Empathy is a choice, and it’s a vulnerable choice. In order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling. Brene Brown
“Make a lap.”
“Oh, you want a lap do you?”
Brett Hogan sat his book aside and picked up his six-year-old daughter, Emily, and plopped her in his lap. He danced his fingers along her sides. “You must want tickles.”
Emily shrieked and kicked her legs with abandon. “Stop it! Stop it!”
After a few more seconds, Brett stopped. He held her as she caught her breath. “So, what does one of the prettiest girls in the world want?”
“I have a question.”
“I was talking to Sara at school. She only has a mommy. How come I have a daddy and two mommies?”
It’s not like I didn’t know this was coming. “Hmm, that’s a good question. Let me think a moment.”
Melody put her hand behind Freya’s head and deepened the kiss. Holy Shit! Brett’s jaw dropped as Freya initiated the second phase. When the kiss broke Freya fanned her face with her hand.”Whew.”
Melody beamed up at her and licked her lips. “Strawberry chapstick, nice. Stay here while I go get the camera so we can take pictures of you meeting your niece for the first time.”
Brett waited until Melody left the hallway. “Sweetie, don’t start the car unless you’re willing to drive because she will sink her teeth into you if you let her.”
“Are you talking about me?”
“Just giving Freya fair warning.”
Melody stuck her tongue out. “Spoilsport. Go get Emily while I get Freya set up in the front room.”
When Brett entered the living room, Freya was sitting in a hard-backed chair with her back to him. Melody was standing in front of her with the camera.
“Freya, this is your niece Emily Hogan.”
“Aw, She’s so small.” She gathered her into her arms and kissed her forehead. “Hi, I’m your aunt Freya.”
Brett stood with his hand on Freya’s shoulder as Melody snapped pictures.
“Would you like to feed her while I finish dinner?”
“Brett, would you get her bottle? It’s on the counter. I want to get some more pics.”
Later that night, he stepped out of the bathroom after showering and nearly collided with Freya. “Sorry, I thought you were asleep.”
“I have some jet lag. What’s this?” Freya tapped a large bear paw tattoo over his heart.
“I got it a few months after you left. Besides Melody and the tattoo guy you are the only person to ever see it.”
Freya blushed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry.”
“Don’t be silly. I trust you. You can always ask me anything. If I weren’t willing for you to see it, I’d have a shirt on.”
“What’s it mean?”
“I had an experience. I met Bear and this,” He tapped the tattoo, “means we walk together.”
Freya arched an eyebrow.
“Remember, I told you my friend Brian was helping me after Deirdra left.”
“The one who was always giving you books?”
Brett nodded. “He taught me a better way of living. I became a warrior and for me, this is part of it.”
“Here, let me show you something.” Brett took Freya’s hand and led her to the next room. “This is my office. Feel free to use it if I’m not busy. He pointed to a table in the corner that held candles, a small cactus, a few rocks, and incense. Across the front of them lay a deerskin bag. A small white pillow sat on the floor in front of it. “This is where I meditate, feel free to use it too. I do ask that you leave the bag alone. I’m happy to show you what’s in it. But, I don’t like others touching it without my express permission.”
“No problem. I’m not sure I understand, though.”
“In short, It means I’ve learned to be responsible for myself and the effect I have on the world.” He stepped close to her. “For example, When you refused to marry me. It hurt, but, it was okay. Do you know why?”
“Because I knew it was much more important that you, my best friend, were still my best friend and that you felt cherished by me. Having that made me able to deal with my disappointment.”
Freya hugged him. “Thank you.” She broke the hug. “Now, take your hot ass to bed before we get in trouble, Mr. I’m wearing nothing but a towel.”
Brett laughed. “Ok. But, just so you know, Melody gave us permission in writing. Want to see it?”
“Aargh, go to bed!”
A couple of nights later, Freya was feeding Emily as she talked with Brett and Melody.
Melody spoke. “Do you know that on our first date Brett told me and I quote: “If I get married my priorities will be my wife, my kids, and then her, in that order.” Unquote.” Melody pointed to herself, the baby, and Freya as she spoke.
Freya’s jaw dropped.”You told her that on your first date?”
Brett nodded. “It was true then and it’s true now. I told her because I don’t play games and I wasn’t going to waste time on somebody who wouldn’t accept our friendship.”
Freya dropped her eyes. “You humble me.” She whispered.
“Oh, don’t worry. I laid something on him too.” Melody blushed. “If you didn’t notice your first night here. I, uh, like girls.” She gulped and straightened her shoulders. “So, I told him that he had to accept that time to time I’m going to play.”
Freya laughed. “You guys are so bad. Oops, Em’s finished her bottle.”
Melody jumped up. “I’ll get her.” As she leaned over to take Emily from Freya, she gave the woman a quick kiss on the lips and sauntered away.
Freya sat there, her eyes wide.
Brett laughed. “I told you. She’ll sink her teeth into you if you let her.”
Melody’s voice came from the nursery. “I heard that.”
“If you’re not interested, tell her and she’ll stop.”
“Wait, You wouldn’t care?”
Brett pulled a worn piece of folded paper from his wallet and tossed it into Freya’s lap. “Read it.”
Freya opened the paper.
I, Melody Lynn Evanston give my permission to Brett Hogan to have a sexual relationship of any duration, at any time(s) of their choosing with and only with Freya Reynolds.
“I wrote it.”
Brett tapped the paper. “Look at the date.”
“It’s ... it’s the day before I moved home.”
Melody came in and knelt beside Freya. “I didn’t know you would be gone for two years. I saw how much you care for each other. How could I take that away? He accepts that I need my sweet lady kisses and I accept that he needs you. Speaking of sweet lady kisses, I know I can be tenacious. If I have offended you or made you uncomfortable. I’m sorry and I’ll stop.”
Freya stared at Melody for a long moment, then smiled. She grasped Melody’s head and pulled her into a hard kiss.
Holy Fuck! Am I dreaming? Brett sat forward.
Melody pushed herself up and onto Freya, covering her with her body. Freya shifted on the couch and pulled Melody down onto her. She moaned as Melody ground against her. “Oh, Fuck!” She whined as her body shook. Melody laughed and pushed herself up. “Somebody on a short fuse, sweetie?”
“Yes! Now, get back down here and finish what you started.”
Melody smirked. “It looks like I’ll be busy tonight.”
“I’ll leave you ladies to get better acquainted.” He kissed Melody. “Love you.”
“Love you, too.”
He kissed Freya.
She opened the kiss, slipping a hint of tongue into his mouth before retreating. He touched the tip of her nose. “I love you, too.”
She smiled. “I love you. Go away.”
He licked his lips.”You know, that strawberry chapstick does taste good.”
Melody laughed and goosed him as he turned to leave.
“I’ll take Em watch tonight.” He stopped by the towel closet. I know what I’m jacking off to.
Brett knocked on Freya’s bedroom door. “Breakfast in ten. Hurry or I’ll throw it out.”
He was putting bacon on the plates when Freya walked in.
“Good morning, did you sleep well?”
Freya smiled. “Not a fucking wink. Melody will be here in a second. She wanted to check on Emily.”
Brett chuckled. “Good, I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. Is that a bite mark?”
Freya blushed and ducked her eyes.
“You should see the ones she left on me.”
“Oh, I plan to right after breakfast. Eat wench. You’ll need the energy.”
“Is that so?”
Brett nodded evilly with a big grin on his face.
“See what I put up with. Do you want to help me with this brute? Between the two of us, he wouldn’t stand a chance.”
Freya’s eyes popped wide open. She took a bite of food.
“No worries, just know that you’re invited whenever, wherever.
Three hours later, they walked into the indoor flea market. Brett stopped. “There’s something calling me.” He waited. His head snapped to the left. “This way.” He took off. Halfway through the market, he stopped, tilted his head and sniffed the air. He spun on his heel and went down an aisle.
He stopped at a decrepit, overstocked booth and pointed. “What’s in that box?”
“May I look?”
The old man placed it on the counter.
.... There is more of this story ...