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Author’s Note: Sorry to keep you waiting but one can never rush a good thing. As you know, this is chapter three in my Wound in Time series. The story contains mainly F/F action as well as a plot. It’s a lengthy piece that will most likely satisfy your search for instant gratification. You should check out the first two if you want extra goods on the characters. That said, read on and hopefully, enjoy the story. Please don’t forget to vote and I would appreciate your comments.

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

It’s been four months since Adrian and Bellinda started working together. They’d finished most of the schematics and were just tweaking the design and templates for maximum style and practicality. They were also spending more and more time together.

Bellinda found herself struggling with the current state of affairs between her and Mavin. She was glad that Mavin had been honest with her but she was starting to feel uncomfortable with the thought of Mavin being unfaithful. Sure, she knew Mavin didn’t view them as a couple neither did Mavin do anything to blatantly disrespect her. In fact they haven’t had any real arguments so far and the distance Mavin seemed to keep between them was for the betterment of the relationship, or whatever it was.

Bellinda however, wanted to do away with the distance. She wanted something more, something she felt Mavin could not only give her but was withholding. That notion made her angry. Angry enough to not realize her hand was perched too close to the hot pot. She made a sudden movement, the kind fate prods one to make at the most inopportune moments.

Jack Ross was reading the evening paper and relaxing behind his pipe when he heard the only thing short of a political debate that could make his heart race; his only daughter’s shriek. And of course, the loud clanging, sizzling sound that accompanied it. He almost swallowed his pipe whole as he lunged forward and out of his recliner. He raced through his den, jumping over furniture and into the kitchen with prayers on his lips.

“Pumpkin?” Jack burst through the kitchen breathless.

“I’m fine dad.” Bellinda winced and clutched her right hand.

“What happened?” Jack examined the steaming spill of food on the marble floor and the robust pressure-cooker rolling nearby sans lid.

“It’s nothing, just a mild burn.” Bellinda resisted.

“Present your hand.” Jack said firmly.

Bellinda obliged and allowed her father to see the stinging burn on the back of her hand. It wasn’t that bad actually. She was developing a small, dime-sized blister from her brief but effective kiss with the pot. She watched her father’s face as he examined her injury. Jack Ross was a tall man despite his Irish roots. With dark hair, dark eyes and a square face, he was a handsome fellow. Seeing her father in this light, with the steam enveloping them both, reminded her of her mother.

She couldn’t really remember the woman whose photos lined just about every surface in her father’s house. But the feelings were there and they were real and she didn’t know what to do with them. She could feel the tears welling up in her eyes even though she didn’t call for them. They were there and just as real as her feelings.

“…dressed.” Her father’s brogue cut through her haze.

“Say what?” Bellinda asked foolishly, well at least that’s what Jack Ross thought as he eyed the young woman.

“I’m taking you to the clinic to get this cleaned and dressed.”

“No Papa, no way.” Bellinda pulled her hand from him.

“Well do you want it to get infected then?” Jack looked around. So much for Sunday dinner.

“I’m alright dad, seriously.”

Jack knew there was no point to continuing the argument. It would teeter back and forth on the ‘My way or the highway’ fence and then would explode whenever he said the magic word. Which would happen to be the wrong thing. Which would be wrong because Bellinda decided it was. Jack sighed and left the room without a word. Things were already teetering and it was best to leave them be.

Bellinda watched her father go. This was another weird relationship she had to deal with in her life. She wondered if she had a sign reading ‘weird’, that was only visible to others, stamped on her somewhere. She turned to the sink and ran some cold water over the blister to stop the formation. It was bad enough that connective tissues in her flesh had just been broken but there were many other things in her life that was broken. Her heart was one.

She shut off the faucet and went back to the meal she was preparing. It was a monthly ritual that evolved from a weekly one. She’d been too busy lately to care and her father was indifferent. As usual, this was her uncle’s doing. When he wanted them all together, he announced he was coming for dinner and Jack would relent out of guilt and gratitude, while Bellinda did out of love.

Bellinda didn’t always cook for this monthly ritual. But today, she wanted to do something to get her mind off everything else. At the moment however, it wasn’t casino oyna working. She’d just burned herself thinking about all of it and now would most likely have a scar to remind her of the emotional summit for the rest of her life. She might as well have gotten a tattoo.

Bellinda sighed deeply for the millionth time. She wasn’t enjoying the cooking process and thanks to a certain group of people, she would have to start all over again. She didn’t feel like starting anything over and decided to shoot it all to hell.

“Fuck!” Bellinda muttered under her breath as she emptied contents of another pot into the trash can. She grabbed a mop and wiped up the previous mess and also dumped the mop in the trash. She tore a few sheets of paper towel off the gigantic roll sitting on the counter top and soaked up some other spills. Everything went to the trash.

She picked up her cell from the charger and pushed a speed-dial button. After about three or four complimentary rings, the line is picked up.

“Hello, welcome to Domino’s Pizza, how may I help you?”

**********

Mavin sat in a local bistro, not far from the lab. She was taking an extended day break to clear her head. She’d just gotten through the whirlwind activity of training her newest employees and decided she deserved a Sunday treat. She was now officially in charge of the New York branch of Lecter Corporation. All her days during the past month had been flooded with board meetings, staff meeting, regular meetings and more meetings. She didn’t really mind the extra workload. It was some of the people involved that bothered her.

She ordered another sirloin steak and a fresh side of potatoes. She chomped through her thoughts and drowned them with cold, apple juice. The people bugged her. Not in a contemptuous way, but in a way that just made her feel uncomfortable. Mavin chalked it up as her nerves and went back to her meal.

Her mind however, was relentless. She’d been sucked into the Oblivion3 investigation and saw a lot more of Susan Turner than she’d have preferred. Mavin told José about the situation and how ridiculous she found it to be. She had a feeling A.J. Morris had something to do with it, but she couldn’t prove that. José felt his former partners were up to something and advised Mavin to be careful.

Mavin sawed through her meal with speed that echoed her hunger. She’d started working out again. She trained like she was on call for the Olympics. She wanted to get her mind off things for a while. She could take a vacation, no one would question her. But she didn’t really want one. She wolfed down the small meal, the fourth of six for the day. She was mopping the last bits of steak sauce off the plate when she sensed someone behind her. She figured it was the waiter.

“Ya wan a protein shake wit dat, mon?” The voice came from behind her but Mavin continued the chore of fueling her body.

“Me undastan if ya no wan speak,” The person moved into Mavin’s line of vision. “Champion.”

Mavin swallowed the morsel and looked straight into the pair of dark, sun-beaten eyes of an old friend. “Jasmine.”

***********

“Dinner’s good. One large, one-topping pizza with chicken.”

“Don’t tease me Papa.”

“Oh I’m not teasing. Just complimenting on your fine culinary skills.”

“Okay, now drop it. Please?”

Dinner was off to a nice start at the Ross’. José enjoyed watching Bellinda and her father bicker about the little things. They loved each other, they just didn’t like to admit it too often.

Bellinda shuffled in her seat and enjoyed the silence for a while until an urge to break it overwhelmed her.

“Uncle, Mavin told me about the deal with Lecter Corp.,” Bellinda began ignoring her dad for a moment “how’s it going?”

“Well, it’s official now. And you two?”

“I don’t know about that.”

“That makes two of us.” Jack jumped in, eager to be part of the discussion.

“It’s a love story.” José pipped.

“Really, my daughter? In love?”

Bellinda wanted to kick herself for bringing Mavin up. What the hell was she thinking? She didn’t feel like explaining anything but for some reason she just had to open her mouth.

“I’m not sure I can go that far just yet, Papa.”

“Come on, Bella. Mavin’s loco about you.” José wiggled his eyebrows and grinned.

Bellinda felt a foot next to hers and stomped it.

“Ouch! What the hell was that for?!” Jack bellowed as he jerked his leg up and banged his knee on the underside of the dinner table, causing everything to do a quarter-inch jump. It was after all, a heavy table.

“Ay Papi, I’m sorry.” Bellinda sighed as her face turned red. José now decided it was best to shut up but only because he was choking on pizza from laughing so hard.

“Maybe next time you should look before you stomp. Almost crushed my toe.”

“You’re lucky she wasn’t wearing heels.” José chuckled with tears in his eyes.

“Damn, that hurt! Why are you so upset today, Bellinda?”

“You know what? I canlı casino really don’t know. May I be excused?” Bellinda got up without an answer and gathered her things from the hall closet.

“Don’t tell me you’re leaving.” José said with a ghost of a smile shimmering on his face.

“Sorry guys, I have work to do and I need to turn in early. You can talk politics.” Bellinda went back to give José and her father kisses on the cheek. “So sorry about your toe, Papa.”

“Drive safe, pumpkin.” Jack called out Bellinda as she left the dinning room and then the house. “She’s just like her mother.”

José nodded in agreement. “About that bill -”

“Let’s talk about it over some heartburn pills and foreign cigars.” Jack said as he made his way out of the room with José laughing heartily as the previous events incited his cheer.

**********

“Me peep ya roun’ town wit dat stoosh gal. Dem fram Uppa East Side eh?” Jasmine spoke in a Jamaican accent. She did so in public when she wasn’t working. She’d joined Mavin’s table and was just about to order a meal.

“What’s it to you?” Mavin wondered if everyone in town knew about Bellinda.

“Nutten. Jus’ wan know, mon. Me dun open up shop inna Village.”

“That’s great Jas. You moved on up.” Mavin nodded approvingly.

“Fuck yeah! Me nuh need to work fa nobady, it be mi spot now. De Sugga Shack.” Jasmine said and pounded her fists on the table. The waitress arrived and Jasmine just pointed to Mavin’s plate and signaled with a wink and a smile that that’s what she wanted.

“Hahaha, I know how much you hated your last job. What you up to out here?” Mavin smiled and eyed her watch. She was busy as hell but she didn’t mind seeing her old friend either.

“Looking fa you.”

“Me? Why?” Mavin’s brows jumped on her forehead.

“Come now, Mavin. We pallies. Me gat a bash Friday night.” Jasmine hoisted the pitcher of juice and grabbed a nearby tumbler.

“Oh, aight. I thought you were stalking me or shit.”

“Man, quit ya batty crap. Ya gon’ be deh ar wat?” Jas said after emptying half of the pitcher.

“What’s in it for me?”

“Fun, bad shorties and mo’ fun, bad shorties. Me nuh ya fit tan pon it lang.” Jas laughed and watched as her food arrived.

Mavin chuckled as well. They hadn’t seen each other in more than five years and here they were actin’ a fool in public like it was only yesterday. Talking about girls, sex and Mavin’s stamina.

“So wat ya say?” Jasmine said as she dug into her steak.

“Give me your number and I’ll call to let you know.”

“Bumboclot! Ya nuh fit change, Mavin.” Jas shook her head, waving her colorful braids around.

“I know Jas, it’s why you love me.” Mavin grinned at her loud friend.

“True. All ripe, me a leggo mi numba.” Jas picked a card out of her wallet and handed it to Mavin.

“It’s all good. I’ll catch you later.” Mavin rose from her seat and grabbed her coat.

“Mo’ time!” Jas said by way of saying ‘goodbye’.

“Mos def.” Mavin grinned and gave Jas a half-hug.

*********

Bellinda sat on her couch nursing a conversation with Adam about his new boyfriend and their shared interest in art. She was hardly listening as her mind raced back and forth, contemplating everything. She hadn’t seen Mavin in almost a month. But neither of them could be blamed for that. After all, they were both hellishly preoccupied. Bellinda sighed and shook her head.

“You don’t think his mother will like me?” Adam gasped.

Bellinda didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. She looked at him with a puzzled expression.

“Maybe I should just go with the preppy outfit, like the Menendez brothers.” Adam said as he munched on trail mix.

“Huh, what?”

“Haven’t you been paying attention for the last fifteen minutes? I’m having a nervous breakdown.”

“Wow, it must be contagious.” Bellinda said, her tone dripping with sarcasm.

“Okay Bee, you lost me.” Adam said, feeling offended.

“Sorry Adam, I’m just not in top shape.”

“Well you could have said something before I babbled my whole life.”

“I’m just stressed and I can’t talk about it with you, not now.”

“Ah girl trouble. Do you want me to call Joann?”

“No, I think she’s with Chad or Andy or something.”

“Which reminds me. Jason Pryce sends his gratitude for the beautiful painting you sold him. You remember him?”

“Yeah, your corporate man-slut.”

“That he is.” Adam grinned. “He’s also a very rich albeit, closeted guy.”

“I dunno why you do that to yourself. Guys like him always have issues.”

“He’s different. We’re going to see his mother next weekend.” Adam said with glee.

“Well, I won’t even say anything about that. Let me know how it goes.”

“Goes without asking, sugar-tits.” Adam said and earned himself a soft pillow smack upside his head. He grabbed a pillow nearby and swung it in Bellinda’s direction. She ducked and hit him with a pillow uppercut. He stumbled back and tripped over kaçak casino the two-seater, ending up on the floor behind it.

Bellinda went over and dropped her pillow on his body as she did her victory dance. She was caught by surprise when Adam lurched out of his fetal position and tackled her. He pulled her down and they began a tickle fest. Luckily for Adam he wasn’t too ticklish but Bellinda was. Adam tickled and Bellinda shrieked between giggles. When he was sure she was out of breath, he stopped, kissed her forehead and retreated to the sofa for more trail mix. Bellinda lay behind the chair, breathing and laughing and eventually crying.

“Bellinda?” Adam called out as he scrambled back to where the redhead lay. He found her racked by sobs. His knees gave way as he wrapped his arms around her and tried to comfort her.

*********

It was just a little after eight but the winter solstice made it seem like midnight. Mavin had one more meal to go before her day was over but was considering a skip. With Christmas coming up a mere two weeks away, she had to get as much work as possible done before the break.

Mavin made her way into her apartment and saw her answering machine blinking like it would explode if it didn’t deliver its message. Mavin ignored it for now and got herself settled in. She headed for the shower and rinsed herself quickly. She would be sweating again soon but that didn’t matter.

After washing the day’s work off she went and made a few notes on her calendar for the next week. She scribbled a reminder about Jasmine’s party for Friday as well as some other important meeting with her new partners. She looked in the direction of her answering machine and decided to hear the messages. She pushed the red button and was informed that she had three new messages. Mavin was mildly surprised mostly because not that many people had her home number.

“Hey Doc. You know who it is. Just calling to check on you. I know you’re not going anywhere for the holidays. Hit me back, I have something in mind.” Mavin smiled at her brother’s voice and scrolled to the next message.

“Hey baby, how you doin’? It’s Eva, like you didn’t know. Listen, I’m heading to Hotlanta for a few days but I’ll be in New York for Christmas. Maybe earlier cuz I don’t feel like blowing my savings on Kevin an’em. So I’ma bounce before the Eve. Hey, you remember that girl from way back when? You know, the ghetto broad that wanted to have your kids? What was her name again? Was it Sheryl or Shanique? Well anyway, she called me and boy I don’t know how she got my digits but she’s looking for you. She left a crazy message talking about how she needs you and hasn’t felt anything like you and all that shit. I mean, she was going all out, with details and e’rything.

“Can you please explain to me how you hook up with these bitches and they have MY number? It’s amazing. She’s called about twice before but the last times she ain’t leave a long-ass message. This time she just kept going and going. You know what? I’ma save it and bring it for you just so you can hear it yourself. I happen to think it’s funny as hell but that’s me. Ya know, if you weren’t so secretive may-” Mavin couldn’t help but laugh as the time limit she set to her machine kicked in and cut Eva off. She wiped the tears of mirth from her eyes and scrolled to the last message.

“Yo Mavin, your machine is fucking trippin’. Just cut me off in the middle of my speech. I see you rolling your eyes. Just wait ’til I get there, ooh! I’m fo’ real Mavin. If you weren’t so selective about who contacts you, I wouldn’t be here listening to how good you are in bed. Bitch got me over here, comparing details and shit. Driving me crazy. Anyway, I have things to do. Call me.”

Mavin shook her head and decided to return the calls first thing tomorrow. She wasn’t in the mood to yak anyway. She settled into her recliner and ran her plans for the month back and forth through her head. She was calculating ways to get the most done in the shortest amount of time; A bunch of meetings, four new assignments, family get-togethers, a party, a possible stalker and the situation or lack thereof with a certain redhead.

Mavin didn’t want to admit any feelings for Bellinda. Not that she couldn’t have them but she just didn’t feel like the time was right for them. There was no doubt that she enjoyed the latina’s company but the stressful holiday season always hit like a ton of bricks. Nevertheless, Mavin didn’t like the idea of adding a guilt trip to her schedule so she picked up the phone and called Bellinda.

*********

Bellinda was sprawled on her bed with Adam precariously perched on the edge as he refused to leave his friend in her current state. Bellinda tried to assure him that she was just a bit overworked but her red eyes and puffy lids didn’t help to convince him. She didn’t mind him staying except now, her head was pounding something fierce.

“Hey Agua Lad, can I have….aspirin?” Bellinda croaked through the lump in her throat.

“Sure, just stay put I’ll be right back.” Adam went into the bathroom to get the stuff. He was just on his way to get a glass of water when he heard Bellinda’s phone ringing. He continued when he heard her answering it.

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