The Book Of Love, Part Two.

*P.S. I know this part's kinda confusing because I'm not really saying everything I should be… there are some characters whose names are specified. I think it'll become obvious who they are once you read it, but my friend - proofreader said she had trouble understanding who was who. She doesn't watch much "Ally"… and it shows :p*

"YOU?!" Ally asked in disbelief as she looked at him, then at the kid standing by his father's leg. "Yes…" he said quietly. Ally spun around on her heels and stared at Jen. "And - and… you?" she asked, her tone softer as not to scare the child. Jen stood silently. "Is… there a problem…?" she asked. Ally, not sure what she referred to as the problem, asked exactly that - "What do you believe to be the problem? You being married to Greg or me being in love with him?" At about that time, Greg was having major trouble picking his jaw up off the floor. "Oh no no no…" Jen tried to explain. "We're just engaged…" She smiled, and Ally looked at her, thoughts of the "Are YOU CUH-razy?" type circling in her very tired brain. "Ohhhh…" she growled, trying to sound nice. "BIG difference!!! That makes things a whole lot easier!" Jen, only now realizing what Ally's had said before, looked at her with both anger and disbelief. "You!" she jumped forward, trying to pounce on her, but Greg held her back. "Her!" David pointed at Ally, giggling. "OK, well that's great… 3 against 1. Your kid is a genius for 3, by the way…" Ally was dripping with sarcasm. "He's not mine…" Jen replied. "Oh." Ally sighed. "Greggie here must've been quite the ladies' man 3 years ago. About the time he left ME. Hmmmm…" Ally was obviously drunk, mad and incredibly jealous, and therefore her thoughts and actions were going a bit overboard. "You left me!" Greg protested. "I kissed! I didn't LEAVE. YOU left ME. To be with Kimba - Bimba." "Who?!" "OH! I'm sure she'll be happy to hear you don't remember her …" "What?!" Jenny interfered, trying to stop the two and sit down for a rational talk. "NOTHING!" Ally & Greg simultaneously snapped, and she sat down. Greg started the conversation again… "Ally…" "Kick her ass, Daddy!" David yelled, clapping his hands & seeming extremely pleased with himself. Greg stared at his child, once again dropping his jaw. "Must've spent a lot of time in his daddy's company…" Ally smirked, and Jen shot her a dirty look. "So…" Ally started. "I'll guess I'll see you… two… later…" she turned around and walked away.

Jen looked at Greg. For the first time in her life, she was speechless. Totally and completely. Greg stared at her for a long time, then finally spoke. "Why'd you have to lie?"

"Richard, Darwin James's meeting is tomorrow… do you have the papers?" An angry Cage stormed into Richard's office, almost bombing through the door. "Uh… no. John, I was thinking… maybe you could take the meeting?"
"Me?! Why me?! I can't do this alone!"
"You can do everything alone, John. You can run this firm alone. I'm just here for the women. They'd feel disparaged if I weren't here."
"Oh, and the act of un-disparaging them would be yours and yours alone, right?" Cage looked at him, awaiting a response.
"Uh, yes… I'm the only one."
"WHAT?!" Cage almost blew up. He was obviously troubled with something, yet he wasn't the kind of person to let it out.
"Well, Billy's dead & crazy, you're taken & crazy, Mark's gone & crazy. That leaves me."
"The SANE one."
Cage's nose let out a "phweet", and Richard stopped the conversation from going any further into that branch.
"Why do you want ME to take it?" Cage asked.
"Take what?" Nelle walked in, smiled at Cage and caught Richard's smile, though returned the latter with a cold glare. "Oh, the glare…" he said, and she ignored him.
"The case…" Cage explained.
"What case?" She asked.
"Were you listening to ANYTHING I said?"
"When?" she asked, looking at him with innocent eyes she knew he couldn't resist. He did, however, and looked at her angrily.
"OK, that does it! Richard, you're taking the case. Nelle, you're joining him."
"But-" Richard started.
"No buts. And no "why"s either… Why? Because I said so." He walked out of the office, leaving Nelle & Richard alone. Fish flashed her his best attempt at a seductive smile, but she frowned in response and left the office, disgusted. "Bygones…" Fish muttered under his breath.

It was raining. Raining hard. Gusts of wind swept up the raindrops and threw them at the pedestrians, or at least at those of them that were stupid enough to be out in this kind of weather without an umbrella to shield them. Some weren't stupid, though. They just didn't care about the weather. They didn't care about anything, really, other than the matters at hand. One of those pedestrians, ignoring the rain & wind, walked down a deserted street, trying to find the longest way to the hotel. She didn't want a taxi. She didn't want a bus. She didn't want any kind of transportation except her own two feet. This way, she could think…
Replaying in her head the events of the evening, she couldn't really come to any conclusion. The questions, circling in her whirlpool of a mind, were torturing her, tearing her heart to pieces… she wanted to lie down and just die. It was too much to handle for one evening. Why was Greg with Jen? Why didn't Jen tell her? Why wasn't SHE invited to the wedding? That wasn't the most important one, though… She tried to reason with herself, thinking of possible scenarios… maybe Jen was mad at her. Maybe she forgot. That was understandable - they didn't socialize much 3 years ago, especially living in different states, different regions. One thing she did notice, though, was that the questions all began with "why"… Never "who" or "what" or "when". Always "WHY". Choking in her tears, she looked up into the dark sky. "WHY?" she yelled out. She couldn't find an answer. She felt hate, utter hate for Jen… She always, always envisioned herself raising a child with the man of her dreams. Never could she imagine it would be her friend. "She not even that pretty!" Ally thought to herself, almost laughing. How ridiculous! She quickly stopped the laughter. Obviously, there were more important things to think about… She saw it as her own fault, thinking about the kiss, about everything that had happened before… which brought her to thoughts of Billy. Noting this, she stopped. As she looked ahead of her into the dark and rainy night, she saw his face. He smiled. She smiled back. Suddenly, all the tears were gone.

As she looked ahead of her into the dark and rainy night, she saw his face. He smiled. She smiled back. Suddenly, all the tears were gone. Somewhere, which seemed like a ocean away, behind her someone was sleeping. Inhale - exhale, inhale - exhale… she followed his breathing. She hoped to see his face, his smile, again. She was almost sure that when she's turn around, it would be him sleeping there, not someone else. In fact, she was so sure, she turned around and smiled, seeing him. Only for a second, though… Once the second had passed, she was slapped back to reality by the sight of the person - the WRONG person - in her bed…

They said it would get better. They said the nightmares would go away… which they did. Eventually. Sometimes, though, she thought if there were such things as "daymares". The nightmares had gone away, but the daymares stayed.

She walked quietly into the kitchen, turning on the light. Finding nothing of particular interest in the fridge, she turned off the disturbingly bright kitchen light and turned on a more peaceful one - a small lamp by the couch. She lay down and opened a book. "Who the hell am I kidding?" she thought, barely noticing what book she'd picked up. Not interested in finding out, she softened her grip on the book and let it fall to the floor. Afterwards, she gave in to tears…

Burying her face into her pillow, Ally lay there, sobbing. A knock on the door - obviously room service - wasn't greeted in the friendliest of ways; she snapped "Go away!" and a confused bellman just left the champagne she'd ordered by the door. Finally gathering enough strength to get up, she opened the door, picked up the champagne thinking "What kind of an idiot leaves Madame Cliquot in the hallway of a $150 per night hotel?" and slammed the door shut. Not bothering to get a glass, she opened the bottle and drank directly out of it.

She lay on her back, trying to gather her thoughts into something that at least made sense… she didn't succeed. Moreover, she just became more confused. She hadn't come here to see Greg. Why was she so upset over him? She's told everyone she was over him for ages now… Maybe because it was Jen who had him to herself now… For some strange reason, her mother's face popped up in her mind's eye right now, saying "Share, honey, share" in the voice of someone convincing a 5-year-old to let a playmate hold the toy for a little while. "Shut the hell up, Mother…" Ally said aloud, and once again the tears returned.

Once again the tears returned. "Daddy, why???" she shrieked, going ultrasonic. It was the first time since age 6 that her parents had seen her cry. She never cried, ever. Her mother tried to step in but her father pushed her away. "Honey…" her mother started, disregarding her ex-husband's rude behaviour. "Don't HONEY me…" Nelle growled. As her parents tried to come closer, she moved away, as if defending herself from the verbal attacks. Suddenly, she felt like the lioness instead of the gazelle. She stood up straight, wiping her tears with her snow-white sleeve (which brought a look of extreme dissatisfaction to her mother's face), smearing her mascara and foundation in the process. She didn't care.
"All I was trying to say is that your father & I are worried about you. Rumors get around fast, dear, and there's been some talk of Cage going mental, hitting people, sleeping around…" her mother began. Nelle cut her off with a sharp glance, one that silently screamed "Get out of my face!". Speaking through clenched teeth, she started once again… "Did it ever so HAPPEN to occur to you that what you might be hearing are JUST rumors and nothing more? Did it ever happen to occur to you that I'm not going to seem as "dear" when I storm out of here, not wanting to talk to you ever again? Did it ever occur to you that I'm THIRTY-TWO years old??? At that age I just so SUPPOSE I'm quite capable of making my own decisions!!!"
"Nellie, calm down…" her father said firmly. He wanted to be sweet with her, but knew all too well that approach didn't bring many successful results.
"Give me a reason to and I will…" she replied, iciness beaming through beautifully.
"I married a handsome man, calm and rational…" her mother tried her "charm" on Nelle, but got a less-than satisfying response…
"And look what you ended up like…"
Her mother settled into fake-sob mode, but Nelle was too smart to buy it.
"I got a beautiful daughter, though…" Smiling through fake tears, her mother was so hopeful she'd give in.
She didn't.
"A beautiful daughter who ended up with the sensitivity of a steel door. Who had to be TAUGHT, literally TAUGHT, Mother, what "love" meant. I was so used in high school and I had no idea. I thought sex and looking good was all there was to love. Who gave me that wonder of a head-start??? My parents, who married one another for their looks…"

Upon sharing that final thought with her parents, she walked out.

She was too Sub-Zero in public to let herself cry now. Sitting in her car, she thought about reconsidering driving herself tonight, dead sure she'd end up in an accident. She wasn't going to let her nerves play tricks with her mind, though… This would mean her parents had won. Never, EVER was she going to let that happen.

She wanted to be in his arms right now, right that second. To just let go, sink into him. However, that was still half an hour away. Trying her best to keep her mind off of love and on the road, she decided to turn on some music. NPR was the first station she stumbled across while tuning, and thought she'd stay with it for the evening. "Or at least for the drive home…" she said to herself. There was something about that that made her stop… literally hit the breaks on the car. "Home…" she thought. Indeed, that was where she was headed. Only the place that had him could be called "Home." No parents, no friends, nobody could replace the "home" he'd made her.

"World Beat" was on. Interestingly enough, Patricia Kaas' "Une Fille De L'Est", a song she rarely heard but really liked, seeped through the speakers. The one final verse caught her more than anything:

"Et si tu sais comprendre
Qui je suis quand j'aime ou je deteste
Je t'offrirai l'amour droit, simple et sincere
D'une fille de l'Est."

That was exactly was she was doing at the moment - offering him the simple and sincere love of an eastern girl. For the first time in her life, EVER, "love" or whatever it seemed to be was simple and sincere. It wasn't because she was a cheerleader and he ran track. It wasn't because she had an "A" in biology and he was desperate to pass the class. It wasn't because she knew her parents would approve of him. In fact, her parents were doing exactly the opposite - and she still loved him more than anything.

"Je t'offrirai l'amour droit, simple et sincere d'une fille de l'Est." And he accepted, simply and sincerely…

Looking out the window into the nonstop rain, she smiled at the somewhat insane thought creeping through her mind. "It's crazy…" she said to herself. Yet some part of her was sure it wasn't. There HAD to be something wrong with their relationship, there just HAD to. If there were a crack… a noticeable crack… a big crack… a HUGE crack… something SO big Greg would just HAVE to take off the pink shades he'd been looking at Jen through… and if Ally could find it… she's offer him the simple and sincere love of a Boston girl. Listening to NPR, she melted to Kaas' voice as it sung the lyrics to one of her all-time favorite songs… "Would he accept???" she wondered…

They communicated without words. She entered, he came up to her, they kissed, she fell into his arms and just stood there for what seemed like ages… placing her head softly on his shoulder, she heard him whisper "It's okay…" to her, and she smiled. Could she let the tears pour now? There was no need. The lioness mask could be dropped. The world and it's cruelty (in the face solely of her parents, of course) could no longer hurt her. She didn't need the fangs, the claws, the icy wall around her mind and heart. His tenderness melted it, and protected her from any harm that could seep through the walls now…

As if any harm could.

One woman lay in the arms of her beloved, smiling in her dreams. Another, halfway across the country, was being tormented by the evil gremlins haunting her dreams… Words like "Jen", "David", "love", "Greg", "jealousy" and "hate" stood out noticeably among the gremlin population of her twisted little mind… There was another word that was haunting someone else besides Ally… Someone who felt falsely "safe" in somebody else's arms, thinking it was another… She didn't wake up to see that the arms she felt around her belonged to someone else, someone other than the person she'd hoped for. She could feel the right person's soft, loving whispers in her dreams, which made her sure the arms belonged to exactly him.

Ally had no arms around her while thinking of this word. All she had was the vision of a smile in the dark.


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