Really apologize for the delay. There will probably only be one ore two more of these after this chapter.

Read, enjoy comment!

Rating: PG-13


Chapter Six-Part 2

“Ma?”

She barges in stopping short when she sees my…visitor.

“I knew it.” She reels on me. “Janie, you gotta get rid of her.”

How’d I know this would be an issue?

“Look, Ma, we need to talk. I—”

“Stop.” She holds up a hand forestalling any further explanation. “It’s okay, Jane, really it is. We can talk about all this later, but right now Maura is on her way over.”

“Maura’s on the way here?”

“Yes.”

My mother turns to the waitress.

“Sweetheart, you mind gathering your things?”

I stop my mother from tossing my guest out.

“She’s not going anywhere. Tell me what’s going on.”

My mother heaves an annoyed sigh before glancing at her watch.

“Maura found out you left without saying goodbye and apparently Reggie saw you leave.”

“Yeah, I thought she saw me.”

“Well she did and with a pretty young woman to boot.”

“Hey, thanks.”

“No, problem, honey.” My mother continues. “Anyway, Maura flew off the handle. She’s angry at you for leaving in the middle of the party and at Reggie for not saying anything.” She takes another gander at her watch. “I left in the middle of their argument because I figured Maura’s next stop would be here. I didn’t want her to find you here with another woman.”

That’s a lot to take in.

“Wait a minutes. Why can’t Maura find me with a woman? She’s with one.”

Her face is the picture of incredulity. “That’s her girlfriend. This…this is a…it’s a one night stand,” she finally gets out. “No offense.”

“None taken,” the waitress soothes.

My mother has a point, but that doesn’t tamp down my indignation. Maura’s allowed to just change the rules, completely disrupt the nature of our relationship, yet I’m not allowed to explore on my own? That’s bullshit!

“I don’t care about the circumstances, Ma. It’s my life and I will do with it as I please, just like Maura is. That’s my right.”

“You’re absolutely right.”

The three of us all turn to find Maura standing in the doorway. I can’t imagine what we must look like.

My mother looks at her watch again. “Crap! You made me lose track of time,” she angrily spits at me. “I’m leaving. Young lady, I think it’s time you did too.”

Following my mother’s orders she moves to gather her things.

“Wait, no. I told you, Ma, she doesn’t have to go.”

“Jane—”

“No, it’s okay. Once she has her bag hoisted onto her shoulder the waitress wraps me in an intimate hug and places a lingering kiss on my cheek. I know what she’s doing and I’ve never been more grateful to a stranger.

“Good luck,” she whispers before we part. “Call me,” she says for everyone to hear then follows my mother out. “Oh, and it’s Gretchen.”

That makes me smile despite the tension that Maura seemed to have brought with her.

“Are you okay?” she asks after shooting daggers at Gretchen with her eyes.

I unconsciously look down at myself then back at her. “Fine.”

“That’s odd because for you to just leave in the middle of my party with no goodbye, something must be wrong.”

Maura’s anger is subtler than the average persons, but I know it when I see it.

“Well, honestly, I wasn’t feeling one hundred percent so—”

“So you had a attractive, young stranger escort you home?”

Shit.

I’m feeling terribly guilty all of a sudden and I can’t place why. Well partially I can. I abandoned Maura on her birthday. What’s more I picked up a chick in the process. As guilty as I am I won’t continue to allow myself to feel so. For once in a very long time I seized a moment, and damn it I’m proud.

“What do you expect me to be, alone forever?”

I move to the island and grab another shot. The liquor from the party is just now starting to catch up with what I’ve had here. No more being careful. It’s clear Maura came here for a showdown. If she wants it she can certainly have it.

My emotional capacity for complacent silence has finally been breached. Only took two years. I’ve felt like I was better off as Maura’s friend than nothing at all, but nothing at all is looking more attractive by the minute.

“No, of course not. I was worried, Jane.” She puts her clutch on the back of the couch and faces me. “You throw me this phenomenal party, invite all my friends and family, give me the best present I’ve ever gotten in my life, and then disappear. How do you think that makes me feel? I thought something serious happened to you.”

Great, now I feel guilty with a dash of remorse.

“God, you and Reggie are quite the pair.”

Why’d she have to mention Reggie?

“Yeah, well Reggie—”

“Is clueless!”

I’m shocked into silence.

“I’m sorry,” she sighs. “She just made me very angry tonight by keeping your departure a secret.”

“She probably thought it wasn’t her place.”

Way to defend her, Jane.

Maura shrugs off my point. “Did you see what she got me?”

I look away.

“Of course you did.”

We stand in silence for long tense moments. What’s there to be said?

“When are we going to stop playing these games, Jane?”

She continues at my questioning look.

“Don’t try to deny it. We’ve been dancing around this for months now. And—”

“Months?”

That word slams into me like a projectile. It rips through my tender flesh and pierces my heart.

“Months? Maura, are you crazy? You think we’ve been dancing around something for months?”

“Well ever since Reggie and I have been dating I’ve felt a…sexual tension between us that frankly I never expected.”

I could throw this glass I’m so angry.

“Maura! I’ve been in love with you for years! You’re just now feeling some sexual tension and that means what?”

“It means we can be together.”

“Oh, we can be together, can we? You finally take your head from your own ass long enough to look around and decide we can be together and I’m supposed to what, thank my lucky stars?”

“You know that’s not what I mean,” Maura frowns.

“No, what I know is that I’ve been here with and for you since forever. I know that I was the same woman two years ago that I am now. Apparently that wasn’t good enough so you went out and got some cheap knockoff. How’d that work out?”

Saying these words feel like sweet vindication even as I watch pain streak across Maura’s face like lightening.

“You think you have a monopoly on unrequited love? Do you think I went looking for Reggie? She found me. When I realized that she favored you that turned my no into a maybe. I’ve wanted you for so long that I knew no other woman would be able to satisfy me. But after pinning away all that time I finally decided to take the leap. I figured if she had a tenth of your character and integrity then maybe I’d be happy with her. Maybe I wouldn’t feel so…lonely anymore.”

Maura pushes away from her perch and stands in front of me.

“But she wasn’t—isn’t—good enough, Jane. I never should have thought she would be.”

“You’re right, you shouldn’t have.”

“But I’m here now, Jane. I get it.”

Side stepping around her to get some space between us my senses instantly feel the relief.

“Not good enough, Maura. You ever hear, ‘Too little, too late?’ That’s what this is.”

“Ja—”

“No! I’ve been here, day in and day out. I’ve literally bled for you. I don’t know how it could have been any clearer. Every day it was a different guy…that killed me.”

Here come the water works. I promised myself I’d never let Maura see me cry. I’m disappointing everyone tonight.

“I had to sit back and watch because I just knew you could never want me.”

“I do, I always have.”

“Well you should have shown me! I’ve been right here, Maura. Why couldn’t you see me?”

Tears roll down my face unchecked and I know I’m moments away from body wracking sobs. That I won’t let her see.

“Jane, I’m sorry.”

“You have to go,” I manage around a hiccup.

Maura looks almost frightened. “We need to talk about this.”

“We just did, now I want to be alone.”

Making my way to the door I hold it open in hopes of forestalling any further argument.

“Jane, please, I’ll give you your privacy, but we need to talk more about this.”

I avoid eye contact making my intentions clear.

“Fine,” she sighs. “See you Monday.”

She leaves with no further argument and I head for the shower.

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