"Why are you leaving so soon? I got a whole lot of this right here waitin' Sugar. So come on back up here," Phil said to Susan.
"Look Darlin' you know I can't. I got to do this for a while longer. You know what's riding on it. Everything we could ever want. I almost got this deal done. Then we can do this til we can't walk. I thought you understood this?" Susan said as she bent down and kissed him. She pulled at his lower lip with her teeth and then let go and gave him a wicked little grin.
"Okay, but I ain't at all happy. I love you ya know. I want you here with me all the time. I can't stand the thought of you being with her."
"I know. I love you too. But you know the rules. So, I will see you later. Alright? Plus, you can't be hangin around here. If someone recognizes you we're both done."
"Yeah, I know. So I will see you again when?" he asked.
"I don't know. I'll call you and tell you when alright?"
"What about the Mom? She still can't remember nothing?"
"No, lucky for us too. I still can't believe she survived that crash," Susan said.
"Yeah, no joke. I saw it, so if you think you're surprised how do ya think I feel?"
"I know. It wasn't your fault. Anyway I got to go. Baby gonna want her bottle soon so." She bent down again, kissed him and walked out the house.
She got to the car and sat down. She took out her cell phone and dialed a number.
"Hey Baby. You miss me."
"You know I do. When will I see you again?"
"How about tonight? My place say eightish?"
"Yeah? I'll be there. Did you get what you needed by the way?"
"Oh yeah. I got right here," Susan said as she pulled the gun out of her purse. "I got everything I need. Now you just get on down here and do what you need to do. Phil's got it bad for me and we need to take care of this and quick."
"So, you leaving there now?"
"I can't stand the thought of you sleeping with him. I hate it."
"Well we don't need to much worry about that for long now do we? You get up here take care of Phil and the rest will work itself out."
She drove the one and a half hour drive out to Tara's ranch. She had called a dozen times or so just to make sure no one was there. She pulled into the driveway and took a walk up toward the house. She slipped her gloves on and reached into her purse and took the keys to Tara's house out and let herself in. She headed up the stairs and into Tara's room.
She set her purse down and took a screwdriver out from it. She grabbed the chair and pulled it up against the wall. She stood on it a began to unscrew the the vent cover. She removed it and placed the gun inside. She then put the cover back on. She stepped down and pulled the chair back over to where it had been originally, turned and left the room.
She then went into the kitchen and disconnected the caller ID box and replaced it with a new one of the very same make and model.
"Now all we need to do is sit and wait," she smiled to herself as she left the house.
Once outside she took a different cell phone out of her purse and made a call to Tara's house.
"Tara, the van is here," Tara's father called in to her.
"Okay, thanks," Tara said as she got up from the bed and headed down toward the front door.
"So I hope that maybe you'll go out and ride now, maybe. You have to do something other then lay there in your bed. It's been a month Tara, and, well, I don't see anything getting any better."
Tara's father was worried. Very worried. Tara had done nothing in the month she had been here and if he hadn't called for the pick up of the horses, they would still not be here. This, more than anything, disturbed him. Tara loved Maverick and Juju and to just leave them to be taken care of by a friend was unthinkable.
"I wish you would just drop this dad. I already told you I'm fine."
"Fine? Do you know what FINE stands for?"
"Oh come on dad. Please don't start throwing this crap at me. I really don't need it or want it."
"Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotianal. That, Tara, is your FINE at this point."
"I knew it. I knew you were going to start this again. You want to know what I think dad? I think you stupid little twelve-step acronyms are completely stupid and irratating. If you don't want me here just say it and I'm gone. I've done it before and I was just fine surviving without you," Tara spat at her father, her words laced with anger and bitterness.
"What the hell is wrong with you Tara? Why can't anyone talk to you without being insulted or shot down? No-one here wants to hurt you. We just want to help you. This is unhealthy, Tara. Very unhealthy. Tell me, how much weight have you lost this month? Ten, fifteen? You have dark circles under your eyes that are so dark you look like a raccoon."
"I'm fine dad. I'm just tired. I have a lot on my mind. I'm sorry. I can't do this right now."
She walked out the door and headed toward the trailer.
She got to the trailer and when her horses saw her they immediately responded. Tara smiled. For the first time in a very long time she had smiled. She pulled the gate down and took Maverick down the ramp and toward the barn area. She was about half way down when she turned and saw Donnie heading toward her.
"Hey sis. Looky here. Haha, damn this little guy sure did grow didn't he?" Donnie smiled as he scratched at Mav's nose.
"Hey Donnie. Yes he has. He got very big indeed," she smiled as she looked at her horse.
"Hey, I got an idea Tara ,why don't I go and get Ju out the trailer, we saddle up and take out the back fifteen? I got the kites up and we could do a little dog fightin' like the old days."
"Oh... Please tell me you're not still doing the kite thing?" Tara smiled at her brother.
"Of course I am. I just said I had 'em up so using brilliant logical deduction I think it is safe to say, yes, I still do my kite thing." He chuckled a little.
"And you are still a wise ass also. You know, that actually sounds good. I think I'm going to go up, make some lunch, get dad to join us and we can make it a regular picnic." Tara smiled now. She loved her family and she had felt terrible about the way she'd treated her dad earlier on. She went inside and found her dad.
"Hey daddy, Donnie and I are going to go up the property and take the horses out for a bit. Donnie has the kites up and well, you want to come with us?" she asked smiling.
"That, Tara, is the best idea I've heard in a very long time." He walked over and gave her a hug.
"Look, I know this is hard honey, but I promise, it will get better. We just need to get past this painful part and you'll see. It will be okay."
Tara closed her eyes and fought the tears. Her father meant well, but she knew. She knew it would never be better for her. Not without her Willow.
"No, I can't. I won't. No more. I will not work with that... that women in there," said Ricardo, Willow's latest physical therapist.
"Look, I know Officer Rosenberg can be hard, but really, I think you two are making progress," said Dr.Phillips.
"Progress? What progress? I have been told today alone not only what I should do with my exercise program, smacked across my knees with her cane, told I'm a total flaming Juan and been thrown out of the room more than I've spent in. Where is the progress part? And not only that, I think it's ridiculous that everyone is so egg shell stepping around her. Officer is just a total... aaarrggg... look, I'm just done. Sorry."
"Look, please just give it one more week, please. And why are you offended by being called flamey? You are flamey and it's not a secret."
"It's the way she says it. It... ohhh God, she is just such a little bitch," he fumed.
"Look, I know. You're right, I'm sorry. If you don't want to do it any more I can't force you. It's just that... Well I don't have anyone left to work with her. I know she's is difficult but I know she should be walking by now and it's very frustrating to me. She just seems to not want to get better. I've spoken to her mother and she is a wonderful women. Why don't you talk with her a bit and see if you change your mind. Please?"
"No. I'm sorry. I can't. Good luck with her." He turned and left.
Sheila wheeled Willow up the steps and into the house. She put her purse down on the table and looked around. The place was spotless. Immaculate as a matter of fact and oddly this disturbed Sheila. It disturbed her because she knew why it was spotless.
"I don't like that therapist. I want a new one," Willow said to her mom.
"Well that is very easy and very hard all at the same time Willow. First reason being that he refuses to work with you either, so there's the easy, second comes the hard. Therey're no more PTs left at that will work for you, so there is the hard."
"I guess they can see what you are refusing to see then. I am never going to be back to the way I used to be. I can't do any more than this. I can't ever walk more then twelve steps and I will need this god damn thing," she threw the crutch across the room, "and I will always need these god damn bar railings around the house."
"Willow you have to help with this. You have to want to do this work or you'll never walk. That's not what you want and I know it. Please do a little work here," Shelia pleaded.
"What? What do you want from me? I'm doing all I can. I'm trying mom. It just isn't getting better. Why don't you believe me?" she said as she began to get shaky.
"Look at me Willow. You are most certainly not doing everything you can do. You are doing nothing. You don't want to do anything and you can't pretend with me. You're my daughter and I know you," Shelia said to Willow.
"Yeah and you're also a shrink. You're, above everything else, a psycho doctor and you think that every answer to every question is somewhere locked up in the brain. Can't anything ever just be what it is? Can't it just be that I am not ever going to be out of this chair? I've accepted it. Why don't you?" she screamed at her mother.
"Well first of all, Willow, because all the doctors and physical therapist that you have run off tell me the oppisite. They tell me you should be a lot farther off then you are. Walking with a cane while holding on to a guard rail is not as far as you should be. You should be able to walk across this room with that cane and you know it."
"STOP IT. STOP TELLING ME WHAT I SHOULD AND SHOULDN'T BE DOING!" Willow screamed at her mother.
"Hey, don't you dare scream at me. I am your mother and I am owed some respect. I don't care how old you are. To be honest with you you're acting like a five year old. I also have a very good idea as to why you don't want to walk. You don't want to walk because if you do, and Tara finds out and still doesn't come back, you'll know it's not the reason she left. It will be something else and you're not willing to face that again. But Willow, if this is how you are going to spend the rest of your life, angry, scared, pushing everyone away that wants to help you? Have fun but do it without me." Sheila was crying now. It hurt her to say these things but she knew not to would be even worse. "I won't watch this. I will not sit here and watch you throw your whole life away because you don't want to face what you think is the truth. If you don't have me Willow, you don't have anyone anymore."
"I have Millo, I have him and I have Susan. She has been a good friend to me which is more then I can say for you or Tara or any of those people I used to work with. So no-one? Sorry. That's not no-one," Willow said under her breath.
"Those people you used to work with have done nothing but try to help you. You have driven them away with you resentment and anger and rudeness. You've tried to do it to me. And Susan? You have Susan?" Sheila laughed. "You don't have Susan, honey. Susan has you and Susan is only here because she wants everything that you have again. And do you know what's worse? You're letting her. You're letting her take everything away from you because she plays right into your little plan of self-destruction. She wants you right here just as you are. If that's what you've chosen for yourself then have at it. Just don't ask me to sit here and watch," Shelia said crying even harder now.
"Are you done?" Willow asked without looking up.
"No. No I'm not. I may not have you convinced yet, I may not have been able to stop this mess yet, but I will. I will. Trust me when I say that that woman will not take everything from you again. I won't let her."
Just as she was about to leave Susan came in the door holding a bag of groceries in her arms.
"Hey Sheila. How are you?" she asked with saccharine sweetness.
"Oh please don't. Just save it Susan. Willow, I will do what I said. Beleive me." She stopped and looked at Susan..
She turned and left the house.
"What was all that about?" Susan asked.
"Nothing. Just the usual I'm not doing what I'm supposed to crap. So did you get my bottle?" Willow asked.
"Of course. Do you want a drink now?"
"Yes. Actually if you would just leave it right there and get me a glass of ice out of the kitchen I'll be fine."
"Okay Baby. No problem," Susan answered.
"God damn it. Don't call me that. I told you a hundred times. There is no fuckin' way we are ever going that way again so just stop it. Please."
"Sorry Willow, it just sort of slipped out. I'll get you your glass and then I'll go." Susan headed to the kitchen to retrieve Willow's shot glass and some ice in the bucket. Willow has been doing a lot of drinking of late. Far too much as a matter of fact. There was rarely a time of the day where she was not drunk or on her way to drunk. This was yet another stroke of luck, Susan thought. This was going to make it so much easier. She smiled to herself as she walked out and handed the glass of bourbon to Willow and set the bottle down on the table next to her.
"So, is that it then? Do you need anything else from me?" Susan asked.
"Yes actually. Could you let Millo in for me?"
She made her way outside and suddenly Millo stopped turned around, looked at Susan and sniffed. He then began to bark: "OOWWWOOIWWRROOW!"
"Hey what's wrong Millo?" Susan asked, a touch frightened now. The dog had never had this reaction to her and to be honest, she thought he might attack her. It was the way he was looking at her and sniffing.
"OOOWWWROOOWIIOOWW!" he said again.
Susan turned back toward the house and looked at Willow.
"Willow, why is he doing that to me?" she was shaking now.
Willow looked puzzled. It was strange. Millo was starting his dance and he only did that if he picked up something he felt was important or that he recognized, and not in a good way.
"I don't know. I don't. Come on boy. Come on in buddy," Willow called out.
Millo did as asked but his stare never left Susan. It was an icy cold stare that Willow had not seen from him in a very long time.
"I don't know Susan. I can't tell you."
"Well, I'm going now anyway. I'll check back tonight and if you need anything call me okay?" she said smiling at Willow.
"Okay. Oh and Susan?"
"Thanks. Thanks for helping me."
"Of course Willow. I will be here for you no matter what. I promise you. I love you, you know that right? I'm not asking you to feel the same but I want you to know it."
She then turned and left. Millo ran after her and began to bark furiously at her til she got into her car and drove off. Millo then ran to Willow sat at her feet and stared up at her and began to whimper.
"Hey, Millo buddy. What's wrong big guy?" she said as she began to scratch at his head.
He looked at her and stood up and began to lick her face.
"Stop that Millo," Willow said laughing.
He paid no attention. He continued his affectionate assault on the one person that he loved more in all this world. If he were able to tell Willow what he had just now picked up, she would know that the smell was the same as the one he had picked up that night.
That awful horrible night he had found his mama on the floor of the chewy food place. It terrified him and he would never allow this to happen to her again.