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180 Degrees Ch. 03 – Crossroads

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Thank-you for taking the time to read chapter three! I highly suggest you read ‘180 Degrees’ parts 1 & 2 before this or you’ll be lost. And while being lost isn’t altogether a bad thing, missing out on how these two ladies started out would indeed, be a bad thing.

As always, great thanks go out to my beta reader/editor for all her help with this. There is no way I could publish without the help!

If you are so inclined, favorite, rate, comment, and send me some feedback. I love hearing from everyone!

#endgame

**********************

TASHA

Another quiet weekend was nearly over. Abby’s grandkids had been here for the first part of it, but they were dropped off by their parents. There hadn’t been a lot of need for me recently. Part of me wondered if once Sam could drive, would Abby realize she didn’t really have further use for a private driver. It was already such a weird thing to have in this town.

Hell, any town.

Sam was only a little over a year away from learning how to drive. When he could get himself places and Abby had less going on it really would be a weird existence living in her basement doing nearly nothing all the time. In this moment, I was glad for the year contract we had signed. At least I had a bit longer before I would have to fully worry about this job ending. I stopped my mind from going to where I would also have to deal with not seeing Abby again if that happened.

I was just coming back from my morning run when her grandkids were being dropped off. It was the first time I had seen her oldest son. If I remembered correctly, his name was Drew. He looked a lot like his mother and Kris, or maybe I just saw her features in all the kids because I saw her face in my day to day existence more than I would ever admit.

Sam let it slip one time during our backyard soccer drills that they didn’t see his oldest brother much, hadn’t in years really. His mom and brother didn’t speak. I got the general idea that he struggled with addiction issues. Sam barely remembered him living with them except for some of the fights and bad times they had gone through. Even those were hazy in his memory. There was nearly eleven years difference in their ages and his brother had been gone from the house for many years.

He also told me he wished he knew his brother better. Seeing him and his girlfriend drop the kids off to his mom, I couldn’t help but wonder if his presence here this weekend, even briefly, was a step in that direction. I never asked Abby about him, or their lack of a relationship. It was not my business nor was it anything I needed to know. Still, curiosity left me wondering. Fractured families were something I had encountered often in my years of teaching. The collateral damage left in their wakes was often insurmountable to overcome.

Abby had the kids outside during the day yesterday and listening to her laugh with them warmed my heart. She had a great boisterous laugh when she was outside, running around, just enjoying her time with them. Her usual ponytail bouncing around as she moved. The love she had for them nearly rolled out with each moment of pure joy.

I was sitting on the couch reading. Waiting really. I knew Sam and Kris had already returned from their father’s and soon Sam would be knocking, ready to put some more work into soccer. His season was nearly over, but he insisted on working every chance we both could. I didn’t mind, at all. I really enjoyed the movement, and Sam. He was a great kid.

My phone pinged from across the small apartment. Placing my book face down on the end table, I walked over and grabbed it. The screen flashed ‘Resa’.

It had been a month since we went out for dinner that first night. The dinner that ended with me becoming reacquainted with her wolf tattoo. I had seen her, and the wolf, more than a few times since then, skipping the formality of dinner and heading right into her bed instead most nights. She was providing the perfect distraction from my boredom, and my attraction to Abby.

Resa- Coming over later?

I paused for a moment after reading the now all too familiar line. Every single time she texted me, if my hours were free, I went to her. In the beginning I nearly ran to her.

When this started, she made me feel alive again. The way her lips felt, and her hands moved, the pleasure she spread throughout my body, washed away the pain from losing Liv. Being discarded by her. Resa’s touch was not usually gentle, but she could set my body on fire easily.

Now, only twenty-eight days later, I hesitated to respond.

Hesitated because my thoughts so often went to another place. To another person. Despite things having been slightly weird with Abby over the last few weeks, I could barely get her off my mind. On the surface, nothing had really changed. I drove her to appointments. To lunch with Jan and to soccer games. We were still running together every few days, but the words exchanged between us were few and güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri far between. She now kept up with me without me modifying any part of our runs. Was even up for more challenging circuits. But the vibe was different. It was like a wind blew in and stole the friendship that had started to develop between us.

I no longer sat with her on that fleece blanket at Sam’s games. Instead, I was back standing in front of the car watching him play. The work he put in with me was showing, his skills had greatly improved. He had scored in every game they had played in the last two weeks. For some reason though, I ached to feel Abby’s hand grab mine with excitement like she had that first time he scored. My mind wandered back to that simple moment often.

That wasn’t something that seemed like it could or would ever happen again. So exactly why did my mind keep going back there? Back to the way that simple touch had sent sparks across my skin. Back to how easy she was to be around. How much nicer she was than I ever expected.

Or how the heat from the fire feature on her deck had radiated from her and into me, the flames dancing across her face and setting my heart on fire. I had been, and still was, utterly incapable of telling her any of this. Instead, I ran towards a woman I knew I didn’t want.

I hadn’t caught Abby’s eyes roaming over me when we cooled down after runs either. Hadn’t gotten even a hint of the vibe that often hit me from her when we were near each other before. Before I started back with Resa. None of that stopped my own mind from going to her, more often than was close to appropriate.

Maybe all these confusing feelings I was experiencing were because this overwhelming ‘want’ was not something I had ever felt before. Not even with Liv. Certainly not with Resa. Not even as a teenager in the throes of puppy love. The combination of sparks when her skin contacted mine, and the warmth that enveloped me when we sat and talked, watched tv and laughed together, was all together new. And now, it seemed lost to me forever.

This wasn’t the lust or desire I had indeed experienced before. It was a craving to just be near her. To sit and watch tv together. Cook dinner. Go on runs and walks and just to simply exist. Sit on the deck and read, make coffee and tea, and laugh together. It was as if within Abby lived the chance for the life I had been unknowingly searching for.

I couldn’t help but feel like the opportunity was snatched out of my reach before it was ever actually there.

It was as if Abby had reconsidered the chance for us to be friends and drew a line in the sand between us so deep not even the surf could erase it. There was no way to even broach the idea that maybe there was more potential there than only friendship. I was firmly planted on the employee side of things and was doing my best to reconcile myself with that.

I needed to get it out of my mind, and Resa was the perfect distraction. My thumbs typed out a quick response. I paused for a split second before clicking send, testing my true desire to spend another evening with her. In this moment it wasn’t about Resa, it was simply about a distraction, an itch that needed to be scratched. A pang of guilt hit me as I wrote my response, but it didn’t linger.

Me- yes

My thumb was still on the send key when a three knocks could be heard on the glass of the patio door. A wide grin spread across my face. He always knocked three times now, then met me in the yard with the soccer ball. A quick glance at the clock told me it was 2 o’clock, he was right on time. Every other week he and Kris came home around noon on Sunday’s, had lunch with their mother and then right around this time Sam was ready for some soccer drills.

The next two hours were spent working on various skills. He had come so far in the weeks since I had been working with him, his new confidence with the ball was showing. His junior varsity season was on the wind down and I knew I would miss these sessions with him when it was over. A lot.

As we moved around the back yard, out of the corner of my eye, I was certain Abby was watching us from the deck a few times. Normally, I would have waved, but today I didn’t even acknowledge I saw her. Rudeness wasn’t usually my go-to, but in this instance, it was just easier to pretend I didn’t see her. Easier to not allow my mind to wander too far off the path she had chosen and into things that were not possible.

It was imperative to keep my focus on just doing my job when I was here and around her. Drive the Prius wherever Abby needed or wanted to go. Keep myself on the right side of that line in the sand. It was no longer clear to me how long I would stay working here for a variety of reasons, but at the very least I needed this for a bit longer. The contract assured me I had at least until the end of a year to weigh my options. The money was good, and it gave me more time to figure out exactly what might güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri be next on the horizon for me.

“Thanks Tasha!” Sam was racing up the deck stairs as our workout concluded. I said my own good -bye and went into the small basement apartment that came with the job. In the last few weeks, I had repainted the entire place, so the color palette reflected me, not Abby and her friend Jan. The few horizontal spaces within the open floor plan held books I cared about, a few pictures from various trips I had been on over the years and a few other life mementos.

Every keepsake from my time with Olivia was packed inside a box and stuffed in the back of my closet. Those were memories I was trying not to linger on, yet I wasn’t ready to fully let go of those years.

My hand traced over the frame that held the last picture of my dad and me. It was taken at the nursing home a week before he passed. A few other pictures of us dotted the space. Us at the Grand Canyon when I was sixteen. Him and I at my college graduation. It wasn’t long after I got my masters that he went into the nursing home. Alzheimer’s was a horrible way to live and die.

Above me, I could hear the movements of Abby and her kids, probably getting ready for dinner. A slow sigh escaped, then I pulled myself together. They weren’t my family, that wasn’t why I was here. I found something to make myself for a quick dinner, because there was zero chance Resa was going to give an actual meal a thought. She only had one thing on her mind from the moment I knocked on her apartment door and it wasn’t food.

An hour later I was fed, showered, dressed and ready to leave. I shot off one last text to Abby to be sure she still didn’t need me or the car. A little bit of me wished she would tell me that yes plans had changed, and she needed me.

Abby- nothing has changed. Have a good night.

Her texted reply seemed to hang in the air around me. What had I been expecting? That in the hours since I had last spoken to her she would have done a 180 degree turn and decided to profess her love to me? Tell me not to leave to come, to come watch tv with her and her kids?

Get your shit together Tasha.

I pocketed my phone after reading Abby’s short reply then made my way out to the little blue Prius. There was still a slight hint of the vanilla scent that lingered in the air anywhere Abby had been. Another sigh left my lips as I backed out and started making my way to Resa’s.

*

Two hours later, I was lying in Resa’s bed. Round one done. She was asleep, the strap on still belted to her waist. I moved out of the reach of her arms when her eyes closed and was now perched precariously close to the edge of the bed.

On the edge seemed appropriate for how I was feeling as I lay there. My eyes traveled around the same apartment she had lived in for as long as I had known her. I knew every wall, every tile, every corner. It barely looked like any time had passed since those days. Resa wasn’t one for updating her surroundings.

My mind slowly crept to a dark place of wondering how many others had been in this bed during the years we hadn’t been in each other’s lives. Slowly I shook myself from that thought process, no good would come from that line of thinking.

The air was heavy with the smell of sex and it clung to my skin in a way that was making me uncomfortable. This was another new feeling. Resa had always been commanding and powerful in bed. That wolf tattoo was very fitting for who she was in most aspects of her life. Our few years together when we were younger had been exciting, possibly the most exciting relationship I had ever had. There was something about that time in my life that needed someone like her.

But now. Now I was inching ever closer to forty years old and that excitement wasn’t something I craved. Instead, I found myself wanting some mundane peace in my day to day life. The type that I hadn’t had even with Liv.

Watching Resa’s chest move up and down with each breath she took, I knew for sure this was not where I needed nor wanted to be. That this season of fun with her must come to an end. I needed to go back to moving forward in my life, not taking steps backwards.

Slowly, I slinked out of the bed, careful not to disturb her. My clothes were scattered between the bed and the front door. Each article found and put back on, I crept out the door, closing it gently behind me. I couldn’t be sure, but I thought I heard my name whispered low as the door clicked closed. There was the briefest of pauses in my movement before I continued my way out of the building.

Back in the Prius, I pointed it towards Abby’s house, my apartment and started driving back. Most of the drive across town was spent debating with myself about Resa. Was this really what I wanted? To walk away. To have no outlet and nothing filling up the empty hours in my life again.

When I pulled into Abby’s driveway, güvenilir bahis şirketleri the decision had been made that no matter what came next for me, I wouldn’t be seeing Resa again. That the road she was on was not the one I belonged on any longer.

Turning the car off, my eyes wandered up to the picture window on the front of the house. I thought I saw movement, but decided it was just me wanting something I couldn’t have so much, that I was seeing things. As I sat there, another set of headlights entered the driveway. It only took a moment to realize it was Kris.

She parked directly in my path to the basement apartment. There was no way to rush out and get to my door without her being aware I was trying to do exactly that, so I forced myself to move normally. Feet planted firmly on the asphalt, I said hello to her, then started walking.

“Hey Tasha. How was your night?” She had never looked so intently at me before, had rarely spoken directly to me. It caused me to pause my forward momentum. Usually I got a look, one that told me she didn’t much care for me or my presence in her life. She was neutral with me the night we celebrated Sam’s first high school goal and aside from that and a few encounters in passing, I hadn’t really had much to do with her.

“Hello Kris. My night was fine. Yours?” The likelihood of ever winning her over was slim, but it was imperative I was polite, even friendly.

“Oh, you know, the usual. Dumb teenagers doing dumb things.” She laughed, and that laugh sounded identical to her mother’s. I couldn’t stop the grin that spread across my face.

I chuckled. “Ah, so nothing has changed since I was a teenager.” I regretted saying that immediately. It had been my experience that most teenagers didn’t like to be reminded that adults were once their age. Maybe they didn’t like to think about the fact they too would one day be ‘old’.

“Nope. Not at all. Boys! So useless most of the time. Am I right or am I right?” She was shaking her head now. “I mean, come on, do they even think?”

“Some of them do, but it tends to take a few more years of maturing to get there.”

“At least you don’t have to deal with that.” Her eyes, which looked so much like her mother’s, were nearly piercing me. We stood there in a small staring contest before she spoke again. “Do you?”

Ah, so this was her way of confirming what I was sure she had suspected since we met that first time. A small grin tugged at my lips. “No, I do not Kris.” There was no need to pretend I didn’t know what she was fishing for. I didn’t hide my sexuality.

She was standing there, a look on her face like she was trying to figure out how to put the words she wanted to say next in the right order. I stood there waiting because I knew there was more information she wanted, and I was sure of what that was.

“Maybe someday you can introduce your girlfriend to us Tasha.”

Well, she was on a recon mission tonight. I inhaled, careful not to show her that I was even slightly stumbling over my answer, then replied with a very matter of fact tone in my voice, “I don’t currently have a girlfriend Kris.” Even if I hadn’t decided not to see Resa again, I would not have ever referred to her as my girlfriend. Instantly I wished I hadn’t given her exactly what she wanted. I didn’t owe her any insight on my personal life. Yet somehow, I felt compelled to answer her questions.

Her eyes had not moved even slightly, and she snickered an ‘ah’ which felt laced with meaning I couldn’t decipher. I wasn’t sure exactly how to respond to her. She had gotten the information she wanted, so really there was nothing left to say anyways. I said goodnight and walked towards the apartment.

I heard her shout, “Night Tasha!” as I walked down the little hill to my door.

Inside, I showered off the last remnants of Resa, an air of confusion surrounding me as I did, then crawled into bed. My mind raced with why Kris was fishing for information now. I had been here for months, so why was it important for her to confirm that I was gay now? Was that what she was doing? Or was she just making sure I knew she knew I was gay? Or was it more about if I was seeing someone?

I was still attempting to answer this question when sleep finally found me.

*

ABBY

The day had gotten away from me with the kids home. As always, Sam ran right to Tasha after we ate lunch. He lived for his time working on soccer drills with her. While they were outside, I sat on the deck with a cup of tea, writing. Well, I was trying to write, but my focus was not on the words on the screen. Every time I heard her laugh or talk to Sam, I was pulled away from the story I was trying to stitch together, just to try and catch more of her. I kept myself deeply seated at the table, resisting the urge to stand up and watch them. Watch her. It was only when Kris came outside and sat down with me that I was able to abolish Tasha from my thoughts. At least for right then.

Before she sat down, Kris watched them for a few minutes. “I hate to admit it, but the little brat has gotten better since she moved in. Jett said he thinks Sam will make varsity next year.” She plunked herself down next to me in the seat Tasha used to sit in. Small pangs of guilt and regret washed over me.

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