The Best of Friends Ch. 05byCocoa Sashimi©
Talk about total writer's block. Cat was being uncooperative. What a shock!
Scrambling out from under Craig before Cat had a chance to start yelling again, Keely seized her discarded clothes from the floor on her way to the bathroom. The reality of what had transpired in the last few minutes overwhelmed her with guilt as she lowered herself on tub's side. Never once in her life had she ever overstepped the boundaries of anyone's relationship, and to do so now with her best friend filled her with an intense shame and confusion.
Her confusion was due to the fact that, for a moment, Keely had seriously considered ignoring the woman and continuing. She hadn't wanted to break her connection with Craig. Her trembling hand pressed against her swollen lips as she thought of how his kisses had sent her emotions and body into orbit, and how, begrudgingly, she was brought back to Earth by Cat's voice. A voice Keely could still hear through the door.
"You lying son of a bitch! I knew you two weren't just friends! How long have you been fucking that whore?" spewed Cat from the other side.
Keely couldn't hear Craig's response. It didn't matter anyway. Both of their answers would be identical: this was the first and only time. She knew no matter what either of them said Cat would never believe them nor trust them.
"Oh God," she groaned placing her head into her hands. "Cat's never going to let me be around Craig."
"I don't think that is going to stop Craig, hon."
Keely's gaze swept up to see Darbie's tall form leaning in the doorway that led into Craig's room. She was startled at first, at the tall redhead's sudden presence. Then she remembered that even as kids when she hid in this bathroom, Darb had always found her because she always forgot to lock the bathroom's other door.
"You came when you heard the yelling, huh?"
"Actually, no; I showed Cat to Craig's room. When she didn't find him there, she knocked on your door. I was in the middle of telling her that you were napping when she barged in, which just proves she has bad manners."
"Only you would think to mention someone's manners during a time like this." Keely sighed. "Oh God. She's going to think you were trying to cover up for us."
"Cat can believe whatever she wants. Not like anyone can tell that woman otherwise. Do I really look like I'm worried?" Pushing off the door frame, Darb perched herself on the edge of the tub nudging Keely with her shoulder.
Keely shot Darb a rueful smile. "Nope, you never are."
"You shouldn't be either. Now are you going to explain how this," Darbie gestured to the door, "all started?"
Darbie listened as Keely briefed her on the events that had just transpired.
"So, where do you stand?"
Throwing a sidelong glance at her friend, Keely said, "Clarify."
"Where do you stand emotionally?"
"I'm not going to argue with you. Instead, let me ask you a few questions, and I want you to answer without analyzing them."
Turning, Darb assessed her friend. "What will you feel if Cat forgives Craig and they work things out?"
"Because I won't see him anymore. He makes me laugh, he balances me out, and we enjoy so many of the same things. I feel happy when he's around and empty when he isn't around. I don't know. I just enjoy his company." She shrugged.
"Keely, hon, doesn't that sound like love to you?"
She took one look at Darb and started to cry. "Oh shit."
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," thought Craig as he faced Cat.
As Cat was screaming at him, his thoughts wandered. When she had burst in on him and Keely, he initially thought his worst nightmare had come to fruition. This wasn't it by any means. His worst had begun when his flakey brother had started to date Keely eleven years ago. It then evolved to an absolute horror when she had accepted Paul's proposal and actually married him.
Until now, Craig attributed all his antipathy towards their relationship to the fact that his brother was flighty with women, and he simply didn't want to be left to blame because of Paul's screw-ups. Never once did he contemplate that his negative feelings were due to the emotions he felt towards Keely, the emotions he had ignored until their kiss.
The furrow in his brow deepened as he thought.
"Trying to figure out a plausible explanation?" sneered Cat
His train of thought completely derailed at the sharp sound of Cat's voice. Even though he was conscious of her being in the room, he had blocked her out while exploring his feelings about Keely. All he could manage to do was stammer, "What?"
"I don't believe this! Where the hell did you drift off to? Wait. Are you thinking about her?"
Being the honest man that he was, Craig didn't even think to lie even though it would probably grant him some leniency from her tirade. "Yeah, I was."
With one finger poised in mid-air and the other firmly planted on her hip, Cat was thrown for a loop. He could tell by the look on her face that she wasn't expecting him to be honest. Who could blame her? Most men in his situation would probably eke out some weak excuse.
Cat's blue eyes narrowed and darkened. Her arms came down to her sides, and she held him with an assessing stare. Slowly, she strutted towards him. Craig knew this move well. She always assumed it when she was angry. Long ago, he had found it both sexy and thrilling because it always meant they would have the best make-up sex. Now, the allure was utterly gone.
"You have your goddamn nerve," she hissed as she poked him pointedly in the chest with her finger. "How long have you two been fucking?"
Staring down at her, Craig asked, "Does it really matter what I say to you? You're not going to believe me, are you?"
Despite knowing that Cat wouldn't accept the truth, he resigned himself to at least try to tell her the truth. Looking down at her, he braced himself for the tirade he knew would come as he said, "This was the first time. I've never kissed Keely until today let alone done anything else."
Never breaking eye contact with Craig, Cat circled around him and jiggled the handle on the door. When the door didn't open, she thumped it hard with her fist several times then walked towards the nightstand.
To Craig's shock, it wasn't Keely who opened the door.
"Yes?" said Darbie as her head poked out from behind the edge of the door.
Cat's ire turned to Darbie. "Get Keely out here," snapped Cat. "Now!" As Darbie ducked her head behind the door, Cat thought she heard the statuesque woman say something about manners. "Fuck her," thought Cat.
"I'm here," a completely clothed Keely uttered quietly as she entered the room with Darbie following behind. She had entered with her head down in total shame, but her eyes rose to meet Cat's cold stare.
Before Craig had a chance to intervene and stop Cat from starting what he knew was going to be a tongue-lashing, she started in.
"I have one thing to say to both of you." Cat pointed to Keely and her words dripped malice. "You are a fucking whore. I wouldn't be surprised if you cheated on Paul instead of the other way around."
"Hey," barked Craig in an attempt to stop Keely from being subjected to further humiliation.
Cat spun to face him and pointed, "Of course you're going to defend her! You're fucking her, you two-timing bastard! We're through!"
With that, she grabbed one of the framed pictures that Keely's mother had displayed on the nightstand. With all the force she could muster, she launched it at Craig. "I fucking hate you!" Luckily, he had never taken his eyes of her and anticipated her move; he ducked just in time. The sound of shattering glass filled the room as Cat stormed out of the room.
Darbie's gaze passed between Keely and Craig. "I think you two need to discuss this." With that she followed Cat to make sure the she didn't break anything else along her way out.
Craig's heart plummeted when he saw Keely move toward the bathroom door. "Great," he thought, "she's going to hide in there." However, she returned with a wastebasket and devoted herself to picking up the glass shards.
She refused to meet his gaze or answer him. Instead she fixated on the task in front of her. Her fingers worked quickly and nimbly to move several shards to the trash.
"You're not going to retreat from me," he rasped as he grabbed around her wrist to still her frenetic cleaning.
It was all too much for Keely. Not only had she overstepped the bounds of their friendship, she had just destroyed his relationship and come to the startling realization that she loved her best friend. A strangled whisper left her body as she tried to free herself from his grasp. "What else am I supposed to do? I caused this." With her free hand, she reached for the photo that had slipped facedown when the frame broke.
"Keely, you didn't ruin anything that wasn't already in great need of repair. In fact, I think what happened here was meant to be. It's given me perspective."
"Perspective on what?" asked Keely while flipping the photo over to see which one needed to be replaced. She studied it more intently than she normally would have since she was looking for anything that would keep her from meeting Craig's eyes. Not surprisingly, Cat had chosen to throw the photo of her and Craig dancing, her head tilted back with laughter over something funny he had said, on her wedding day.
His finger came to rest on the photo, but she refused to look up at him. When a response wasn't forthcoming she asked again, "Perspective on what?"
"On these two people and where they want their relationship to go from here." He tapped their images in the photo.
Exasperated, Keely dropped the photo and stood. At that moment, she wanted to seize him in her arms and never let go. However, she'd been in Cat's shoes and as much as she abhorred the woman, Keely knew that Craig had to deal with that aspect of his life first.
"We're not going anywhere from here. It was a mistake; one that should have never happened. It's caused too much damage. Did you not notice what just happened here, Craig?"
Quickly rising and stepping over the glass to stand over her, Craig just scrutinized her face without responding to her. Sensing something had just changed between them, Keely stilled. Then for reasons she didn't clearly understand, she became angry. Jutting out her chin, eyes narrowing at him, she demanded, "What?"
Before she had a chance to react, Craig's hands were cradling her head. His thumbs slowly caressed her cheeks as his lips sought hers. Unlike the first kisses they had shared, this was forceful and demanding. He ensnared Keely's bottom lip between his and sucked. A whimper escaped her lips. Seizing the opportunity, he deepened their kiss while slowly walking her back towards the wall behind her.
At first, thinking was beyond her. All she could do was feel. Awareness of anything else was slowly slipping away. Craig completely filled her senses. His intoxicating woodsy scent, the velvety feel of his lips, and the sheer strength of his body was overwhelming. As she bumped into the wall, she thought, "I wish this could last forever." The thought was so jarring that she tensed up.
"Don't think; just go with what you feel. You feel it as strongly as I do. I love -" whispered Craig as he leaned his head back to study her.
Not giving him a chance to reply, Keely pushed him away. "Don't you even think of saying that to me."
"Why the hell not? You feel it as much as I do. Don't try denying it."
"You're confusing sexual tension with love."
"I think I'm old enough to know the difference."
"Yeah then why did you propose to Cat?"
Dumbfounded, Craig stared at Keely. It was a low blow, but Keely needed something that would stop him. She wasn't about to let him admit he may have strong feelings for her. Her own emotions were bad enough.
"You need to figure out where you stand with her."
He stared at her as he grumbled, "As you are well aware, Cat plainly stated her feelings on the whole matter. Wait a minute? Are you thinking this is my way of recovering from a break-up?"
"What would it seem like if the roles were reversed?"
"Damn it, Keely. This isn't some damn rebound fling. I really do love –"
"Stop it!" she roared. She didn't have the emotional fortitude to listen to him utter those three magic words. At least not so soon after he and Cat had broke up. She was a big believer in closure. If she was going to accept and act on her love for Craig, she wanted it to be sure that he was completely over Cat.
"What do you want me to do? How can I prove that I, well, I can't say it now, can I?"
"I'm not going to be your recovery tool for a bad break-up especially since I'm the one who caused it. As much as I hate to say this, you need to make sure you and Cat are completely over before you attempt to profess your love for me. You never know, she may want you back when she cools off. Some women forgive men over this."
"Craig, I'm not going to change my mind. You need to take Darbie and Alan's car down into the city and check on her in the morning. Goodnight." Grabbing her toiletry case from the bureau, she walked to the door.
Craig was left standing in Keely's room wondering what to do.