Groovin’ on Thievin’

It sure as hell seems an eternity since I’ve been able to swipe anything, huh? I forgot the rush of creeping to the author’s spot and stealing away, chapter in hand.

While the following stolen property is not our preferred LAC, it’s still a piece of the bridge that will get to that.

From Squatter 2…

Chapter 1

Ready to seize, large, thick fingers neared her face. She struggled to dodge their blurry path, but she couldn’t move. Something held her in place—something that twisted the skin at her wrists and made them sting.

“No!” she screamed, elongating the word that was at first loud, then muffled, then completely muted. She gasped for air, but there was none to be had. Her cheeks pushed hard against her teeth as she tried again and again and again.

“Trinity!” she heard her named called as though from very far away. “Breathe, Trinity! Damn it, breathe!”

I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!

“Trinity MacNeil, wake the hell up and breathe!”

Feeling herself being shaken, she gasped once more, and this time, she felt cool air invade her lungs. Inhaling deeply, she opened her eyes to see Maisie hovering over her in the dark bedroom.

“Jesus, Trinity, are you okay?”

“Just a dream,” she answered, swilling the air and feeling as though her heart tried to beat a hole in her chest to escape. “I’m okay,” she affirmed, more for herself than Maisie.

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.” She was not about to tell her this was a recurring nightmare. She’d ask for specifics, and Trinity didn’t want to look closely enough at it to get them. It wasn’t as though there was a person in danger and needing her help. You could only be murdered once; therefore, it was the past, not the sensing of something current, and since she had never had premonitions, it wasn’t the future, either. Above all else, she did not want to be sensing things about other people. More than a year had passed since the whole ordeal of seeing someone in the playroom window led her to communicate with her deceased Aunt Ronnie and a spirit guide named Richard. Since then, she had done whatever necessary to keep her clairsentience suppressed, her psychic antenna down. “It was just a stupid dream.” Regardless, she clutched her jade moon necklace, which, she had been told, provided her with psychic protection. “Just a stupid dream.”

“About what?” Maisie asked and held her hand lightly to Trinity’s cheek. “Why couldn’t you breathe? Tell me what happened.”

“No,” she said. “Just let it fade.” She noticed her heartbeat had slowed, and her breaths were now unlike those of someone dying. She clutched Maisie’s upper arms. “Lay back down,” she ordered. “Go back to sleep.”

She half-obliged. Now on her back, she reached for Trinity’s arm and tugged. “Come here. Let me hold you.”

Wanting just that, she rolled and placed her head on her upper chest, her bare breast cushioning her chin. She pulled the blankets over them, her sweaty skin now cold, and then, her hand hurried to the soft, warm skin of Maisie’s belly. She felt safe there, very safe, and she willed herself to relax.

They lay there is silence for a long while, and Trinity could almost hear Maisie’s brain churning with thoughts. She hoped they were simply about the day ahead: her shift at her family’s hardware store, what she’d have for lunch, maybe the need to put gas in her car. Anything but what had just happened. She knew if Maisie asked the right questions, she’d have no choice but to answer. Minimizing was one thing; outright lying was another. Perhaps if she lay completely still, Maisie would think she had fallen back asleep and do the same.

Some twenty minutes later, Maisie held her a bit tighter and then quietly asked, “Are you having nightmares about my moving in?”

The unexpectedness of such a question made her laugh. “Should I be?”

“Uh, I don’t think so.”

“Are you having nightmares about it?”

She grabbed her forearm. “I am kind of scared,” she admitted, “but nothing close to nightmares.”

After hoisting herself up, she tilted her head to look at her. “What scares you?” She gently brushed the hair off her face. 

“Nothing specific, really. It’s just a big change—for the both of us. I don’t want our adjustment to it to cause problems between us.”

“It won’t,” she reflexively said but immediately realized how dismissive of Maisie’s feelings she must have sounded. “We just have to promise to keep talking, is all. Even when we don’t want to.” As soon as those words left her mouth, she felt guilty for having just withheld something from her. But keeping the lines of communication open certainly didn’t mean you had to tell the other person absolutely everything, did it? Maisie kept things to herself; Trinity knew that for certain. The closer they got, the more in tune they became, so much so that Trinity could easily sense when something was not right with Maisie—even when she was across town. She always asked whether something was bothering her, and she accepted whatever answer she received. She wasn’t trying to sense anything about her; it was simply a consequence of being that close to someone, and she vowed she’d never allow her clairsentience to make Maisie feel invaded.

She kissed Maisie’s shoulder. “We’ll be okay,” she assured. “We’ll do whatever we have to do to make this work.”

“We will. I will.” She grabbed onto her. “I really want this to last.”

“Then, relax. Just enjoy it.” She laughed. “And think about how cool it will be to wake up together like this every morning.” After a melodramatic glance around the room, she added, “Except not in here.”

“I like it in here, but a whole new master suite will be awesome.”

“Speaking of which…” She craned her head to see the clock radio on the nightstand: 5:37. “Uncle Gene will be here in a few hours.” Looking at her, she asked, “Will you go over the room again with me before you go to work? I want to make sure I can tell him exactly how we want it.”

She pulled her onto her. “We go in there every single time I come over, Trinity.” She laughed. “You know how we want it. So does he. You’ve told him a hundred times. Besides, I’m most interested in whether there really is a fireplace behind that wall. If there is, then its twin has to be in the study downstairs. How cool would that be to end up with two more fireplaces?”

“We already have two,” she replied with a laugh. “Some environmental group will be picketing out front saying we’re responsible for killing an entire forest just to keep them all going.”

“Har. Har. We wouldn’t keep them all going at once. We won’t even be using the one in here anymore. Just the one I’m praying has to be in the master suite, and the study, oh, and occasionally in the living room.”

“Oh gee, only three.”

She squeezed Trinity’s sides to receive a squeal. “I like falling asleep with you by firelight.”

Laughing, she returned the tickle. “And exactly how many times have we actually lay here and watched the fire? Seems to me we always end up getting sidetracked.”

Suddenly, she shot straight up, nearly bowling Trinity over. “Whoa! You’re right. That means after I move in, we’ll be making love every single day of the year!”

She pushed her back down. “I would not doubt it. You are very feisty for someone who a year ago didn’t even know how to kiss me.”

“I’d prove to you how much I’ve learned, but I really need to brush my teeth. Or, now that we’re going to be living together, do we just let everything go, dispense with the manners and spew morning breath all over each other?”

“Oh, could we, please?”

“Speaking of breathing…” Narrowing her eyes at her, she asked, “You’re sure you’re okay? Do you want to talk about the dream you had?”

“Not in the least,” she replied, plopping onto the bed next to Maisie. “This is going to be a good day. Nothing yucky allowed.”

“Including morning breath.” She sat up, saying, “I’ll get your coffee going and brush my teeth while I wait for it. You stretch out and enjoy the quiet. It’s the only bit of it you’ll have all day.”

Indeed, the house would be invaded by Uncle Gene, his construction crew, power tools, and a variety of hammers. The noisy invasion she dreaded, but more than anything, she was excited. It took Maisie’s plan to move in for Trinity to finally accept Uncle Gene’s offer to renovate the upstairs—well, at least the master bedroom and its bathroom and sunporch. Her cousin Luke’s room had already been painted, and his redecorated playroom now served as Trinity’s office where she did some freelance research via the Internet.

Maisie slipped a T-shirt over her head and aimed for the door. “I’ll be back in a few,” she said before disappearing into the hall.

She slid back under the covers and listened to the creaks that accompanied Maisie down the stairs. She liked having her in the house, and the prospect of having her there every day. In many ways, she felt as though she completed her, made her whole. As trite as she knew that sounded, it described it quite well. Her entire life seemed as though it was finally coming together, and on her terms: on the world’s outskirts. Yet, she knew not to take it all for granted. Life could force a breakneck turn anytime it felt like it.

Maisie returned carrying a cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice. As she handed the cup to her, Trinity teased, “I assume your bringing me coffee in bed every morning will be happening every single day of the year, too.”

“Speaking of which…”

“What is this, a ‘speaking of which’ morning?” She patted the bed. “Come sit, and tell me ‘speaking of which’ what.”

She sat and took a swig of her orange juice. After setting the glass on the nightstand, she turned to her. “Trinity, am I too feisty? You want me to tone it down?”

She leaned to kiss her but stopped. “No, I don’t,” she answered, “but hold that thought.” After bolting out of bed, she ran naked to the bathroom as fast as she could. She brushed her teeth and raced back to bed.

Maisie leaned against the headboard and lifted the covers for Trinity to dive under.

“Brrr,” she sounded. “It’s hard to believe it’s almost July. Feels more like April.” When she stopped shivering, she propped herself up next to Maisie and said, “To properly answer your question… No, you are not too feisty. I’ve never made love with you when I didn’t want to be there. I’ve never simply shown you mercy.”

“But, it exhausts you. If I’m here more— Hell, if I’m here every day— Or, maybe it’s just that whole ‘abstinence makes the heart grow fonder’ thing that’s been going on, and we’ll just slow down all on our own. You think? Because you can’t be running around exhausted all the time.”

“It’s exhausting only because it’s more emotional than physical. Or, both times two, I guess. But, I am getting better at separating yours from mine.” She took her hand and kissed it. “I just don’t think I want it to be a complete separation.”

Seriously? When the heck did you decide that?”

She shrugged. “The better I get at it, the more I don’t like it. When we’re close like that, I like feeling what you’re feeling. Is that terrible? Is that too close?”

“Not to me,” she answered, smiling and shaking her head. “I think it’s cool that you can do that. I like what I feel when I’m with you, so enjoy the ride with me, I guess. Or, not. I know you hate being clairsentient.”

“It has its perks,” she admitted, half-joking. For perhaps the hundredth time, she said, “I just wish I could use it only how I want to, but using it at all seems to turn on everything.”

“Joel said you have to master the whole thing in order to be able to pick and choose when and how you use it.”

Joel, Dr. Joel Jarvis: She would forever be grateful to him for helping her settle Aunt Ronnie’s spirit, and for occasionally checking up on her since then. He didn’t push her to master it, yet he never failed to point out the necessity of it when she struggled. It seemed so counterintuitive to her: learn to use the ability in order to not use it 99% of the time. She didn’t want to know what people were feeling. She didn’t want their feelings becoming hers. She wanted to allow in only what she chose, and namely, that meant Maisie, but she didn’t want that full-force, either. Just hints of what Maisie felt. Occasional hints. But, that meant mastering it, or so Joel said. If that were truly the case, the absolutely only way, then she wanted nothing to do with it. She arranged her life to minimize the risk of anything getting through. She had windows of time when going out into the world was safest, when people were busy elsewhere. Living in a small town helped her learn its rhythm: Avoid all establishments after mothers had just dropped off their children at school, during the lunch-hour, and all times in the evening when people were leaving work. And at home, she simply kept her mind focused: her garden, chores, reading, her part-time work. Only when she was with Maisie, did she let down her guard.

Suddenly, she realized that with Maisie being around daily, her guard would be down all the more. Maybe that was already happening. Maybe that was the reason for the recurring nightmare. She desperately hoped that was not the case, that this would not end up being the adjustment that caused them problems as Maisie feared. There had to be a way to control her clairsentience without being foolish enough to want to master it. “Master it, or be a victim of it,” Joel said. There had to be another way.