The Wild Anemone #2.5 & Some Anemones Are Blue #3 , Pagosa Cliffs

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Chapter 4

(mature part ahead: If you want to skip it then let’s just say Tonia does a bad thing with a bad man and sends him out to do an even worse thing to hurt Lloyd, through Garrett and Molly.)

As Tonia pulled in and waited for the garage door to open, she noticed the curtain move.

Inside her house, someone was waiting for her, someone who had been in her bed at least once a year during high school before his brother put him in prison. Someone who wanted revenge on Garrett and Molly more than she did. He was a rabid dog and all she had to do was get him worked up and point him in the right direction. The door between the garage and the house opened, she admired his silhouette. He had bulked up, maybe a little too much, but he still looked good. Gerald Durham looked dangerous as he stalked toward the car after she closed the door.

“Hello Gerry baby, I’m so glad you stopped to see me before you went to talk to Garrett.” Before he could answer, she was kissing him, and rubbing against him in just the way he liked, as he crushed her against the car. “Did you miss me while you were incarcerated?”

Instead of answering, he pushed up her suede skirt and bent her over the hood of the car. He hesitated seeing her panties were red lace with a matching bow in the center of the strappy, cage-style back, the tops of her nude thigh-highs matched with red lace and bows. He fingered the lace, cupping the slight curve of her rump.

“Do you like them? I wanted to look like a present for you, wrapped up in your favorite color to celebrate your freedom.” He didn’t know that she knew he lied about being paroled, he had escaped from Canyon City Prison this morning.

“Yes,” Growling like the beast he was.

She was wet before he tore her panties off. She groaned in pleasure as he pounded her. It was going to be a good night. Garrett would finally pay for rejecting her and forcing her to marry Pat. Molly would pay for seducing Garrett from her grasp, and Lloyd would just pay because hurting Molly would hurt him. The thought of his suffering made her quiver more than the hard sex she was getting. Tonia cried out as Gerald pulled her hair causing her to arch her back and lift her hips to meet his greedy advances. While her body writhed, her mind was experiencing another kind of pleasure. Let Lloyd have his tryst with the baker, the way he had one with his dance teacher, he would come back to Tonia eventually. He always did. They all always did.

Gerry grunted behind her and she knew he was finished for now.

(past the adult stuff)

He panted as she leaned back against him, his rough voice demanded in her ear, “Where is he?”

“He’ll be hosting strawbale maze with the apple bobbing tank in the back. You’ll probably be able to catch him alone there after the Trunk-o’-Treat. If not there, he and his new bride live in your dad’s old place. You remember Molly Ballard don’t you. How she always looked down on you because she didn’t understand how much you loved her? She has a bad case of morning sickness and is staying home tonight. Alone. They should both be home at midnight. Don’t you want to stay for a nightcap or late supper?” She straightened her clothes as he tucked himself back in.

“I ate the dinner you left me, thanks.” Gerald pulled her against his hard chest in an awkward hug. “Thank you, Tonia. You’ve always been my only friend in this town. When I’m done with him, I’m leaving Pagosa Cliffs, with or without Molly.”

“I’ll miss you,” she laid her hand on his cheek in a gesture of false affection. Patting him like the dog she always thought of him as.

“Goodbye, Tonia.”

She responded softly with a sad smile. “Goodbye, Gerry. I hope you can show her just how good of a man and a lover you are, like you’ve always shown me. I hope you can find happiness with her, don’t let her refuse. You have loved her as long as I’ve loved Lloyd, but that family just throws away the people who love them. She owes you at least one chance, just once.”

He left out the backdoor without another word and she smirked. In the kitchen, she noticed he had eaten and drank all the tainted food and beer she had left for him. In an hour or so, he’d be high, painfully horny, and ready for another go, and there would be no one around but innocent, two-month pregnant Molly Ballard-Durham to relieve his needs.

’Good boy, Gerry baby, now sic ‘em.’ Tonia thought malevolently.

That evening, Tonia pulled into the municipal building lot and stopped between Lloyd and his SUV. “What do you want, Lloyd? Are you stalking me? I saw you when I left the Anemone.”

Lloyd snorted derisively, then sneered. “Did you have a good time convincing Milli I am public enemy number one?”

Tonia narrowed her eyes at him, then held out the sketch Milli made of Tiana's cake. “I was ordering a cake for Tiana’s birthday. A quality baker like Milli gets booked up over the holidays and I wanted Tiana’s cake ordered from her since she makes T’s favorite flavor. And no, I didn’t tell Milli you were public enemy number one. I told her you were a good guy who had a few issues since coming home from the service.” Tonia rubbed her forehead, then looked back up at him with pleading eyes. “Lloyd, I’m not who you think I am. I still care about you and want you to be happy. I... I think if Milli makes you happy, then you should ask her out.”

“You want me to ask someone out, to date someone else?” He demanded incredulously.

“Yes, I want you to date, Lloyd. I loved you once upon a time, part of me still does, but we lost our fairytale ending. As hard as it is, I still want you to be happy. I am not the monster Tim tried to convince you I am. I... I’m trying to extend an olive branch. You can even have Tiana on more than Tim’s one weekend every month, as long as you don’t take her around your grandparents. I won’t have them poisoning her against me, the way they did Molly.” She clenched her grip on the steering wheel.

“You started that when you didn’t want her to date Garrett,” he pointed out.

“I know. I thought Garrett was the wrong person for her. Things just got out of hand. Please Lloyd, we live in the same town, we have to think about Tiana. We don’t want her to go through the gossip grinder the way you and Tim and Molly did.”

Lloyd’s jaw ticked like it did before he was about to argue, but then he bowed his head and sighed deeply. “Fine. For Tiana’s sake. But I’m not going to ask Milli out. She’s been through enough, she doesn’t need my baggage.”

Tonia looked at him like she was sad for him, shaking her head slowly like she pitied him. “You just can’t let yourself be happy, can you, Lloyd?”

She started to pull away, she hadn’t worn a jacket because this Halloween was warmer than usual. She had also noticed Lloyd trying not to notice her costume or her cleavage.

“Tonia, wait.”

She looked up at him expectantly.

“Thanks, and... you look pretty tonight.” Lloyd glanced away as he said, and she laughed internally. He would never truly belong to anyone else.

“Thank you, Lloyd. See you around.” Pulling out, she headed for the school.

Milli managed to get Emily into her carseat without dropping her. She cursed the cast she had to wear while her arm mended. It was so annoying. Jackson loaded the trays of bagged cookies. The frosted pumpkin spice sugar cookies came in three shapes; squares with haunted houses, eight pointed stars with spiderwebs and candy spiders, and round moons with shadowed cats. They had enough for every person in the county to have one. Auntie Elizabeth came out last, her portable oxygen hidden in the full skirt of her dress.

She cackled gleefully, “Did you know the fairy godmother from Cinderella was an old witch?”

Jackson laughed, responding “And who are you going to cast a spell on tonight, Auntie? Prince Humpy? I don’t think glass slippers work on trolls.”

Milli shot them both a glare as she tried to work the buckles one handed. “Trolls don’t wear shoes.”

Jackson reached past her and expertly locked Emily in as she screeched and laughed at his wig. “Ja-ja! Ja- ja!”

Milli smirked and said to Emily, “Oh look, princess, oh my, our beanstalk has grown a tuft, it must be a fungus. I guess we’ll have to chop it down... Ouch!” She exclaimed as Jackson pinched her leg.

“Enough teasing Trollina, I’ll remind you that I stayed when I could easily have gone back to our glittering kingdom with my knight in shining autos. ” Jackson scowled crossly, but Emily’s chanting of his name had him kissing her and tickling her with his wig.

They arrived at the high school just before sunset and parked along the running track where Lloyd pointed. Milli walked back over to him with a couple of cookies, he groaned happily as he ate one.

“These are amazing, but just what are you supposed to be?” He asked.

“I’m Princess Trollina, from my tiara to my tutu, can’t you tell?” She twirled for him. “And who are you supposed to be, just plain old Deputy Hum...” He put his hand over her mouth and her eyes crinkled in amusement.

“I’m the same as I ever was, I don’t pretend,” he said seriously.

“Oh, that is so sad for you. See you around,” Her voice dropped to a husky whisper, “Deputy Humpy.” Giggling, she walked back toward her delivery van. The corset part of her costume accented her curves as the long tutu skirt swayed.

“She looks adorable.” Tonia said from behind him. “Bernie wants to know when we can start sending the kids around.”

Lloyd turned and almost choked, Tonia’s dress was practically transparent with the bright lights of the school backlighting her. “Um, I still have people arriving. I’ll send someone up.”

“Thanks, Lloyd.” She turned and walked away, knowing that she looked more like Lady Godiva with wings than Queen Titiana.

Lloyd just shook his head and went back to directing traffic. Tonia was definitely going to win the adult women’s costume contest, or at least that is what he thought until he saw Coach Wally walking over to Milli’s van with her girls. Both girls were wearing nearly identical blue wings attached to blue body suits and leggings, but Coach Wally’s wings looked like those of the tattoo she between and on her ample breast, which were revealed by the plunging V-neck of a clinging silky gown that faded from dark blue to turquoise. The way it floated around her, it reminded him of a pool’s surface. She looked like she risen from the water she was so famous for diving into. She repeatedly reached up to touch a tiara on her head until Gracie slapped her hand. Willow was holding baby Emily and laughing at something Auntie Elizabeth said. Sheriff Tank Tanner’s rumbling chuckle followed as he came up and Lloyd grinned at him.

“You’re a lucky man, Sheriff.” Lloyd pointed out with a nod of his head.

“You could be lucky too, Deputy, if you’d take the chance.” Tank pointed out.

Lloyd ground his teeth. “Did everyone in town decide it was ‘fix up Lloyd with the baker’ day? I don’t even like cake.”

Tank laughed, then asked, “Really?”

“No, and it seems you, Aunt Ruby, Ms. Elizabeth, Milli’s friend Mitch, heck, even Tonia wants me to date her.”

Tank’s expression couldn’t hide his surprise, “Antonia, Tonia?”

“Yeps, that one. My evil ex told me today that she wanted me to date and to be happy.” Lloyd turned counting the cars, all the RSVPs and three extra had shown up.

“Did you do a field sobriety test on her?” Tank asked cautiously. It wasn’t like Tonia to recommend anything to anyone that didn’t benefit her or her reputation in some way. Her questionable costume for a school sponsored event and lame excuse about not realizing it was practically lingerie, made Tank wonder if she had been drinking. “She showed up tonight in her nightie and a pair of wings.”

“She looked and sounded sober. And trust me, that uh... dress covers more than anything she sleeps in,” Lloyd assured him.

“Well then, I will take your word for that. It’s a Halloween miracle, I guess wonders never cease.” Tank surveyed the parked cars, trucks and vans. Everyone looked almost ready to start passing out treats. “Let them know we’ll get this show on the road in 5 minutes.”

“Sure thing, Sheriff.” Lloyd walked toward the building, stopping for a moment to talk to Garrett at the baseball diamond gate to the strawbale maze.

“Ms. Milli! Ms. Elizabeth! Jacks!” The Wallace girls called and, for a moment, Milli couldn’t tell them apart. With the butterfly wings painted on their faces, they looked like identical twins, except for Gracie being slightly shorter. Camille looked like a goddess, ombre blue silk floated around her as it plunged into deep V that showed of the famous tattoo Milli had heard so much about. She almost snickered at Jackson’s reaction. He had always been a boob man, in spite being gay.

“You... you look a..a..amazing, C-coach Wally.” Jackson stammered as Willow snickered.

“What the matter Jackson, troll got your tongue?” Willow teased.

“No, sis, it’s the lack of air up there, trolls aren’t used to being tall,” Gracie added.

“You’re both wrong,” Milli joined in the teasing, “His brother, the giant at the top of beanstalk, got jealous of his pumpkin fake hair and cursed his tongue so now it just flaps uselessly every time he sees a butterfly.”

“You’re prolly the one who cursed me, Trollina. ” Jackson accused as he blushed red. “I’m just going to hand out cookies.”

“Hey! Take up the getting cursed problem with the fairy godmother,” Milli jerked her head at Elizabeth, who was chuckling, as Milli offered cookies to a pair of cowgirl fairies.

“Oh Jack-a-boy, there’s no cure for that. Especially when it is someone as beautiful as our Blue Butterfly.” Elizabeth beamed at Camille with pride as is she was her own. “Our mermaid of the mountains had always been the fairest in the valley, inside and out.”

“Aww thank you, Auntie Elizabeth.” Camille blushed prettily just as Tank came up and put his hand to her back. She turned to look up him with a beautiful smile.

“You look lovely as a butterfly.” Tank complimented. “Gracie, the wings look amazing, you did a great job on the costumes.”

“Thanks, Sheriff Tank. ” Gracie grinned from ear to ear. “But the hardest part was getting mom the wear it.”

“Yah, we had to threaten to throw all the dives in next spring’s competition.” Willow added. “Not that we really would have.”

Milli laughed, then scolded, “Girls, you shouldn’t threaten your mom like that, you have all worked really hard.”

“You should come watch us dive, Ms. Milli.” Gracie begged.

“Yah, totoallyyyy.” Willow added.

Tank glanced between them, “Now girls, Ms. Milli runs a business. So, what do we have tonight?”

“Pumpkin spiced sugar cookies.” Jackson held out a bag to the sheriff and did his best to give one to Camille without shaking or glancing at her tattoo. Tank started to take a bite when his radio squawked and he stepped away.

“Ms. Milli, can we take Emily around with us?” Willow begged

“We’ll watch her really closely,” Gracie promised. “And not let anyone touch her or take her out of the stroller.”

“Fine just be very careful and come straight back when you finish going around.” Milli agreed, they were getting quite a group gathered for cookies. She, Jackson, and Elizabeth were handing them out as quickly as they could. Even Camille was handing out cookies, when Tank came back up.

“Wally, we got a problem. Someone opened the pool room and evidently dumped soap in the pool. The room is full of bubbles several feet high.” Tank sounded angry, but Camille looked like she was going to explode.

“Every damn year!” Camille hissed.

“We’ll watch the girls, just go before someone falls in the pool and drowns,” Milli told her.

“Thanks, Milli. Tank?” Camille picked up the hem split in the dress and sprinted toward the school in her heels with Tank beside her.

“Damnnnnn, they can run fast.” Jackson gaped after them.

Auntie Elizabeth chuckled, “Coach Wally and Sheriff Tanner run 5Ks and 10Ks for charity. They also teach free self-defense classes and do a lot of other things for the community. Someday they are going to get married and it will be the biggest party this county has seen.”

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