But Now One Soul

byAlex the Cat©

John nods and chuckles at the warning of spices.

"You can call tomorrow to see about the lab results. I don't believe we'll find anything further, but I just want to make sure. You know how I am." She says with a lopsided grin.

"Oh, I know. That's why I keep coming to you and telling everyone I know about what a great vet you are. There is no one else around who cares so much for her clients and their owners."

"Thanks John. I had a wonderful teacher. Janice will have everything set for you at the counter." She reaches out to give him a firm shake of the hand. "Have a good day." She then turns to Charlie. Holding out her hand, Charlie gives her his paw. "You too Charlie, and you take care of John here." She scratches his head then walks out of the room. Heading down the hall to the back room, she wonders if Miguel found anything with the specimen.


Artemis is at the other end of the hallway, watching her mother. Suddenly her ears shoot straight up, and she lets out a warning bark.

Jesse turns. "What are you barking at girl? Are you being goofy?" Looking at the Shepherd she shakes her head with a smile. She opens the lab door. Why do I smell gasoline? "Miguel? I smell gas, what are you doing?"

The lights of the room are off. The only movement she hears is of the animals in some of the crates. She tries the light switch to no avail. Walking over to the lab counter, she finds him slumped on the floor. "Miguel?"

Whack.

Everything goes black before her for a minute. She grabs her head to stop it from spinning. Bloody hell. What the fuck just happened? She opens her eyes slowly and notices a dark figure a couple of feet away with a container. Feeling the stickiness of blood on the side of her head, she struggles to get up without drawing attention.

"Hello, you fucking dyke." The figure moves towards her. "Remember me? You ruined me."
Jesse looks, and in the semi-darkness of the room she makes out his face. Realization hits her. Oh, fuck.

"I see you remember. Now you're gonna pay. It took me a long time to find you but I did, and I'm going to ruin you permanently. And I'll find your bitch girlfriend too. When I do, I'm gonna fuck her good for a long time then slit her throat."

Jesse's rage got the better of her. Lunging forward she punches him square in the nose. He stumbles backward. She then throws a sidekick at his ribs. He falls into the counter with a thud.

"You stupid cunt." He goes to backhand her across the face and misses. She ducks in time and throws a straight punch to his groin. "Aarrgh!" He grabs his manhood as he falls to his knees.

Jesse heads for the door, and he trips her. Grabbing her by the neck, he smashes her head through one of the glass cabinets. The dogs in the room begin to bark from fear, and the cats screech and hiss.

The figure pulls a lighter out of his pocket and lights the waste paper basket. He throws it where he poured the gasoline. The room ignites immediately in flames.

Trying to get a hold of her barring, she struggles to stand. Seeing the flames erupting, Jesse begins to frantically open the doors to all the crates. She grabs the handle to the main door again and then something solid encounters her arm. The intense pain shoots up to her shoulder. From the corner of her eye she notices the baseball bat, but too late when it strikes her leg. As she falls to the floor, she hears ferocious barking coming from the other side of the door and a scratching noise.

Suddenly the door opens, and she sees a dog jump at the dark figure and another dog trailing behind. As her vision becomes blurry from the excruciating pain and the blood seeping from her head wounds, she calls out to Dani. I love you Dani. I'm sorry baby. Everything…hurts. I…love…you…my dearest. Blackness surrounds her.

Dani decided to surprise her lover at the clinic by taking her out to lunch. As she turns the corner, an intense heart wrenching pain clutches her chest. She hears Jesse's last words. The pain splits her heart and tears roll down her cheeks. "Something's terribly wrong."

She guns the accelerator for the last two miles almost causing a couple of accidents. Jesse? Jesse, talk to me baby. Silence is returned.

A police car notices the reckless driving so he turns on the sirens and chases her. Screeching her tires into the parking lot of the clinic, she and the officer see a dark gray cloud of smoke emerging from it. The officer gets on the radio to make sure the call has been made to the fire department and paramedics.

Suddenly the fire trucks arrive at the scene. Seeing Janice out front, Dani runs up to her. "What happened? Where's Jesse?"

"Honey, they're in the back, Jesse and Miguel. John went after them but didn't return." The receptionist says frantically. "We don't know what happened. A fire broke out somehow."

Dani yells out to the firemen. "There's a rear emergency exit." She runs around the side of the building and jumps the fence. Others quickly follow. Horror stricken, she sees two prone figures. One clearly is Jesse. There are four dogs lying surrounding her in a circle. Artemis is directly on top of her mother's chest. A low painful howl is begun by Arty and the other dogs follow suit.

Miguel is sitting in the grass holding his head while an older man tries to hold him upright. A bloodhound lies next to them. The other prone figure lies alone.

She runs to Jesse. The dogs look at her and begin to growl. Artemis let's out a bark and begins pushing the other dogs aside with her head. Dani falls to her knees to see her lover's bloody and swollen face. Pulling Jesse's unconscious body into her lap, she cries uncontrollably. Don't you leave me. Don't you fucking leave me. I know you can hear me Jesse. Please, I love you. I need you. Artemis comes and lays her head on Jesse's lap. Those nearby hear her low howl.

The paramedics come with a gurney to take the injured parties. The police begin asking questions to Miguel and the man with him.

******

Green eyes flutter open to the bright lights in the white room. The heart monitor beeps normally. She lifts her head from the edge of the mattress where she fell asleep in the chair. The nurse smiles briefly at her then resumes changing the IV bag. Dani rubs her face with her hands, and asks, "What time does the cafeteria close?"

"At 7pm." The young nurse replies and walks out.

Dani traces her index finger softly over the injured woman's still face. She avoids going near the stitches above Jesse's temple and the ones along her jaw line up to her left ear.

The doctor walks in. "She's a strong one." The middle-aged man says.

"Is she going to be alright?" Dani asks with tears welling up in her eyes.

"I believe she will. She was fighting to be here, you know? While we were fixing her, her weakened heartbeat suddenly shot up. I take it there's something…or…someone important she doesn't want to leave."

He crosses his arms in front of his chest and casually taps his index finger on his mouth. Soft brown eyes look at her with gentleness. He smiles from the love clearly visible between these two. He then says, "As you can see, she has a broken leg, broken arm, and a concussion. We were able to get the bits of glass out of her face and scalp. The stitches above her temple may leave a light scar. The gash was deep and she lost a lot of blood. Her arm has three breaks in it. Both the radius and ulna near her elbow are affected. I'm guessing a baseball bat or something similar used with great force did that. There is only one clean break in her leg affecting the femur bone. We reset her broken nose. She'll look like a raccoon for about a week."

Dani holds the sleeping woman's hand. "Thank you for helping her."

"It's my job." He touches her shoulder. "I'm sure you'll take good care of her from here."

She looks up at him and nods.

"I'll come by later to check on her." He walks out.

Blue eyes open very slowly to small slits. The brightness of the room is stinging to her eyes. There is no way she could open them further especially with the terrible pounding in her head. She sees blonde hair. Dani is looking out the window at the sky. Hi Beautiful.

Dani shoots her lover a glance. "Oh my god, you're awake." A tear rolls down her cheek. "I've been so worried." She chokes on her emotions.

"Shh, s’okay… I'm here." Jesse says in a raspy voice. She wipes at the young woman's tears with the thumb of her good left hand.

Dani takes the hand showering kisses on the palm.

"Can I…have…water?"

"Yes." She pours a cupful of the icy water. Bringing the straw up to Jesse's lips, she holds the cup for her.

There is a knock on the door.

"Come in," Dani calls over her shoulder.

In walk Miguel, John, and a police officer.

"Hey Boss. Girl, you look like shit." Miguel chimes in.

"You don't look so pretty either." Answers Jesse. Miguel sports a head bandage and an awful black eye and bruising on the right side of his face.

John interrupts. "We're here hoping to get the whole story since the three of us each played a part in it." He sits down in a chair on the other side of Jesse. "How ya doin Doc?"

"I've been better, John."

He pats her shoulder. "Ya think yer up for talking?"

"Yeah," she responds.

"Alright, Miguel you start."

Miguel scratches at his nose a moment, then starts, "Well, I was in the back room examining a specimen that Boss brought in to me. I was looking into the microscope and taking notes. I didn't give it a second thought when the door opened. Oh, you know what? I had just come from being in the yard with one of the puppies because he had to go bad. I can only guess that the stranger followed me in through the yard door, I mean 'emergency exit'. So, anyway, this shadow came up behind me and I thought it was the Boss. As soon as I turned, I realized it wasn't and everything went black."

"Doc? I take it you came in next?" asks John in his gruff voice.

Jesse nods. "I went to the back room to see if Miguel had any results. As soon as I got to the door, I smelled gasoline. I walked in and noticed the lights were off. I called out to Miguel and didn't get any answer. The gasoline smell was stronger now. I went over by the work counter and saw Miguel slumped on the floor. At that moment everything went black. I don't know how long I was out; it couldn't have been long because when I opened my eyes, I saw the figure with the can of gasoline. He walked up and started talking to me."

"Uh, Miss Chandler?" interrupts the officer. "Can you identify this man?"

She looks over at Dani who is still holding her hand. Jesse squeezes it. "Yeah…he…was the guy that attacked Dani in Michigan. We pressed charges against him. I don't know his name. All I know is that he was a new cook at the hotel. When the owner found out what happened to us, he fired the cook immediately and assured us he wouldn't find another job in the state. Anyway, he was informing me of all the things he was going to do to Dani and I just snapped. I punched him. He tried to hit me back but I ducked and got him in the balls. Since he was on the floor, I attempted to get to the door. He tripped me, got me by the neck and smashed my head into one of the glass cabinets. He stumbled off to torch the place. As soon as I was able to clear my head a bit, I saw the flames. The animals back there were starting to get frantic in the crates. I struggled to open all the crate doors to get them out, and then went back towards the main door. As soon as I grabbed the handle, he got me in the arm with something and then in the leg. A baseball bat, maybe. I got so dizzy from the pain and I guess the injuries to my head that I couldn't see straight. I do remember though, the door opening suddenly and two dogs barking and running in. Then it all went black."

Dani's tears are unstoppable. She couldn't believe that bastard found Jesse. It was his fault that his life was ruined, not Jesse's. She wanted to just choke him with her bare hands.

"Alright, here is where I come in." John chimes in. "I was in the front of the clinic with Charlie, my bloodhound. We're getting ready to leave when Artemis, that's Jesse's German Shepherd, began barking ferociously towards the end of the hall. She bounded to the back room and just started scratching with all her might at the door. My Charlie perked up quick and immediately followed Artemis, he always had a thing for her, anyway both of them are barking and scratching like the devil is on their tail. Janice, that's the receptionist, and I look down the hall wondering about the commotion and we see smoke coming out from under the door. She goes to call the fire department and I jog down the hall. I decide to prop open the emergency exit door for an easy escape. Upon opening the back room door, both dogs dash inside. The other animals in the room came running out and into the yard. I see the man, and I see Artemis jump up at the man's chest. My Charlie runs up to the guy too, growling like I've never seen him do before. I see Doc lying there half behind the door, so I grab her by the shoulders of her shirt and coat and drag her out into the yard. Going back in, I see two other dogs whimpering and struggling with something by the counter where the flames were getting the hottest. It was Miguel that they were trying to pull across the floor. I got down on all fours, reached out, and grabbed him by the foot dragging him out to the yard also. Finally went back in a third time for the other guy. I couldn't see what condition he was in because of all the smoke and flames so I just pulled him by the arm. Once outside I rolled him over and saw all the blood covering the front of his body. I figured he was gone. I tried to get to Doc, but the dogs wouldn't let me. They were protecting her from anything coming near. They were all growling and getting ferocious with me. Only my Charlie came near, so we went to check on Miguel. That's when the cops and ambulance came."

The officer finishes taking his notes. Looking up, he takes a moment to eye each person in the room. He rubs the back of his neck and lets out a huge sigh. "When the paramedics got to that man, he was already dead. His jugular vein was torn open and his penis…well…it was…merely hanging by a thread."

John gave a loud clap that made everyone jump. "Hot damn, you mean ta say my Charlie took off that man's nuts? And Artemis got his neck? Whew! We got ourselves some dogs, eh?" He nudges to Jesse.

"Apparently this was all in self-defense. I appreciate the testimony from each of you. Good day." The officer walks out.

Fresh tears roll down Dani's face. She buries her face into Jesse's neck. The testimonies made her realize how close she had almost lost her Soul. Jesse brings her good hand over the young blonde's head to run her fingers through silky hair.

"Boss, we're gonna get going, okay?" Miguel turns to Mr. Hoffman.

"Wait," Jesse says in a raspy voice. "How much damage is there to the clinic?"

Miguel scratches the back of his neck. Trying to think of how to tell his boss, he looks out the window in silence.

"John…you tell me." Her eyes are pleading with him.

He harrumphs, and then says, "The back half of the clinic is gone. The only thing left is the front exam room, reception area, and your office."

A tear threatens to spill over. "What about the animals?"

"All of them got out. A Persian with a leg cast was slightly burned but nothing too serious. Apparently Charlie picked her up to help her out. They are with their respective owners. Janice took care to all of that, and she also is caring for Artemis." He gives her a toothy smile.

"Thank you."

"We'll be going now," John says. "Come on Miguel." They walk out. In the hallway, John asks, "Hey, how come you call her Boss?"

Miguel looks at him with a furrowed brow. "She is my boss, right?"

"Yeah, she is." Responds John.

"Okay, so why do you call her Doc?"

John busts out with laughter. "Okay, okay you got me." He claps a hand over the Latino's shoulder.

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

"Why don't you go home and get some rest?" Jesse gently asks her lover.

"No. I'm staying right here," she says in an almost frog like voice. She cannot make herself to stop crying long enough. Blowing her nose for the umpteenth time that day, she tosses the tissue in the garbage can and says, "I heard you."

Jesse looks at her silently with wonder.

"I heard you call my name. I know what you said before I found you." The tears cascade down her face once again. "It was such a horrendous feeling in my heart. Like something was ripping it in two. I clutched at my chest knowing something was terribly wrong."

"I heard you too Sweetie. I know I heard you speak to my heart, begging me not to leave you. I knew I had to fight."

Dani sobs harder, squeezing the hand she is holding.

"Baby girl, lie with me." She pats the mattress.

"No, I don't want you to be in any more pain."

"I don't care. I want to feel you." Blue eyes lock with emerald green. "I want you to feel me right here with you."

Dani climbs up and lays her head on the tall woman's good shoulder. Bodies are pressed up against each other. With the exhaustion of the past couple of hours, they both fall to sleep.

******

Three days in the hospital was too long for Jesse. Looking out her window, she can hardly wait for Dani to come and bring her home. She swings her legs off the bed, wondering if she can at least stand on her own. Putting all her weight on her left leg, she tries to straighten up.

"What do you think you're doing?" Dani asks, standing in the doorway with a wheelchair.

Falling back onto the mattress, Jesse responds. "Nothing."

"Uh huh." She places the backpack on the bed next to the tall woman. "I brought some clothes since I didn't think you'd want to leave the hospital in your beautiful gown."

"Ha ha." Jesse shuffles through the bag. Navy blue cotton shorts and a black T-shirt. She smiles. You sure know what to get.

"Let me help you put them on." Dani kneels in front of her holding up the shorts.

Once clothed, Jesse reluctantly sits in the wheelchair.

The doctor walks in. "Ahh, I see my patient is ready to leave. You come back in six weeks and we'll remove the cast. And you make sure you behave." Smiling, he shakes his index finger at Jesse. "Don't give this young lady any trouble like you did to these nurses."

"I won't." They shake hands.

******

At home, Jesse plops down on the couch. Her leg encased in the plaster cast rests on the coffee table. She lays the crutches at the end table. Artemis comes barreling through the house sensing her mother is home. The young dog barks happily, tail wagging side to side. Jesse grabs her by the head to scratch her ears and neck. "Hi Arty. How's my girl? You've been a good girl? I bet you have." Artemis hops up with her front paws onto Jesse's lap and begins licking her face.

"I'm going to make some lunch. Are you hungry?" Dani asks from the kitchen.

"Yes." She flips through the TV channels with the remote. Artemis lies next to her with her head on a naked foot.

As the Crocodile Hunter comes to a close, Dani walks in with lunch. Sitting down next her lover she places the plate on her lap. "Turkey and Swiss sandwiches on wheat with all the fixings just the way you like it, and pasta salad."

"Thank you." She takes a large bite of the sandwich. "Hmm. Wonderful. So much better than anything they could come up with in the hospital." The dark woman leans over and gives the young blonde a kiss on the cheek. "Will you take me later to the clinic?"

Dani hesitates in answering.

"Please. I want to see the damage for myself and start making some calls to get it rebuilt. I don't want to waste anytime."

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byAlex the Cat© 31 comments/ 212990 views/ 121 favorites

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