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The next morning Honey woke to find her bed devoid of Jackie. Raising an eyebrow, she wondered if Jackie had actually left or was just in the bathroom. Getting up, she stretched her arms and put on her bathrobe. Walking into the kitchen she discovered Jackie standing over the stove with a spatula in her hands as she was cooking scrambled eggs and sausages. Jackie quickly glanced at Honey and smiled.
“Hope you're hungry!” Jackie said.
“Where's Jean?” Honey asked as she noticed her friend wasn't there.
“She stopped by earlier with Cassie. The two are spending the day together. Honestly, I feel bad for Cassie. Jean has to get over you already since I have no intention of leaving.”
Honey smiled in response at Jackie's comment of not leaving her. Though she definitely agreed Jean needed to get over her. Walking over to Jackie, she hugged her from behind, her arms around Jackie's waist, and she kissed Jackie's cheek.
“Shouldn't you be at school?” Honey asked playfully.
“I could ask the same thing about you, you know,” Jackie said and laughed.
Jackie flipped the eggs she was making in the skillet and did the same with the sausages with Honey still hugging her from behind. Honey eventually broke the embrace and took out two mugs, placing six sugars in Jackie's mug and thee in her own.
“Seriously, don't you have class today?” Honey asked.
“Not until later today!” Jackie answered, smirking.
Honey looked at the clock on the kitchen wall. Her eyes widened.
“Oh no!” She stated. “I have class in an hour from now. I'm gonna be late!”
She was about to rush out of the kitchen when Jackie grabbed her arm. Jackie smiled at Honey's dumbstruck face.
“I can just drive you. It's only ten minutes away,” Jackie said and released Honey's arm.
Honey smiled and placed a hand on Jackie's shoulder. Jackie smiled at her and continued cooking the eggs.
Mark finished his shift at the miniature golf course and headed over to the park. The same park incidentally that he and his friends had almost attacked Honey in. Dressed in a gray jacket and grayish blue jeans, he was thinking of the night he found his father's murderer. Ironic that he had met Jackie Miller the same night he was planning to commit murder.
He gathered he should have felt guilty but he didn't bother with his conscience right now. Why should he? Mark hadn't been the same ever since he found out his father had been killed. Hadn't he begged his father not to enter the tournament on that night three years ago? He remembered the day as if it was yesterday.
Mark's dad didn't understand. He promised to win the money they needed to get out of living in a hotel room, but the promise was never met. After his father's death he moved away from Texas and into New York. After all, wasn't that were people's dreams came true? What he never expected was that Jackie Miller would reside in New York.
Leaving the park, he walked into the closest coffee shop. He brought himself a small coffee and sat down at one of the tables. Drinking from his cup, he spotted Jackie Miller at the counter and his eyes flashed with hatred at the sight of her, but he forced himself to remain calm. Getting his revenge now would not help him. He had to play his cards right. Jackie was by herself and he decided to make the first move.
“Hello,” he said to Jackie. A confused look spread across the woman's face.
“Do I know you?” She asked.
“No, I'm afraid you don't. Name's Tom,” he replied quickly and held out his hand.
“Nice to meet you Tom,” she said and shook his hand, followed by completing her order for the barista which was a single cup of tea.
“Why don't you come sit with me?” Mark asked her.
Jackie shrugged indifferently and followed him. Sitting in silence, they stared at each other. A strange sensation of familiarity crossed Jackie's features or so he thought but she looked impassive once more.
“So where are you from?” Jackie asked, attempting to get a conversation going.
“Around,” Mark said mysteriously. “I just moved to New York and I'm still trying to figure out my way around here.”
“That explains the non-fear of strangers and your accent,” Jackie replied, not unkindly. “New York can be tricky at first but once you get used to the streets and everything it's a cakewalk.”
Mark took a sip of his tea. Jackie did the same.
“I can swear you look really familiar and I just can't place it. Doesn't make sense though,” Jackie said as she took another sip of tea and ran her fingers through her hair.
“I'm told I have a familiar face a lot,” Mark replied quickly, taking a sip of his own tea.
Jackie glanced at her watch and her eyes widened.
“It was nice to meet you Tom, but I have to run,” she said and quickly stood up.
“Can we meet again, Jackie?” Mark asked.
“We'll see, but I really have to go right now. Thanks for the company,” Jackie said and hurried out of the coffee shop.
Mark sniggered to himself as he slowly drank more of his tea. Yes, he would definitely see Jackie again. Then, he would exact his revenge on his father's murderer.
Honey saw Jean once her class was over. Jean was with Cassie and Honey smiled at the lovers and loved how their arms were linked together as they stood side by side. Cassie was smiling at Jean and had natural auburn hair that most women would kill for. Honey figured that was a plus in Jean's favor. Looking at Jean, she saw that her best friend was wearing a fake smile. Inwardly, Honey cringed. If the couple was not happy, why would they stay together?
“Hey lovebirds,” Honey waved as she jogged up to them.
“Hey, what's up?” Cassie asked.
“Nothing really. Just got out of class and waiting for Jackie,” Honey answered cheerfully. “How about you two?”
“You do an awful lot of waiting around for that woman,” Jean replied but then quickly shared a kiss with Cassie and smiled at her.
“So what are your plans for tonight?” Honey asked nonchalantly and shrugged.
Cassie smiled and looked at Jean and then Honey.
“Oh there's a lake Jean mentioned wanting to go to today,” Cassie said, “I'm looking forward to it, although I'd love to show her a place I hold dear.”
Jean cringed outwardly. Turning to look at Honey and then Cassie, she replied.
“I already told you, Cassie, it's too early in our relationship for that.”
“Okay babe, whenever you're ready,” she responded and patted Jean's arm.
“Will you be home later?” Honey asked Jean.
“Don't know,” Jean said. “We'll see.”
“Let's go,” Cassie said. “See you soon Honey.”
Honey waved and watched as the couple walked away. She knew something wasn't right with Jean but couldn't place her finger on it. Judging from their brief interaction, Cassie truly liked her and Honey hoped Jean felt the same. At the same time, she was thinking maybe Jean could use some therapy? Shaking her head at the internal dilemma, she began walking towards the parking lot to search for Jackie. Her lover was late and that wasn't like her.
Honey froze and turned around. John was behind her, standing with a group of guys. Resisting the urge to gulp, she stood her ground.
“Hello, Jonn,” she said civilly.
“It has come to my attention that you may bat for the other team,” John said without preamble.
“What would that matter even if it were true? This is the 21st century after all,” Honey said quickly.
“With how fast you left the church yesterday, I could only guess that,” John said and hugged his arms to his chest. He grinned.
“What do you want John? I really don't have time for this,” Honey replied quickly, forcing down a panic attack.
“Go out with me. A real man,” John replied. “A man can give you something a woman can't.”
“First off, even if I was single, I'd never date you,” Honey responded and clenched her fists.
“Are you dating a woman? You know, it's socially acceptable now to date both and it's really hot. That's as long as you eventually leave the woman,” John said and quickly glanced at the other guys with him who nodded in agreement.
“Wow, I didn't know this school was producing mass hypocrites. Then again, you seem to be a natural,” Honey said and began to walk away.
“I'm not done with you yet, stay put,” John demanded, raising his fist.
“I'm done with you,” Honey said and continued walking away from him as fast as she could.
Honey began to run as John chased her. She ran past one of the school buildings and was trying to get to the main one, when John grabbed her arm. Forcing her to face him, Honey braced herself.
“One date, and let me show you how a real man can treat you,” John demanded. “Don't make me look like an idiot in front of the guys.”
Pulling her arm back from his grip, Honey's green eyes flared with anger. Placing her hands on her hips, she looked into his blue gray eyes and screamed.
“I'm not interested John. I don't ever want to date you and if you bother me again I'll report you for aggravated harassment. Do you understand?”
John gulped and then folded his arms across his chest. He stuck his tongue out at her and walked away.
“You're probably just some stupid prude anyway,” he ranted as he walked away.
Sighing, Honey thought this semester couldn't be over fast enough. She wanted away from ignorant homophobic ass holes like John. Or in this case, chauvinistic pigs since Honey didn't say whether she was gay or not. For living in the 21st century, a lot still needed to change. Pulling out her cellphone she texted Jackie. Afterwards, she walked to the courtyard and waited.
Jackie thought about Tom as she drove. 'I know him from somewhere, but where?' His face was too alarmingly familiar. Careful not to run through red lights, she still couldn't shake her own gut feelings. He had told her he had a familiar face and that was true, but something didn't bode well. She felt a certain pang upon meeting him. Was it regret? It definitely wasn't love or any warm fuzzy feeling. Not that she got that meeting men anyway. Oh yes, she can state whether she thought a man was attractive or not, but it didn't mean she was interested.
Pulling into the parking lot of the community college, she scanned the area for her blond lover. Honey's class ended 15 minutes ago and Jackie had a sent a text she was on her way, when Honey sent one asking where she was. Tom was getting to her, but she wouldn't let Honey know about that just yet. Not until she could figure it out herself!
Seeing Honey she smiled. Her blond lover let herself into the car, quickly buckled up and sighed in relief. Jackie raised an eyebrow.
“Where were you?” Honey asked.
“Sorry, I'm late,” Jackie responded and lifted an eyebrow. “You okay?”
“You missed it,” Honey said and started playing with her fingers.
“Missed what?” Jackie asked as she drove the car out of the parking lot.
“John Bradley's evident and disgusting homophobia. He tried to ask me out,” Honey said as clenched one of her hands into a fist and let it go.
Jackie kept her eyes on the road. Still, she was becoming angry.
“How does he know you're gay?” Jackie asked as she made a left turn.
“He doesn't. He's just assuming I am,” Honey replied. “He's annoying for lack of a better term.”
“I could have told you that,” Jackie said. “Did he try anything?”
“He chased me down, grabbed my arm, and tried to force me to go on a date with him,” Honey answered.
“I think you should press charges,” Jackie said.
“Um, he didn't do anything aside from what I just said. Our justice system won't do anything to help me unless I'm raped or something like that,” Honey answered.
Jackie rolled her eyes. Honey did have a point and even had she been raped, the justice system wasn't exactly helpful in all scenarios. Still there were good cops in the force right? She wanted to be one of them in the future.
“Just be careful around him and if he tries anything again, please let me know,” Jackie said.
“Don't worry, you'll be the first to know baby,” Honey said and rested a hand on Jackie's thigh.
Jackie smiled and left one of her hands on the steering wheel. She placed her other hand on Honey's. Still, the Tom thing bothered her and this didn't get past Honey.
“Is something wrong?” Honey asked.
“Huh? Oh, it's nothing,” Jackie said and made another turn.
“Do you want to spend the night?” Honey asked.
“Maybe another time,” Jackie replied still focusing on the road.
“You giving up a night of sex? Never would have dreamed it.” Honey joked.
“Sex is fun with you definitely,” Jackie said “But I want more than just sex with you.”
Honey blushed. She smiled at her brunette lover. Jackie stole a quick sidelong glance at Honey and then back to the road.
“I love you, Jackie.”
“I love you too, Honey.”
Once Jackie was home, she turned on her computer and searched through all of her social network pages. Looking through school yearbooks and family photos that she kept private, nothing showed up. Tom's face wasn't showing up in anything and something about him made her shudder, but what?
She began looking through her extracurricular activities and still found nothing. In school, she participated in both softball and lacrosse, but aside from some team photos, nothing. Jackie had also played football but nothing was showing up there either.
Beginning to grow discouraged, she remembered her martial arts training. She smiled to herself as people thought she was insane growing up considering all the activities she did. Although the sports she played never lasted long, martial arts was always a constant in her life. Or rather, it used to be.
Hesitating, she wasn't sure if she could look at those photos. She had never posted those on social media and for good reason. It was a tournament Jackie did not want to remember. Still, she had to know. She dug in her desk drawer for her flash drive. Heck, she even had newspaper clippings from the event in a filing cabinet. A bit archaic today, but she liked old fashioned things sometimes. Of course, she also printed out some of the online articles at the time and saved those in the filing cabinet as well. Her saving grace was that these were from a different country and most people, didn't look at news sources in other countries or care. Bracing herself, she found her flash-drive and started beginning to confront her own demons.
Once she inserted the flash-drive in her computer she scanned the files and opened them with the click of her mouse. Skimming through the photographs, all she could see was each contestant dressed in their gis and preparing to demonstrate their moves. All the contestants were familiar to her as ones she had previously faced in the tournament and had killed. The killing was what made her give up martial arts in the first place. Her discipline was severely lacking that day. Her sensei would not have been pleased. True, the tournament stated there was a 30% survival rate and she entered it. It was kill or be killed, but she still felt like a monster in disguise.
Going on a hunch, she opened the first file which was on a Texan man. He was the first man Jackie killed. Eyes widening, Jackie couldn't believe it. The man she was looking at was the spitting image of Tom, only a bit older. She scrolled down. The man's name was Mark David Solomon the First. It listed he a had a son, Mark Jr. 'What the hell! What's the Texan's son doing here?' Wait. If Mark Jr. was here that could only mean one thing. He wanted revenge and she was his target!