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 Twenty-Three

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Scottie Elisabeth
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PostSubject: Twenty-Three   Mon Feb 27, 2017 7:53 pm

The night remained slow and groggy, even with the two most important people in the world at my side. The minutes passed like hours as we smoked and sighed and tried to make sense of a situation we didn’t understand.

Finally, Lily’s phone broke the monotony, and I watched as her face grew troubled between her curt responses. Eventually she snapped her aging cell phone closed. “I have to go,” she hurried, retrieving her coat from where she had long abandoned it on the floor next to her.

“Who was that?” I challenged as I shifted on the couch, frustrated when Miriam’s hand landed on my arm to keep me seated.

“I know people other than you, asshole,” she growled as she stood, her demeanor entirely changed from only moments before.

I felt my lips curl into a snarl. We didn’t have time for this and after Lily’s ‘acting’ at Stewart’s, I couldn’t be sure which side she was really on. “Yeah, and I’m asking who the fuck it was.”

“Collin,” Miriam chastised and I was furious at her for it. Who was she to dictate my behavior? “Will you be safe, Lily?” she asked too kindly. I rolled my eyes. What garbage.

“Yeah.”

As she unlocked the door, I pulled from Miriam to stand. “Lily, who was that?”

“Oh, fuck off.” She slammed the door behind her and I was both confused and annoyed at our tone shift.

“Collin,” Miriam complained and it took everything in me not to immediately turn on her. Instead, I locked the door. When I returned to my darling succubus, my anger was gone, instead replaced with distrust for my lycanthrope friend.

“She was weird at the apartment,” I shared without prompting. “She definitely knows more than we do.”

“Oh, Collin. Don’t do that.” Miriam’s hand returned to its gentle hold on my arm, and despite the situation, my stress was shrugged with my anger. Though distrust remained, it seemed such a foreign problem now, worlds away when I was in Miriam’s grasp.

Before she could object, I wrapped my arms around her, more grateful for her presence than I ever had been anything. As if nothing else existed in the universe, she melted into me, and for a moment, we were engrossed in nothing but one another. Eventually, though, the distrust crept into my mind once more.

“If she wasn’t hiding something, why wouldn’t she say who called?”

Miriam sighed but didn’t pull from me. “I don’t know her well, Collin, but even I can see that she will keep a secret just to annoy you, especially if you’re trying to demand it from her.” She did pull from me then, her arms rising into a stretch as she yawned. “You’re never going to be in control of her, so I don’t know why you waste your time.”

“I don’t want to be in control of her,” I complained but was immediately met with laughter from my counterpart.

“You won’t be happy until you control everyone, Collin,” she teased as she stood, stretching to her toes. “But it’s alright. Just, don’t hold it against her. She’s just trying to rile you up.”

“Now isn’t the time.”

“I don’t disagree,” she shook her hand in her hair before making for the kitchen. “But that doesn’t mean she’s the enemy.”

“You don’t even know her,” I argued loudly once Miriam disappeared from my sight, but a seeming instant later she returned with the bottle of Black Velvet and a couple of glasses, and I wondered if my perception of time had abandoned me with my exhaustion.

“No,” she shrugged, kneeling like Sophie had, across from me at the coffee table we no longer owned. Still, Miriam sat with her legs off to the side, pouring two glasses without asking if I wanted any. “But I don’t think she’s involved. She doesn’t seem the type to ally with anyone she doesn’t like, and the way you described it, it doesn’t seem she likes that pair at all.”

Miriam passed one glass to me while simultaneously downing her own. I accepted mine as Miriam’s face contorted with disgust, her swallow more disdainful than I’d ever seen from her. A cough punctuated her contortion and finally, the glass was abandoned to the carpet, Miriam’s desperation for drink no match for her loathing of the brand.

I savored mine, though I too hated the taste. It had been so long since Sophie had been able to go out, the only liquor in the house was hers, the bottle she hadn’t been well enough to finish. Now I stared at it, half-empty as I swished the glass in my hand, watching the oddly clear liquid as it kissed the edges of the rim without spilling over. “Who drinks Black Velvet in a glass?” I half-complained in an effort to distract myself from the longing.

“Someone who forgets how fucking vile it is.”

“Shots or nothing,” I assured her before taking another slow, bitter drink. With my swallow came a momentary clarity, where the entirety of the ordeal around us appeared to me in a brief, bullet-pointed list, and in that list, a name still held uncertainty to me. “Should we looking for Charlotte?” I finally asked aloud and Miriam stiffened at the suggestion.

“Probably.”

“Or will she come to us?”

“Also probably,” she mumbled as she retrieved her glass, eager to pour another drink, the disgust leaving her as distress took hold. “I don’t know. What do we even do?”

“I don’t think there’s anything we can do about Jinn or Stewart right now,” I offered as my eyes again became engrossed in the liquid in my hand. “But maybe we can do something about the lycanthropes? Or fuck, shouldn’t someone be calling the cops?”

Miriam paused, drink in her hand but eyes on me as she contemplated my question. “What would we even say? I feel like this is well beyond the scope of police.”

“Well,” I complained as I stood, suddenly antsy. “I don’t know. I feel like we should be doing something.” As quickly as I stood, my coat was sliding onto my arms, instantly zipped and as ready as I needed it to be. “I’m going to go to the duplex. She probably isn’t there, but I don’t know what else to do. I feel shitty just sitting here.”

It was as if I only blinked before Miriam was at the door waiting for me, her own long jacket tied at her waist. My eyes struggled with their tired stinging but didn’t distract me from my companion.

“What are you doing?” I managed as she unlocked the door.

She scoffed but proceeded with the door. “You’re not going on your own.” Miriam held the door open and the cold night air somehow made my eyes sting less.

“You can’t kill her.”

“We’ll see,” she shrugged, no longer waiting for me before slipping through the open doorway. “Are you coming?”


The air was brisk and our step quick as our boots matched their clicks on the sidewalk. We seemed to complement each other, my left step with hers, and vice versa, until I swallowed, realizing I was staring at Miriam’s boots rather than watching where I was going.

“Why the change of heart?” her words gently prodded as I turned my attention away from her, inoffensive in the way only those words could be.

“What do you mean?”

Miriam hesitated but her step didn’t, continuing with mine as we walked as one being. She savored her words in the thoughtful way she always did, nothing like Lily’s bluntness. I would never know Miriam’s words before she said them and for that I loved her even more.

“Before,” she began thoughtfully and for her pause, I listened all the more carefully. “You were concerned with how all of this affects you, more than what was going on with anyone else. Now you know exactly how it affects you and instead of acting on that, you’re concerned with the lycanthropes.”

I’m not as selfish as you think, I thought but swallowed, knowing the words were another needless lie. “I don’t want to be the guy you painted me to be in your apartment.”

Miriam’s steps seemed to silence with her draw of breath, though they didn’t hesitate. It was as if her entire body worked at once to disappear, swallowed by the words too harsh for her current, considerate demeanor. I thought she would apologize but didn’t. Instead, silence enveloped us.

With Miriam, unlike with anyone else, I was regularly speechless and now was one of those times. I hadn’t meant to make my admission, though genuine it was, and now I didn’t know the words to recover and Miriam wouldn’t help me. Instead, we walked, remaining as one, and my love for her grew as she matched my pace effortlessly despite my advantage in height and in lack of heel.

As I eyed the next corner in the bend, trying to think of anything but her, I couldn’t. I wondered instead what might have been if I had met Miriam rather than my wife all that time ago, or if we had never gotten caught up in the coup at all. I tried to imagine a normal life with Miriam, like I had experienced with Sophie, but more. The sort I felt in Miriam’s bed, with her breath on my shoulder blades as she held me while I reached for my phone. Waking up to her, breakfast with her, lazy television on the couch with her, but I couldn’t, and the casual routine we feigned in her apartment seemed a lifetime ago, in ashes with her belongings.

The buzz of a neon sign filled my ears and I snapped back to reality, suddenly aware of the familiar, dingy bar we were passing. I took a breath before sneaking a glance through the window, but a man was behind the counter. I would have to make Lily track down the barmaid when all of this was through.

Our boots began clicking out of sync and I realized I had hesitated at the window. Miriam’s suddenly stopped and when I snapped my attention to her, she was facing me, staring at me and the bar through me. I froze, again like a child caught in the act, with her. Her eyes were pensive, words threatening to jump from her pursed lips but they remained closed. I waited for her to speak but still she didn’t, instead returning her attention to the sidewalk in front of us.

When we continued, it was again in unison, in tandem, every extension of Miriam’s long, bare legs matching my own and without asking, I wondered why she hadn’t created something longer in this chill. Perhaps she was conserving? Perhaps we had to now.

Miriam was unassuming until that infamous duplex came into view, when a slow, frustrated sigh escaped her. She paused on the corner, her eyes closed as she took a deep breath, and though I wanted to reach out for her, I didn’t, instead allowing her to compose on her own, as if I didn’t realize that was what she was trying to do.

“Okay,” she whispered her permission to herself and me once her eyes reopened and refocused on our destination. At Miriam’s go-ahead, we started again, our heels instantly one. Miriam glanced in my direction, but when I returned the look, she averted her eyes, instead eyeing the duplex ahead. “Do you think she’s home?”

I was disappointed but followed her gaze, sizing up the papered-over, leftmost window. “I hope so.”

Miriam glanced my way but only momentarily. Suddenly I felt self-conscious with my answer, as if it meant any more than what I intended.

“If she’s here,” she seemingly agreed with a nod, “at least she isn’t out there, doing god knows what to the lycanthropes.”

“Listen,” I interrupted, grabbing Miriam’s arm as I stopped on the wrong side of the street. “We’re on the same side. You and me.”

When Miriam wouldn’t look at me, I felt the need to continue. “I know she doesn’t always make it feel that way,” I eased my grip, rubbing where my fingertips had borne just instants before. “But honestly, it’s you and me against all the rest of them and I need to be sure you know that.”

Her eyes yielded to mine, uncertainty evident behind the reflections of streetlights in her irises. She raised the arm I held to trace her finger along my jaw. Yet again, she didn’t speak. Instead, her lips tightened into an apprehension that made me desperate for her approval, her touch, her anything, but her hand fell, returning to her overcoat pocket without flourish.

Though I wasn’t satisfied, I didn’t have the words to request affirmation from her. Instead, I tried to force my attention to the other side of the street, to the duplex, where I made an exception for an imaginary teen and seemingly set my role in all of this into motion. Where a son I never knew existed only in the memory of a wife I no longer recognized. Where a woman with an obsession was a prisoner to her own despair.

Miriam crossed the street without me. I was stuck, my feet melted to their spot, destined not to budge. She didn’t slow down though and I had to jog to catch her as she ascended the few porch steps.

“Mir,” I called lightly but she had already opened the screen, her fist poised to wrap on the door before I could have a say.

The knock seemed boisterous in the silence of the night. A few moments passed before Miriam stood on her toes, reaching for the doorframe above her, just within her reach. Her fingers fondled for a few moments, finally coming away with a shiny object, reflective in the darkness. A key.

She sighed with a smile, proud as she assessed the key in her hand, only then acknowledging my inquisitive glance. “Some things never change,” she shrugged, forcing the key into the lock without another thought.

“Charlotte?” I called into the doorway, eager to enter ahead of my companion. If she would see one of us, I felt I had slightly better odds. “Are you here?”

As I made my way through her home, assessing each room for signs of life, Miriam disappeared seemingly on a mission of her own. I ignored her though, instead entering the final room, Charlotte’s bedroom. As I breached my wife’s privacy, something inside me ached for her, the old her, to return and right the wrongs of current Charlotte, my anti-wife, but her tidy dresser top and neatly made bed offered me nothing.

“Collin,” Miriam called from the doorway, startling me from my hesitation. “Do you think this is something?”

In her right hand, she extended a piece of paper from a notepad—the size of my missing notepad—with an address scribbled hastily in pen. Though the address itself meant nothing to me, I recognized the street as one from the lycanthrope neighborhood. “Probably just one of her marks tonight,” I disregarded as I returned the paper to her.

“Are you serious?” she prodded defensively as I turned to size up Charlotte’s room once more, worried I’d missed something. There had to be something.

“Collin,” Miriam grabbed my arm, a sure way to latch my attention to her, lost in her touch. “It isn’t 50 addresses. It’s one. One. You really don’t want to follow this up?”

When I shrugged, she sighed.

“It was in the second drawer next to the fridge. The one she always kept important things in. It’s something, Collin, I promise you.”

As my eyes trailed the freshly vacuumed floor, I stood jealous at Charlotte’s ability to maintain a normal life, punctuated with menial chores. Further still, I stood jealous at Miriam’s insider knowledge of my wife, someone I should know more intimately than she. “And you just conveniently found it on your first look?”

Miriam’s hand dropped from me. When I turned to face her, she was gone. “Miriam,” I complained as started for the kitchen, but as I walked through the threshold, she was there, by the refrigerator, poised with her arms crossed.

“Here,” she growled, ripping the drawer out of its hole and placing it roughly on the counter. The noise made me cringe but the drawer remained intact, filled with papers and trinkets of no importance to me.

“Miriam, I didn’t mean—”

“Fuck you,” she interrupted harshly. “We both know exactly what the fuck you mean. So have a look, tell me I’m fucking wrong.”

I stood frozen in the doorway and her impatience bubbled over.

Miriam reached into the drawer, retrieving a small booklet. “Checkbook.” She tossed it onto the counter next the drawer, now retrieving a paper midway through the stack. “Her lease.” That dropped to the counter as well and Miriam resumed her angry rummaging until she came away with a photograph, larger and more recent than the polaroids she so cherished of her own. Her expression changed from anger to disappointment, elevating only to frustration as she placed the picture more gently atop the lease. “Us.” Miriam’s eyes rolled as she avoided the picture, instead returning them to me. “Her important shit. The address was on the top.”

Though I was piqued by the ‘us,’ a glance in the direction revealed it to be Miriam’s other ‘us,’ she and Charlotte rather than she and me, and further still I resented their connection. “Okay,” I assured, suppressing my own uncertainties with her in order to placate her. “You have to know how it looks, though.”

“Fuck you,” she repeated, softer than before as she again fell into disappointment. She crossed her arms, leaning back against the counter. “So it’s only ‘you and me’ when you’re the one looking suspicious?”

My hands self-consciously returned to my jacket pockets as my lips tightened. I eyed my sweet Miriam, flustered as she was, trying desperately to avoid looking at the picture that clearly troubled her. Finally, her arms dropped from their cross and she began returning the items to the drawer before easing the heavy thing from the counter to return it to its slot below.

“I’m sorry,” I assured her as the drawer closed. When that didn’t make her look up, I sighed. I couldn’t keep fracturing my connection with her. I needed her. “Mir,” I coaxed as I closed the gap between us. She stayed against the counter but didn’t resist my touch. When I wrapped my arms around her, she succumbed to me, her desire for that same connection overwhelming her disdain with me. “I’m really sorry,” I promised, pressing my lips to her head where it now rested against my shoulder. “I’m jealous.”

“Jealous?”

I swallowed, considering my words carefully, coming to terms with exposing myself to this woman I knew so little about. “I’m jealous that you always have the answers.” I started, trying to carefully parse truth from irrationality before sharing it with her. “I’m jealous that you had a normal life with her, that gives you answers like ‘the second drawer from the fridge,’ and yet we’re stuck with what we’re engrossed in now, where I change by the second between feeling totally connected with you and feeling like you’re a stranger entirely.”

Miriam’s arms laced around me. There was a pause between us and it was impossible to keep track of how long it lasted in my distracted, racing mind. When it broke, Miriam was the one to do so, pulling from me enough to lean up and press her lips to mine. “We’re on the same side,” she repeated, her voice level despite the tension in her embrace. “You and me. I know she doesn’t always make it seem that way,” she leaned to kiss me again. “But truly, it’s you and me against the rest and I need you to know that.” Though the kiss broke, Miriam’s face remained close to mine, her eyes as beautifully honest as they’d ever been.

“So we should track down that address?” I offered in effort to reunite us.

“I think so.”

“We better get going then,” I conceded, disappointed when our contact ceased but grateful when Miriam immediately laced her fingers with mine. “You and me.”

“You and me,” she agreed with a smirk, the heaviness of the drawer seemingly lifted from her now. “So stop being such a jackass.”

I watched Miriam as she pulled me along, careful to lock the door behind her and return the spare key to the lip above the door. I admired every instance of detail she managed to remember, careful not to leave any trace of our presence. And still, through it all, she either held on to me or released me only briefly, and again I felt one with her, watching this marvelously clever woman work in a situation that, though foreign to us both, she seemed to thrive in. She would have been a great debt collector.

“Okay.”
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PostSubject: Re: Twenty-Three   Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:41 pm

Okay, 250th in 3 . . .2 . . .

Who waits for 1?

The night remained slow and groggy, even with the two most important people in the world at my side. The minutes passed like hours as we smoked and sighed and tried to make sense of a situation we didn’t understand. ----Yes, nothing left to do here but sigh. I totally feel their pain. Like, literally, I would sigh too.

Finally, Lily’s phone broke the monotony, and I watched as her face grew troubled between her curt responses. Eventually she snapped her aging cell phone closed. “I have to go,” she hurried, retrieving her coat from where she had long abandoned it on the floor next to her. ---You be you Lil. Lol Stay cool, girl. You're amaze. Flip phones fucking rule.

Collin and Lilly's back and forth makes me worry. But I totally understand why Collin is so frustrated at this point. She's being a batch. There's no time to be both a bitch AND all secretive. Mir plays referee again. She's the best. She is the level-headed one, always.

“Collin,” Miriam complained and it took everything in me not to immediately turn on her. Instead, I locked the door. When I returned to my darling succubus, my anger was gone, instead replaced with distrust for my lycanthrope friend. ----See, he brings up my disdain for this. He knows this isn't good. Lily can't be a traitor. I love her too much. But she sure is being fucking shady as fuck. Goddamn.

“Oh, Collin. Don’t do that.” Miriam’s hand returned to its gentle hold on my arm, and despite the situation, my stress was shrugged with my anger. Though distrust remained, it seemed such a foreign problem now, worlds away when I was in Miriam’s grasp. ----Miriam. <3 Even though she doesn't know much about Lil, she's trying to keep the peace.

I totally agree with Collin, though I want to remain level like Miriam. This certainly isn't the time. It makes me uber suspicious of Lily. If you didn't want this, you wouldn't have made her storm away with her phone secret. But seriously, I get where Col is coming from. Kudos to Mir for remaining objective, but all the same, that's super dangerous considering the given situation.

Miriam passed one glass to me while simultaneously downing her own. I accepted mine as Miriam’s face contorted with disgust, her swallow more disdainful than I’d ever seen from her. A cough punctuated her contortion and finally, the glass was abandoned to the carpet, Miriam’s desperation for drink no match for her loathing of the brand. ----To be fair, it is totally disgusting.

Now I stared at it, half-empty as I swished the glass in my hand, watching the oddly clear liquid as it kissed the edges of the rim without spilling over. ---Absolutely adore this fucking image. And really, who drinks this shit at all? Laughing Fucking Sophie. Quit bringing her up GF! It hurts so good!

Is this really the time for them to be drinking? I mean 1/2 is loosening up. Any more than that and these two are going overboard. But I get it. It's their ritual. It's a tense time. Just take a moment and breathe, although who could with this shit in their mouth? Laughing Razz

With my swallow came a momentary clarity, where the entirety of the ordeal around us appeared to me in a brief, bullet-pointed list, and in that list, a name still held uncertainty to me. “Should we looking for Charlotte?” I finally asked aloud and Miriam stiffened at the suggestion. ----First time, I pointed out how much I loved this, and I still love it. But I'm going to give you the exact same version of what I said before, though I found out better and know better now:

Wow, strange that Collin comes to this conclusion on his own. Lily would totally be looking for Charlotte. She's totally the type to hop on the "kick some ass" train. I'd kick her ass too if I was Lil and I even suspected she was rounding up my people for harvest.

Oh wait, I read that wrong. It's a fair question, Col. I mean, if you go to the trouble, you could be met with more. If you let it come to you, it may bring more with it. But I'd say it makes since to stay in your comfort zone here. Char's bound to come to them, as per usual.

“Also probably,” she mumbled as she retrieved her glass, eager to pour another drink, the disgust leaving her as distress took hold. “I don’t know. What do we even do?” ---Very truthful assessment that is also very natural of her character.

“Well,” I complained as I stood, suddenly antsy. “I don’t know. I feel like we should be doing something.” As quickly as I stood, my coat was sliding onto my arms, instantly zipped and as ready as I needed it to be. “I’m going to go to the duplex. She probably isn’t there, but I don’t know what else to do. I feel shitty just sitting here.” ----We are all antsy here Col, but I'm surprised she didn't laugh at you. Laughing I would have. What the eff are the cops going to do with a feud between two supernatural beings? I mean, do they even care, first of all? I get his anxiety though. It feels very much like they HAVE to do something. Call the cops just so happens to be the first thing on all of our list.

“We’ll see,” she shrugged, no longer waiting for me before slipping through the open doorway. “Are you coming?” ---First off, don't tell Miriam she can't do something. Of course she can. She's so fucking bad ass with this line. <3. Love. Take charge Mir. Always. And damn, Col. Haven't you figured out by now that you aren't going any place alone?

*Bell rings

"Everybody, can I have your attention please? Transition school is now in session."

The air was brisk and our step quick as our boots matched their clicks on the sidewalk. We seemed to complement each other, my left step with hers, and vice versa, until I swallowed, realizing I was staring at Miriam’s boots rather than watching where I was going.-----This is how you fucking transition Gf. This is how you do it beautifully, masterfully. Love. I love how in-sync they are. I love how you reiterate it again and again throughout (with my knowledge because I lost the first review).

*Bell Rings

"Thank you for your attendance. Transition school is out."

Miriam hesitated but her step didn’t, continuing with mine as we walked as one being. She savored her words in the thoughtful way she always did, nothing like Lily’s bluntness. I would never know Miriam’s words before she said them and for that I loved her even more. ---What a perfect way to remind us of their differences. I love how you do it with such minuscule idiosyncrasies. It really is the small details that impact the most. This is beautiful. <3

I’m not as selfish as you think, I thought but swallowed, knowing the words were another needless lie. “I don’t want to be the guy you painted me to be in your apartment.” ---Woah. Wait a fucking second! Did Collin just think before he said something! Wow. What the fuck? But hey, I feel he's being honest here with what he actually says as opposed to impulsive. Development, Col. You're doing it right.

stead, we walked, remaining as one, and my love for her grew as she matched my pace effortlessly despite my advantage in height and in lack of heel. ----Just fucking love. <3 <3

As I eyed the next corner in the bend, trying to think of anything but her, I couldn’t. I wondered instead what might have been if I had met Miriam rather than my wife all that time ago, or if we had never gotten caught up in the coup at all. I tried to imagine a normal life with Miriam, like I had experienced with Sophie, but more. The sort I felt in Miriam’s bed, with her breath on my shoulder blades as she held me while I reached for my phone. Waking up to her, breakfast with her, lazy television on the couch with her, but I couldn’t, and the casual routine we feigned in her apartment seemed a lifetime ago, in ashes with her belongings. -----He is so obsessed with her, for lack of a better word, that his mind constantly harps on her despite the chaos around him. That's so selfless in its own suggestion. Love is always selfish, but also, it's not. Beautiful. But now I'm going to go on the rant I did before this second review:

OMFG GF! HOW DARE YOU FUCKING LIE TO ME! YOU SAID THERE WAS NO MIDDLE GROUND, AND LOOK AT THE FUCKING MIDDLE GROUND YOU FOUND AND HAVE CONTINUOUSLY DONE THROUGHOUT THIS BOOK! HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST TO ME THAT THERE ISN'T A MIDDLE GROUND. HOW DARE YOU! NOW I KNOW I'M EITHER ONE EXTREME OR THE OTHER. HOW FUCKING DARE YOU, GF! YOU LIAR. YOU FUCKING LIAR!

Rant over.

The buzz of a neon sign filled my ears and I snapped back to reality, suddenly aware of the familiar, dingy bar we were passing. I took a breath before sneaking a glance through the window, but a man was behind the counter. I would have to make Lily track down the barmaid when all of this was through. ----But why, Col? Are you feeling suddenly guilty? Hmm. Interesting.

When we continued, it was again in unison, in tandem, every extension of Miriam’s long, bare legs matching my own and without asking, I wondered why she hadn’t created something longer in this chill. Perhaps she was conserving? Perhaps we had to now. ---Fair point. But is there REALLY no time for sex? Razz Just messin' Gf. This is a solemn reminder to us of the situation.

Her eyes yielded to mine, uncertainty evident behind the reflections of streetlights in her irises. ----<3 <3 <3 <3 Simply adore, Gf. Adore.

Though I wasn’t satisfied, I didn’t have the words to request affirmation from her. Instead, I tried to force my attention to the other side of the street, to the duplex, where I made an exception for an imaginary teen and seemingly set my role in all of this into motion. Where a son I never knew existed only in the memory of a wife I no longer recognized. Where a woman with an obsession was a prisoner to her own despair. ---I remember commenting on how much I loved this summarizing of Collin's story. There's totes more to it, but this brushes all of the major points. This fucking house is haunting him from the moment he first came to it. And these aspects have stuck with him, as Char is an unresolved plot point at this moment.

Miriam crossed the street without me. I was stuck, my feet melted to their spot, destined not to budge. ----- <3 <3 <3

She sighed with a smile, proud as she assessed the key in her hand, only then acknowledging my inquisitive glance. “Some things never change,” she shrugged, forcing the key into the lock without another thought. ----Further affirming how stupid Charlotte is. Fucking motard. (First time reading, I didn't catch this hint at their former relationship. I do now Razz)

“It was in the second drawer next to the fridge. The one she always kept important things in. It’s something, Collin, I promise you.”----First time, I was like, how the eff did she know this?! I ranted about it a min.

As my eyes trailed the freshly vacuumed floor, I stood jealous at Charlotte’s ability to maintain a normal life, punctuated with menial chores. Further still, I stood jealous at Miriam’s insider knowledge of my wife, someone I should know more intimately than she. “And you just conveniently found it on your first look?”----Hisssss. Someone needs jelly school, and it's not me this time.

Miriam reached into the drawer, retrieving a small booklet. “Checkbook.” She tossed it onto the counter next the drawer, now retrieving a paper midway through the stack. “Her lease.” That dropped to the counter as well and Miriam resumed her angry rummaging until she came away with a photograph, larger and more recent than the polaroids she so cherished of her own. Her expression changed from anger to disappointment, elevating only to frustration as she placed the picture more gently atop the lease. “Us.” Miriam’s eyes rolled as she avoided the picture, instead returning them to me. “Her important shit. The address was on the top.” ----This is exactly the fucking Miriam that I love. This is an amazing scene. It's one of those moments where dialogue and detail blend seamlessly. It's perfect. This is like when she slapped him in the face. Yeah, this is one of those moments.

Holy shit. Totally didn't catch that it was her and Char in the photo. Boom. And her distaste for that. Wow. I never knew the two of them were so close. Wtf?

“Fuck you,” she repeated, softer than before as she again fell into disappointment. She crossed her arms, leaning back against the counter. “So it’s only ‘you and me’ when you’re the one looking suspicious?” ---I'll admit to vocally going, "Ohhhhhhh!" Because oh-fucking-snap. Way to go Col. Way to bring this one on yourself. Damn. Why does she always have to be so right. Just when I'm okay with Col, she shows me his true colors. He can be rather finicky.

Miriam’s arms laced around me. There was a pause between us and it was impossible to keep track of how long it lasted in my distracted, racing mind. When it broke, Miriam was the one to do so, pulling from me enough to lean up and press her lips to mine. “We’re on the same side,” she repeated, her voice level despite the tension in her embrace. “You and me. I know she doesn’t always make it seem that way,” she leaned to kiss me again. “But truly, it’s you and me against the rest and I need you to know that.” Though the kiss broke, Miriam’s face remained close to mine, her eyes as beautifully honest as they’d ever been.-----Absolutely adore her repetition of his words here. That is super genius. You always do things sparingly, ergo perfectly. This is just the literal best.

“You and me,” she agreed with a smirk, the heaviness of the drawer seemingly lifted from her now. “So stop being such a jackass.” Laughing Laughing Laughing Thank you for the much needed comic relief!

She would have been a great debt collector. ---Uhhhh, fuck yeah she would have!!!!!11!!!!!

Okay, going to insert my original end here:

Okay, so I don't know why you think this chapter had no point. You obviously addressed the growing tension between them because of Charlotte. You detailed a little more of Mir and Char's relationship. I had no clue Char HAD cared this much about Mir. That's very interesting. And yes, they walked, but most the chapter was actually spent indoors. Lol, if I'm being technical. And the address? You rose a point for the next chapter. We have somwhere to go from here. And we have the question of Lily? Where did she go? Who was she talking to? Is she kinda/sorta a traitor? I don't think so, but it's possible. You raised fair questions here. Questions relevant to the plot as it stands now. I don't think this was at all irrelevant, though I would have loved to see them go to the address. But the end is fair, and I accept it as closure to the Char/Mir/Col situation (as far as their distrust goes).

Love, Bf
!!!!11!!!!

PS. Love me. This second review was ~600 words longer.

And with this, my 250th badge! Fuck yeah. I think I fucking earned it!!!!!!!!!! Razz

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