question about it now I realized, no doubts or second thoughts or guilt. And fuck Mandy and whatever sob story comes later. I was going for it.

When I turned back to Kaye she was already gone, just disappeared without me noticing, and little did I know that it was the last I would see of her for a long time. A few days later I found out she just up and moved away to another city, and when I spoke to her on the phone she said something about wanting to find more challenging work. Kaye teaches sixth graders, how much more challenging could that be?

At the time I didn't know where she had gone, and I was worried about how she was behaving, so I started back towards the table to see if she was there and suddenly realized I had problems of my own. Amber was talking to Julie, an ex of mine who has a big mouth, a small heart, and inhibitions that are nowhere to be found. Before I knew what she was like, I made the mistake of telling Julie about my Slasher Movie history in high school. Amber was getting an earful about me, and more than likely she wouldn't be interested by the time Julie was done talking. There went everything.

I stood there frozen, the rage building up inside of me. I was angry with Julie, but even angrier with yours truly for not jumping in when the opportunity presented itself. Now it was lost forever.

"Blossom, you okay?" Margaret asked when she noticed me standing there. Suddenly everyone from the table, including Julie and Amber, were staring at me. I ran.

Amber had me bent over and legs spread, her fingers pistoning in and out of my pussy while her tongue rimmed my asshole. The bench I was kneeling on was made of long pieces of wood with spaces in-between, which made it very uncomfortable. But I could see the two of us in the mirror on the opposite wall, and it turned me on so much to see us having sex that the uncomfortable pain was bearable.

Pulling her fingers out of my pussy, Amber moved them to my clit and started playing with it as her tongue pressed into my anus. I pinched my nipples as the velvet of her tongue moved inside of me, going in and out and around my sensitive rosebud, and when she increased the speed of her fingers on my clit it all drove me to one of the best orgasms I could ever remember.

After a few moments of repositioning, we lay together on the bench, breathing heavily as we were coming down, Amber leaning against me, my jacket just inches away from our heads. I started to reach towards it when Amber asked, "So, how are your folks?"

The simple pleasantry of the question after such an intimate act caused me to burst out laughing. Amber laughed too, and I realized she'd done it to lighten the situation, trying to keep us from talking about more unpleasant things. "They're good. Driving each other crazy as usual."

"Yeah, but they're happy around each other. Always wanted to know how they did that."

Her words struck a memory in me. "You know, you never talked about your parents. Every time I tried to bring them up you'd change the subject or get pissed off at me. Why was that?"

Amber sighed. I looked over and noticed that her eyes were closed and a hand was at her forehead. "Do we need to talk about this now?"

I shrugged. "As good a time as any."

She opened her eyes and looked at me. "I had a teacher once tell me that fathers are important. Always thought that was funny he never thought mothers were important too. All I had was my dad. Mom ran out somewhere early on, I never got the whole story on that one."

"Your dad never re-married?"

"I'm not sure he was married to my mom in the first place. Probably her luck, he wasn't really the marriage type." She snorted. "Not the relationship type either. He had a problem breaking up with women."

"He didn't want to hurt them."

Amber chuckled and rolled her eyes. "Yeah. So he devised this system, I guess. He'd start seeing the next one before he broke up with the last one." She looked at me. "That usually sent the message. Guy was a bastard."

I stared at Amber, completely at a loss for words. Apparently no one ever taught her irony.

"I thought you had a gyno appointment!"

Amber blurted out the statement as she pulled the covers over her naked body. It wasn't a completely ironic action. Even though I'd seen her without clothes plenty in the past year and a half of our relationship, for the first time I was seeing her really naked.

The blonde Amber was laying on top of before I walked into the room leaned up on her elbows. "Well ain't this a bitch," she said. Amber must have met her at the gym. The muscles in her arms and torso spoke of hours of weightlifting and if the deep voice wasn't natural it was definitely a result of steroid use.

"It got cancelled," I said, then turned and stormed out. Amber didn't even try to chase me. When I came back to the apartment later she had taken all her stuff. Not even a note to try and explain.

I spent the next four months in a rut. Go to work, come home, watch TV, read, go to sleep. Wake up and repeat. There were two one-night stands somewhere in there, but neither one felt worthy of pursuing. They say time heals all wounds, but mine just seemed to keep getting worse. I was in love with Amber, and that love deepened the more time we spent together and the more memories we created. Those feelings weren't going away overnight, and added with the sting of betrayal, it was tearing my insides apart. The more time went on the worse I felt.

This all led up to last night when I went out with my friend Mitch, who told me a night out would make things better. He brought me to a place called Snips to see a few bands play. It was the kind of dive every local band plays - two small rooms, one with a bar and the other with a small stage that barely fit the drum kit, basically a place for people to take up space for a cover charge.

Mitch spent most of his nights there while his days were filled with one part time job at a supermarket and another part time job running numbers for a local bookie. While Mitch is no brain surgeon, he's exactly the type of person you want to be with when you're just looking for mindless entertainment.

The band on the stage was called Carcass Crowd Surfers, and they were the worst band I'd ever heard in my life. They played heavy metal, which I'm not a fan of in the first place, but these guys somehow managed to make it worse. Their sound was somewhere between shredding an iron with a hand grater and stepping on the tail of a goat. I stepped up the pace of my drinking just to outrun the headache that was building from my ears inward.

At one point Mitch asked me, "So how's the post-Amber recovery going?"

"I woke up today and thought about killing myself before breakfast."

Mitch stared at me. "So why didn't you?"

"My cat."

He smiled. "Didn't want her to lose her mommy?"

"I didn't want her to take a shit on my face afterwards. Not the way I want to be remembered."

"Huh, at least it's a way to be remembered." Mitch leaned over to me. "You know what," he said breathing whisky fumes towards my face. "I'm going to open a place like this, but I'm going to call it The Shit Hole. Might as well call something what it is."

When I got home I realized I'd had a horrible time and decided to finish the night on some kind of up note. Looking for something to help pleasure myself, I went to the drawer where I keep all my sex toys. There were vibrators, clit stimulators, a pair of handcuffs, a set of vaginal beads, a set of anal beads, a tube of lube, nude pictures of ex-girlfriends, and, sitting at the bottom of all this, a hunting knife.

I shut the drawer quickly and sat on the bed. How the hell had the knife gotten in there? Did I put it there? I must have, because it wasn't there last week. At least I don't think it was there last week. I tried to remember the last time I had my knives out. Two days ago, I was sharpening them.

Later that night I went through a fit of anger about Amber, realized I'd been off my pills the whole day. Anger flooded back into my brain as all the thoughts I'd had during the fit came back, all the pain and embarrassment and heartache. Then I remembered the letter I'd received the other day, and suddenly I knew leaving the knife in there was no accident. It was meant to remind me of something.

I got up and walked over to the drawer, opened it, and said, "You're just what I need."

Lying on the bench, I held Amber close to me. My eyes settled on her neck and I could see it move with her heartbeat. I could feel my own heart beating heavily in my chest and imagined they were beating in sync. I used to think we were one like that. We were a permanent, constant part of nature and nothing could break us up. We simply existed together, unable to exist apart.

Without looking at me, Amber sighed and said, "I miss this."

It was like a switch was flipped. Suddenly every scrap of anger inside of me coalesced and brought back the monster. She missed this? Missed it! She's the one who fucked it up! And the way she said it... like we had some amicable parting of the ways! Hell, even if we argued our way into a breakup. She fucked someone else!

I needed to hurt her. She had to feel my pain, the searing, hateful pain that had torn my heart into pieces and left me feeling like a hollow version of what I once was. Suddenly I remembered how dangerous the world felt again once she'd left, how alone I felt. When you're with someone you've grown as a person, and when they break up with you suddenly all that growth is whisked away. It's like getting a third arm and then having it cut off. Okay, these examples are getting a little disgusting, back to the revenge.

I reached toward my jacket and slipped my hand in the pocket. There was the feel of metal again.

"What are you doing?" Amber asked.

I stopped and looked at her. "Grabbing a smoke."

"I thought you quit?"

"One of the casualties of your betrayal."

A look of regret crossed her face, and for a moment I thought she might apologize. But then she looked away and muttered, "Don't blame me 'cause you have no control." Amber stretched her body, with her arms over her head, making herself completely vulnerable. I realized this was my moment to strike.

"I left my favorite clit stimulator at your place."

Amber's voice came over my answering machine sounding like she was ordering a pizza. Of course this was four months after I found her cheating on me, so she had probably gotten over the embarrassment. But for me it wouldn't stop playing over and over in my head. Not to mention the fact that my heart was shattered. Just hearing her voice sent me into a fit.

I took my mail into the bedroom and started to go through it, crying uncontrollably and looking for something to distract me from my despair. There were bills, junk mail, an offer to fly to Hawaii if I was willing to hear a pitch about a time-share, and one small envelope addressed by hand and written in green ink. The name on the return address was H. Pollard. At first the name didn't mean anything. Then it came to me -- the girl I'd stabbed in high school.

Inside was a four-page letter. Heather started out explaining that she spent many years angry with me for what I did, and even considered suing me at one point. I almost stopped there, but curiosity grabbed hold of my senses and pushed me to keep reading. Heather went on to describe how she dropped out of college after getting pregnant. Even though it's been hard raising a child single-handedly, she said she never regrets the decision.

Her son Chris recently started sixth grade and developed a crush on a girl. He wrote a love letter and sneaked it into her bag, but when she found it the girl made fun of him in front of her friends. By the next day almost everyone at school had seen or heard about the letter and Chris was picked on mercilessly. The poor kid went home crying, devastated to the point where he doesn't even want to go back to school.

While Heather always realized she wasn't innocent in our situation, she thought I had overreacted when I stabbed her. All that changed when she felt such a blinding anger towards the girl who caused Chris so much pain that she considered calling the girl's mother. That's when she remembered the phone call my mother placed to her mother after the video became public. As Heather comforted her son, she felt an overwhelming sense of guilt because once she had been that girl. And she realized what she'd done to me was ten times worse than showing people a love letter.

Now she completely understands how angry I was when I stabbed her, and even though it was fourteen years too late she wanted to express how sorry she was for what she did. While there is nothing she can do to change what happened, she hoped I would accept her apology. She ended the letter asking if I would write her back to tell her how I felt and how my life was going.

What goes around comes around. Just like my mother had said.

"Wait! Don't go! You can't leave me like this!"

Amber yelled those words as I pushed back the curtain at VaVem and put my jacket on. She pulled against the handcuff that was secured around her wrist, and then tried to pull at the other one secured to the handrail. Neither one would budge. And while the handrail wasn't the best choice for what it was made for, it was made very well, so that someone much stronger than Amber couldn't just pull it out of the wall. I grabbed her clothes and started walking away.

"Blossom please! I'll get fired!"

When I got to the checkout area I tossed Amber's stuff on the floor. Then I took the key to the handcuffs and put it on the counter, turned and started for the door. I thought of Amber's boss coming in, finding her in there, unlocking the handcuffs and firing her.

"You fucking bitch! I never really loved you!"

That stopped me cold, and suddenly another thought ran through my head. Amber's boss calling the police to get her out of the cuffs. They don't have the tools, so they have to call the fire department. One thing I've learned is that if you're going to embarrass someone, make sure there's enough of an audience. I went back to the counter and grabbed the key.

There was a bar down the street with a window view of Va Vem. I went in and ordered a double Long Island Iced Tea, took up a window seat and passed the time by trying to decide if I should write Heather back. Yes, she did something horrible to me, but she also learned about being on the other side of it too. I thought about how it just takes a little time for things to work out.

And sometimes it doesn't take long at all, like when I caught sight of Amber's boss walking into Va Vem. It only took fifteen minutes for the police to get there, and just another ten for the fire truck to arrive. They probably ran over people after hearing the call was to cut a naked woman out of some handcuffs.

I decided to make my getaway after that, since Amber might come up with some halfway believable story to explain what happened. Probably not, remembering how badly she failed to come up with an excuse for the cops in Philly. Maybe she'd get fired and maybe not, but that didn't matter because what I'd wanted to do was finished. And at that moment I decided to write Heather back and offer her my forgiveness, because you can't hold on to hate forever.

I walked out of the bar headed for a new destination, a tattoo shop where I planned to have Amber's name covered over with that devil woman I wanted. Time to start fresh.

THE END


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