Phonecalls

March 12th :12:04am

 

The office was quiet, the only sound the irregular rhythm of keyboard keys and occasional clicking of a mouse. The glow of the monitor buried most of the room in shadows, casting an eerie light across the figure frowning at the jumble of windows before her.

Are you coming to bed?” The disembodied voice startled Alaina, and she jerked her head around to stare at the speaker in confusion for a moment before shaking her head.

Um, in a bit,” she answered distractedly before turning back around. “I need to have the bugs worked out of this before I go to sleep, and I still have proofing to do.” An exasperated sigh was her answer, and she held her breath a moment in dread.

Fine. I’ll see you tomorrow night then.” Alaina turned around to bid her partner goodnight, only to find the office doorway empty.

Good night,” she called out, and rolled her eyes at the mumble she heard in return. Exasperated, she turned back to her work, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear. Scanning back through her client’s code, she struggled to make the cryptic patterns resolve into something she could follow. Finally, she slumped back into her chair and rubbed at her eyes. “Damn it,” she growled, “why do programmers have to make things so difficult!” She scratched the head of the orange tabby dozing on her computer desk, before sighing and reaching for her mouse. With a couple of clicks she brought up her messenger window.

 

Al42z: Are you up?

LM13S: Yup. Why are you still awake?

Al42z: Deadline tomorrow :), and you know how I am…

LM13S: Sure do. What can I help you with?

Al42z: Programmer-ese? I can’t make sense of this code, and the notes aren’t helping me!

LM13S: Okay…send it my way and I’ll take a look…

Al42z: Thanks, Logan…it’s on its way…

LM13S: I’ll call you in a few…on the cell…right?

Al42z: please…okay…I’ll talk to you shortly.

 

Alaina closed the window and reached for her cell. After turning the ringer off she stood up and stretched, arching her back to ease the tightness before padding silently through the apartment to the kitchen. The familiar sounds of traffic drifted up from the streets below as she scavenged a pop and snacks from the refrigerator, and she shook her head in dismay as she heard yet another siren scream past. Returning to her office she pulled the door shut behind her before settling back in front of her monitor and tackling the seemingly endless tasks she had to finish before morning. It was nearly an hour before her cell phone lit up, and she gratefully closed the last of her proofing as she scooped the phone up.

Hi.”

Hi there.” Alaina smiled and closed her eyes, leaning her head back against her chair. She could hear the low hum of music in the background and could easily visualize her friend sitting in front of her computer, much as she was.

Could you make sense of it,” she asked quietly.

Mm, yeah, after a bit. Whoever wrote that code deliberately sabotaged it, my friend, just to warn you,” Logan answered.

Wonderful. Who knows what other problems he created. Thankfully he’s no longer with the programming group that I’ve been working for. Wow, you were able to fix all those bugs,” she asked in amazement as the file popped into her inbox. Her chuckle rippled over the phone line sending goosebumps down her arms.

Sure did, gorgeous,” she answered smugly. “So, what do I get for all my hard work?” Alaina laughed softly, shaking her head as she quickly dumped all of the files into a working directory and sent her completion notice off to her employer. With that off her mind she turned away from the computer and stared out the window dreamily.

Well, I’m sure I can come up with something to repay you for your effort,” she replied, her voice dropping suggestively. The little voice in the back of her mind warning against the path the conversation was taking was silenced with little effort and she settled deeper into her chair, propping her feet up on bookshelf. “So what’s your price, sexy?” Logan coughed and cleared her throat and she chuckled. “Don’t tell me you don’t know what you want,” she asked lightly. The line was silent for a moment before her friend replied, voice low and a bit ragged.

I want you.” Alaina gasped and a small moan escaped her lips.

Logan…”

No, Alaina, you asked, I answered. Don’t open the door if you don’t want me to answer.” She reached up and pulled her hair from its clip, letting the silence grow for a moment.

I’m sorry,” she said, softly, “I guess I wasn’t thinking.” A heavy sigh drifted into the silence and she sat fiddling with a strand of brunette hair.

No, sweetie, I’m sorry. I know you didn’t…I mean…ah shit. Can we go back and try that again,” she asked plaintively. “I think I’m up past my bedtime.” Alaina dropped her head against her chair.

Sure, baby. So what’s your price, sexy?” she asked again, this time keeping her voice light and casual. Logan laughed and she smiled. “How about I take you out to dinner next time you’re in town?”

Sounds like a plan,” she answered. The silence grew again, loaded with emotion and tension. “I think we’d better get to sleep, don’t you think?”

Probably. I’m gonna get read the riot act tomorrow evening as it is,” she grumbled. Her eyes drew together as she heard a low growl on the other end of the phone. “Logan?”

Alaina, you need to tell her to get over herself. You are an artist, and work when the inspiration grabs you, not during normal working hours.” She let out a wry chuckle.

I wish I could get her to realize that, Logan, but so far I haven’t had any luck. I just hope this doesn’t scale up into a full fledged argument.” This time the silence was loaded with everything that she had heard time and again from her friend when it came to her relationship, everything they’d agreed to leave be. “Get some sleep, my friend, and thank you for you help.”

You two, sweetheart, and anytime.”

Alaina sat for a moment staring at her cell phone before reluctantly getting to her feet. Soon the computers were shut down and all was quiet as she padded barefoot down the hallway to the bedroom.

 

 

 

April 12th

4pm

 

Alaina ducked through a beaded door into a small shop, oblivious to the eclectic items cluttering its shelves as she scanned the interior. She moved deeper into the store, the noises of the street fair outside drifting in and competing with the classical music drifting from speakers behind the counter. An older woman sat behind the cash register, absorbed in a book, and a familar figure stood in the back looking curiously at a set of brass scales. Alaina stepped quietly up behind her friend, a mischievous grin curving her lips as she slid her hands familiarly up her back and over her shoulders. A brief twitch of the muscles was the only thing that gave her surprise away, and she was quickly engulfed in strong arms as Logan spun around and hugged her. Alaina let herself melt into the embrace, enjoying the hug for a long moment, before finally pulling back to smile up into piercing blue eyes.

How long do you have,” Logan asked quietly. She rolled her eyes and tugged her towards the door, waving goodbye to the clerk.

A couple of hours. C’mon, I don’t want to talk about her, let’s go!” Logan followed her willingly, but frowned in concern for a while as they made their way through the street fair. After a few minutes of fighting against the crowd they reached the end of the fair and she twined their fingers together. The taller woman glanced at Alaina worriedly and received a shake of the brunette head in warning and a fierce smile. She sighed softly and pulled them out of the foot traffic, leading them into a small park. By the time Logan found them a place to sit her eyes were glistening with unshed tears, and she dispensed with propriety and pulled her onto her lap and into her arms.

What’s wrong, sweetheart,” she asked softly. Alaina sobbed quietly on her shoulder as she rubbed her back soothingly, struggling to contain her protective streak that came out quite strongly where Alaina was concerned. Finally she quieted, but remained sitting in the curve of her arms. She watched her carefully as she cupped her hand in hers, lightly following the lines of her palm with a fingertip. “What does it say, my sweet gypsy,” Logan asked lightly. She glanced up at Logan with a slight smile and turned her attention back to the open palm.

You will have a long life,” she said, sparing her a withering look as she snorted, “you will marry, but your search for the right woman will be long. Once you marry, though, it will be a union that will last forever.” She glanced up at her and found stormy blue eyes watching her with a fathomless look. Logan met her gaze and held it, their eyes locked and loaded with emotion, time stretching for an eternity before she leaned down and brushed their lips together. “I don’t know what I’d do without you, Logan,” she whispered raggedly. A muscle in her friend’s  jaw jumped and she squeezed her hand before lifting them both to their feet.

C’mon, darlin’, I think we need to get drunk,” she stated matter-of-factly and led them across the park. Alaina followed, throwing caution to the wind, her aching heart willing to bury the conflict with her partner to be dealt with at another time.

 

 June 3rd

2:21am

Moonlight filtered in through sheer curtains, silvering two forms stretched out on the bed. As one shifted, the light glinted off of pale grey eyes. A soft sigh escaped a pair of full lips as the sleepless woman pushed herself up carefully and leaned back against the headboard. She could barely hear the rhythm of the surf outside the window over the hum of the air conditioner, and she briefly podered taking a sleeping pill. Swinging her legs over the side of the bed, she shivered against the artificial chill. A soft thrum from her bedside table made her pause, and she reached out and snagged her pulsing cell phone. Glancing at the softly glowing display, she grabbed her robe off the foot of the bed, and padded silently out of the bedroom, drawing the door shut behind her quietly.

 

Hello.” Her voice was husky with sleep, and she shrugged into her light robe before slipping out a pair of french doors into the warm, humid Atlantic air.

Hi.” One syllable and she felt a thrill ripple through her body.

You’re up late.”

Hmm…couldn’t sleep. You, too, or you wouldn’t have answered the phone.” She chuckled softly and pulled her hair out of the collar of her robe as she made her way down the steps away from the beach house and her slumbering lover.

Insomnia is a torturous thing,” she replied. A soft laugh answered her wry comment, and she settled down into a beach chair, cradling her phone against her ear. “Why can’t you sleep?” She could almost hear the answering shrug.

No clue. Haven’t slept well for a few weeks.”

Mmm. Since we started talking again.”

Mere coincidence.”

You sure about that?” Alaina waited patiently in the loaded silence, pulling a pack of cigarettes from the pocket of her robe. With a flick of her lighter and a deep inhale she watched the tip glow in the darkness.

That’s a bad habit.” She snorted softly.

I seem to be collecting them.”

Are you saying I’ve become a habit?” The voice on the other end of the phone was amused.

Seems so.” She heard an echo of her deep inhale and laughed.

Still have your habit, don’t you?”

Haven’t found a compelling enough reason to quit,” was her answer.

So am I becoming a habit for you, Logan?”

Define habit.”

Hmm…something done on a regular basis?”

I guess so,” she answered quietly. Alaina watched the waves wash up against the beach for a moment.

So. Why are we becoming each other’s bad habits?”

I didn’t say you were a bad habit…”

Ahh…but we’re up in the middle of the night, talking to each other while our girlfriends sleep unawares…and if they knew, fights would ensue. I think it’s fair to say it’s not a good habit.” Logan sighed heavily, and Alaina could imagine the frustrated posture. “Why do we do this, Logan,” she asked softly. Stubbing out her cigarette she leaned the rest of the way back in the beach chair and closed her eyes, concentrating on the voice in her ear.

Why do we do what, sweetheart?” She squeezed her eyes tighter at the endearment.

It’s been four years. Why do we keep coming back to this point?”

Apparently we have unfinished business.”

How? We had one weekend in Tennessee. You went back to Ohio…I went back to Georgia. Neither of us pursued anything. So, why do we pursue each other over and over again only to retreat every time?” Her voice cracked slightly, and she realized that the weeks of sleep deprivation were catching up to her.

Maybe because we’re meant to pursue whatever is between us to its conclusion one of these times.”

Do you want to?”

Do I want to what?”

See what would happen…besides sex.” Alaina couldn’t help but smile as Logan chuckled a bit evilly.

Hmm, yes, we do know that would happen, don’t we, gorgeous.”

I’d say that there are very good odds there.”

Where are you?”

At the beach house.”

Fighting again, huh?” She rubbed at her eyes and resisted the urge to grind her teeth.

Yeah. I don’t see a vacation fixing it this time, though.”

Why’s that?”

Because I’m talking to you.”

Are you blaming me for your failing relationship?” She could hear amusement and indignation warring in her tone.

No. I wouldn’t do that. She will. But I won’t. I know that we’ve been over for a very long time…I just didn’t have the will to just walk away, and she’s too damn obstinate to admit that she failed at something.”

Huh. Know what that means?”

Besides a lot of packing?” She laughed and Alaina smiled in response.

Yes, besides that. Means we’ll both be single for the first time since we first met.” She opened her mouth to respond and paused.

What happened with Lauren?” A barely audible grunt drift through the line.

She moved back home to Kansas. Took a job for one of the big agri-businesses.”

Figured she’d turn out to be a closet Republican.”

Mm. Yeah.” The conversation lagged and Alaina pushed herself up and out of the chair, moving out into the sand. She could hear her fidgeting, shifting around a little, and smiled to herself.

So, wanna help me move?” Logan laughed.

You want me to come from Columbus to New Jersey to help you move?”

Sure. I’ll take you out for soft shell crabs and fresh shrimp.”

Well, now, when you put it that way…”

Give me some credit, Logan, I know the way to your heart is through your stomach.”

You’re already there, Alaina…I’ve been trying to figure out for years how to win yours.”

Win it….you stole it years ago without so much as a by your leave.”

I did?”

Uh huh.”

I’m sorry.”

No you’re not.”

You’re right, I’m not.”

So will you help me move?”

On one condition.”

What’s that?”

Come home with me.” Alaina’s breath caught in her throat.

Are you serious?”

Have we ever been anything but?”

No.”

There you go.”

Sure you want to be stuck with me?”

Well, I figure the least that can happen is that we’ll both finally get some sleep.” Alaina laughed softly.

I’ll be ready next weekend.”

Well, you sure do take a gal at her word, don’t you?” Logan asked laughingly.

I need to get away from her, Logan, and the sooner the better.” She sobered quickly.

Then I’ll be there next weekend. Now, I think we’d better get some sleep.” Alaina scooped her slippers up off the bottom step of the deck.

Probably. Talk to you tomorrow?”

Of course”

Sweet dreams, darlin’”

You, too, baby.”

G’night.”

g’night.”

 

© J.M. Stone

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