Burning Star 5


X Lyla was sitting on the piano bench, facing the keyboard.  Shana was sitting close beside her, facing the opposite way.  The singer was absently running through finger patterns on the keys with one hand, but the board was turned off and there was nothing but the soft clack of her fingernails on the fake ivory.“All this time…” she said, her dreadlocks dangling over her face as her head bent down.Shana didn’t say anything, but Lyla felt her hand come to rest on her shoulder, and she was thankful for it.  Her mind was already lost in all the possible endings she could put to the sentence.“Protecting me,” the singer finally added.  “From things I didn’t even know.  Didn’t want to face.  Now he’s out there and I just let him without a second thought.  I should’ve gone with him.”She thought of how it would hit the news when he filled in a lot of blanks around the way the back door had been locked.  There were too many possible reasons for it, and none of them were good.“You know he wouldn’t let you risk exposing yourself until you’re ready,” the brunette told her.Lyla knew she was right, but he was six hours later than he said he’d be, and she didn’t know why.  And beyond that, she felt responsible.  She was sure something went wrong.  She could feel it.“This is the longest we’ve been away from each other the whole two months.  It’s not the same as me just being over at Izzy’s working in the studio.  It feels weird.”“He’s fine,” Shana said, squeezing her shoulder lightly.  “It’s just a few reporters.  Besides, you’ve seen what he can do if anything goes wrong.”Lyla nodded.  “Yeah, I guess I have at that.  Still…I dunno.  I shouldn’t have let him go on his own.  Maybe I’ve been too caught up in the new recording.”They’d seen the interview, but afterward they deliberately avoided the television.  Now the singer’s anxious curiosity was beginning to get the best of her.“Baby…that album you’re working on is one of the best things anyone ever did for him.  And nobody deserves it like he does.”Just the way any artist would, Lyla had wanted to express the intensity of the experience she’d been through.  When she started out, she’d thought that experience was the fire.  Being caught and then saved.  But as she worked her way from song to song, she started to realize the real experience was still going on.  The real fire had started outside the club on the curb when Case took her by the hand and led her away.He was her experience, and she was his.“So what do you do when you end up loving someone and everything you’ve got is less than they deserve?”Shana laughed, and Lyla shot her a snarky look.“I’m only laughing because I’m pretty sure even you know how dumb that sounds,” the brunette tacked on.“You’re a shitty therapist, you know that?”Shana snickered again.  “I’m much better with sex therapy than actual counseling.”Lyla chuckled.  “I’ve noticed that about you.”“Mmm, still waiting to see you and Case walk in right around closing time.”“Liar.”“Okay.  Hoping a little.”“That I’ll believe.”Shana’s hand moved across the front of Lyla’s body and cupped her breast through the light blouse she had on, then she laid her cheek against the singer’s shoulder where her hand had just been.“You probably shouldn’t do that.”“I know.”“But it does feel good.”“I know that, too.”The brunette’s hand caressed the singer’s flesh absently.  Lyla felt her nipple pebble to hardness.“How come you and Case never…took it further?”“Probably for about every reason in the book,” Shana said.  “I was too close on the heels of all that shit with Kelly.  Then there’s that little thing about being a famous, gold digging whore.”“That doesn’t matter to him.”“Yeah, but it does to me.  That’s what a big part of me will always be.”“No, it won’t.  Remember what you said that day about us all having our own burning building?”“Yeah, but not like yours,” the brunette reminded her.“They’re never like anybody else’s.  They’re not supposed to be.Shana’s hand slipped under the bottom hem of Lyla’s blouse and found went back onto her breast.“Wanna know my big secret?  I’m thirty-five years old, famous for doing porn and a billionaire preacher, and I’ve fucked exactly nine men in my life.  Not exactly a world record.”Lyla wasn’t sure if she was doing a good enough job keeping her surprise off her face.  Shana lifted her head and smiled wryly as she kept massaging her breast.  The singer’s pussy was beginning to buzz with warmth.  Ankara escort The other woman’s hand was a highly welcome touch of hot affection, but at the same time it was making Case’s absence that much more striking.She’d already experienced a taste of where Shana was capable of taking her, but she felt strangely disoriented without him there.  She could imagine allowing herself to surrender her desire to almost any kind of sexual situation or exploration, but not without him.  From that night behind the warehouse – on top of his huge, vintage car in the rain – her path to all the sensations that brought her sensual soul to life were inextricably linked to him.“Does that seem wrong to you for some reason?” she finally asked.  She wanted to reach under her blouse and pull the other woman’s hand away from her tingling breast, but then again, no, she didn’t.“No,” the brunette replied.  “But the apparent contradiction isn’t lost on me.”Lyla sighed.  Her breast billowed into the other woman’s clutch with the intake of breath.  “Maybe it really isn’t such a contradiction.  But your clean little secret is safe with me.”“You aren’t much like other people,” Shana said with a smile.  “Except maybe Case.  The two of you are like two halves of the same fruit.”The singer chuckled softly.“And I do like fruit,” the brunette added.  She kissed Lyla’s neck.  Once.  Lingering just briefly – one soft, half damp, breath-laced kiss.Lyla expected the next kiss to come to her mouth, but it didn’t.  Shana just straightened back up and withdrew her hand from under the singer’s blouse and let it rest on her bare thigh, close to the edge of the yoga shorts she had on.“Probably be done in the studio in a few more days.  I’m gonna have to figure some way of getting back into my life.  I’m just not sure if it’s even still there.  Or if it ever really was.”“Baby, this is your life.  Anyone can see that.  All you need to do is say yes to it.”“You make it sound easy.”“It kind of is.”“When people find out Izzy is playing guitar and bass on the album it’s gonna cause a big stir.  He sounds better than ever.  It’s gonna be a big change for him, too.”“Maybe.  Izzy’s been through everything three times over already.”“And what about Case?  I just kind of dropped myself on his lap out of nowhere.”Shana snickered briefly.  “That man lives in the middle of nowhere.  Or haven’t you noticed?  At least he used to…before you.  Even you can’t miss the way he looks at you.  Or how his voice changes every time he says your name.”“Yeah…um…yeah.  But he never said anything.  It’s like he just put this veil of protection all around me and then set me free inside it.  I feel him, but…”“But you’re as big a coward as he is?”They both started to laugh, and when they finished, Shana kissed the other woman’s mouth with tender hunger.  It was somewhere between brief and lingering, but long enough to make the singer’s pulse speed up and pussy begin to ache with a dull throb.  She felt an ironic sense of caring behind it, as if the brunette were kissing her on Case’s behalf.  The ache in her pussy shot even deeper as the hand on her thigh squeezed harder.“You’re putting me in mind of fucking his brains out the second he walks in that door and telling him I love him while I got him balls deep inside.”“Now that I’d love to see,” Shana said, voice going husky.“Freak.”“Yeah, but you gotta admit I’m a sweet freak.”“Mhmm, and I know you’re just trying to get me hot enough to jump his ass before the door even shuts.”“Yeah, well it’s working.  Admit it.” Shana slid her hand up Lyla’s thigh until she was cupping her pussy.  The singer started to wish she’d put on panties.  Her slit was beginning to flush and dampen her clinging shorts.  She got up off the bench and walked a semi-circle around it before she soaked herself completely.“I still don’t know why you and he never…ya know.”“Different kinds of fruit.  Besides, I make a better tourist than a neighbor.”“Oh, you seem quite neighborly to me.”Shana laughed briefly again.  “You know what I’d love more than anything?  To see you and Case get over yourselves enough to just admit everything you feel for each other and live happily ever after right here in the village.  That would inspire me.”“Yeah, well…pretty sure we got the love part handled.  Just the details are a little…challenging.”“Only if you let ‘em be.”“Mhmm, sure.  I think I might’ve Ankara escort bayan liked you better when you were just rubbing my pussy.”“Then c’mon back over and take a seat, baby.”Lyla flashed her a sarcastic look, even though she gave the idea a moment’s thought.  But she also thought it should’ve been that kind of moment where she could look at Shana and realize how alike they were.  But it wasn’t.  They weren’t.  All she could think of were their differences, and how they were a big part of the reason Lyla trusted her.Shana had a steadiness about her she’d probably never admit to being aware of.  She seemed secure even in what she imagined to be her flaws, but Lyla didn’t see them as flaws.Before the singer had a chance to reply, Case’s truck pulled up out front.  Lyla rolled her eyes in relief while Shana flashed her a told-you-so smile.  After that, a long time passed before he finally walked in.He looked tired, as if the weight of his own body was more than he needed to carry.  Lyla spotted the blood and dust on his clothes and felt ice run through her veins.  She couldn’t speak, but Shana was quick to notice it, too, and started to say something.“It’s not mine,” Case told them calmly.Lyla’s throat still felt plugged, but her feet were moving toward him as he stood in the middle of the room.  Her arms went around his body as if they were thinking for themselves.  His moved around her at the same time.  He’d held her with anxious heat and desire many times before – with the love and need they had yet to name – but now she felt as if he were trying to wrap her up inside him as far as he could pull her.She’d felt the emptiness in his heart the moment he reached for her hand that night outside the club, and she’d recognized it instantly.  It was the same void she’d been carrying around in her own.  For the first time since, there was no trace of it anywhere between them.  All she could feel was a circle of sweet desperation surrounding her.Her knees went out from under her and his arms held more tightly as she began to slip toward the floor.  Shana’s hand settled onto her back, and then it seemed as if another force that existed entirely beyond any of them were lifting her back up.“You’re back.  That’s all that matters.”It was Shana’s voice, just behind her, speaking the words that were caught somewhere between Lyla’s throat and the place inside her where all of her fears had just begun to unravel.Everything went fragile as crystal – time, the stars, even the mountain they were on.  She couldn’t get the image of the blood on his clothes out of her mind no matter how tightly she closed her eyes.  The details were the least of it.  The realization of how close she came to losing him before she even had the chance to have him completely – without restraint – weighed on her soul like a terrible darkness.“Nothing touches us but us,” he said.  His voice was still calm.  Steady, but haunted in its tone.“Welcome home to the people who love you, Case.”  It was Shana again.  Her hand was still there on Lyla’s back.  Still warm.  It almost felt as if she were holding her against him.  “You know how to find me if you need something.  Anything.  Either of you.”“Wait, Shana.  You’re part of all this now.  I feel better knowing you were here.  Knowing she’s been safe and not alone.  You have a right to hear what went down.”Lyla was trying to tell him she shouldn’t have let him go on his own, but the right words still wouldn’t come.  “I need you,” was all that came weakly from between her lips.  She wanted to hate the entire notion of love for all its insane delicacy and hopeless flaws.  It seemed such a pitiable thing to give anyone.  Something you couldn’t even see or touch.  Odorless.  At least flowers had a scent you could follow and be able to find them in the dark.“We saw the interview,” the brunette said.  “Looks like you’re famous all over again.  The unknown hero comes forward…blah, blah, blah.”Lyla knew there was more, and that he’d talk about it when he was ready.  Nothing else mattered but their being back in each other’s arms.  His hand moved to her face, pulling at her to look at him.  There was a fearful peace in his eyes.“Where I just was…” he began.  “It was the complete opposite of this.  Us.  Everything we are and have.  For a while, I was afraid.  More afraid than I’ve ever been of anything.  Not so much of what Escort Ankara he could do, but what he is.  The opposite of everything.  Then I remembered what you keep saying.  Nothing touches us but us.  I remembered.  Heard the echo of your voice in my head, and I looked into the eyes of a man who’s not a man.  I just felt pity and disgust.  And this feeling of total certainty I was coming home to you.  I love you, Lyla.  Maybe more than anyone was ever meant to love someone else.  But I do, and that’s just how it is.  I know you can’t stay here forever, but if you could stay…with me…”“Jesus.”  It was Shana again.  Her body was pressing tighter against the singer’s back.“I need us,” Lyla said.  There was more, but his face was already angling down and his mouth took hers in a hard, breath-sapping kiss.  Shana was rubbing her shoulders lightly.  She didn’t need the extra reassurance, but she was thankful for it.  It felt right the brunette was there to witness what was happening between Case and her.  No one but Shana would truly understand.They kissed long and deeply, and then Case finally broke.  He pulled out of the embrace, but took Lyla’s hand and started toward the stairs.  “You’re gonna see it sooner or later,” he said.  “Better to just get it over with.  C’mon, Shana.  You, too.”The singer walked up the stairs with Case leading and Shana following.  He led them to the bedroom where the only television in the house was.Lyla and Shana both took a seat at the edge of the bed while Case turned on the set and left the room without a word.  A commercial was just ending, and then it cut directly to Darien Trent’s interview with a state police officer out in the desert, where officers and EMT personnel were in the process of arresting and hospitalizing a man named Nicholas Ducaine.He needed treatment for rattlesnake bites and an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, although he told the police he’d been shot by Case Rawlins, the former B league third baseman who’d just come forward to identify himself as the Shockley Park nightclub fire hero.  Ducaine was being arrested for arson and attempted murder, along with other charges yet to be determined.They were gearing up to throw every book ever written at him.The police were extending Trent an extra measure of courtesy in covering the story since he’d been the one to call it in, and had given them valuable information that was saving them an enormous amount of time and trouble.Lyla’s heart filled with a sense of horror as she watched Trent unravel the story.  She didn’t have to turn and look to know Shana had to be having a strong reaction of her own.The sound of the shower being turned on came from down the hall.  Case would be stepping in to wash away the residue of the whole experience.The report went on longer than it needed to for the amount of information there was to convey.  In the end, it was really the simple story of a sociopath and the resonance of his random acts of evil.  After a few minutes, Lyla looked at Shana who was staring at the screen with a look of quiet astonishment.“Seen enough?” the singer asked.“Definitely.”Lyla shut off the television and they sat through a moment of pure stillness, broken only by soft sound of the shower running in the other room.  By now, Case would be clean of the outward stains – the blood and dust – but she couldn’t imagine how long the inner stains would be with him.  She wasn’t sure if the strange sense of relief now replacing the horror she’d felt before should be normal.  Maybe it was just the calm before the inevitable, emotional storm.She almost felt as if she were back in the club that night when a tall stranger stepped out of the shadows and showed her the path out of the chaos.That had been the true moment of finding the rest of her life.  Whatever she did in the next days and weeks hardly mattered, and what she was left with now was the same feeling she’d had that night.  There was a joyful purity in simply being alive, and Case was there to remind her.Now it was up to her to remind him.  And as she studied Shana’s face outlined in the dim light, she realized the brunette had only had herself for a rescuing hero back when her own fire had broken out.  In her uniform from the diner, her thighs and pronounced cleavage featured ripe curves as the pale light cast lines over her skin.  She was fantasy and reality combined.Lyla wished she could be more like the other woman in one, fundamental way – to be able to taste that joyful purity without feeling the need to name or define it.  But that was what her music was for.  And now, she felt her heart and body filling up with a different kind of music.She reached over and put her hand on Shana’s thigh.

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