Chapter Twenty Four
Kate returned home.
So much had happened. Her head was spinning. She hadn’t even told Joan yet that she had a work conference to go to in a few days, out of town, for a few nights. It occurred to her that maybe she could leave early, take the time to think and work things out.
What a mess she thought to herself as she sat on the couch and tried to work out what she was going to do. She looked over at Ludo who was happily swimming circles in his bowl, Joan would need to watch him for a few days, he could go to her house and she would still be able to hold back from giving Joan a key. That was important to her, as much as she knew it irked Joan. There were still things that Joan didn’t know about Kate’s past and she wanted to keep it that way, it was her way of remaining in control of the situation she was in.
Kate needed space, she needed to think, she needed to clear her head and spend some time alone to work out what it was that she missed when it wasn’t there. In her head she trickled over memories that were emotionally void when it came to Joan. Looking at her bookshelf she took one down that she had completely forgotten she owned, the DSM, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Opening the book from the back page she checked the index for psychopathic tendencies. Right there under antisocial personality disorder was the psychopathy checklist and she started running over it to see how many boxes Joan ticked. A score of 10 – 15 was average and as she slowly trickled down the list of items Joan’s score was getting higher and higher.
She snapped the book shut with a bang when she was only half way through the list. She needed more time. Her eyes were wide with worry and her breathing had changed to quick, short breaths. She felt a tremble in her hands and looked down at the book. It stared back at her like an omen and caused a shiver to run over her whole body. With one quick movement she tossed the book on the couch and walked into her bedroom.
Kate packed an overnight bag and loaded it in her car, another bag containing the book and some snacks also got thrown into the passenger side. She knew Joan would be home late, but she didn’t realise what the time already was. She picked up Ludo’s fish bowl and food and headed across the road. There was a small side table nearby the lounge that she would place him on. With a note on the bench telling Joan it was work related and she would be home in a few days. Kate stopped on the doorstep. It felt cold. She knew Joan would be broken from her actions. It would hurt their relationship and if what the psychologist said was actually true then Kate had no way of knowing how Joan would actually react to something like this.
Placing Ludo’s bowl on the ground Kate unlocked the door and opened it wide as she battled with herself.
This is wrong she told herself and she stopped on the threshold. Either way she would need to leave Ludo with Joan so she could attend the conference. But would she leave early? She needed to get to Sydney by Monday morning for the start of it, but it was only Friday evening now. It was a 9 hour drive or a 90 minute flight.
She stepped inside and closed the door, still furiously chasing her own thoughts around on what she would do. She placed Ludo on the side table and he did some laps around the bowl, taking in his new surroundings. Kate pulled the container of flakes from her pocket and sprinkled some in his bowl to keep him happy which he immediately began pecking at on the surface. The container sat on the table beside his bowl and she looked around the house. The red face brick was stark against the cream mortar. The dark wood floor shone colours and grains beneath the overhead down lights. The entire space was architecturally cold, but warm once you got to see the finer aspects of the old building, with the helping hand of a human touch. Just like Joan.
Kate found one of Joan’s many paper pads and a pen then she sat on a stool at the kitchen bench. She thought hard, was it enough to leave a letter? Really she should call. Really she should have told Joan about the conference a week ago when she found out herself, but she had forgotten twice and chickened out once in the last week. Really she should just wait for Joan to get home.
But something ticked in the back of her mind, like maybe this was her last option, the psychologist’s voice and her allegations ran around inside Kate’s head. She’s a psychopath. Maybe this was her only way to break free.
The red flags.
Kate’s own warning to her at the very start of the relationship, ‘use me, abuse me, or kill me, those are the only ways you will lose me.’ A tiny voice of fear right in the back of her brain was scaring her off. She rationalised with herself that maybe it was just her own fear of commitment. Maybe it was her own hang ups on relationships that were scaring her right now. Maybe she was looking for evidence when it wasn’t there at all; it was just Kate’s over active imagination combined with her own past and that stupid little voice that made her think things that weren’t completely true.
No one knows Joan like I do she thought to herself and again she replayed memories of how Joan had opened up to her, trusted her, bared some of the scariest parts of herself only to Kate. She trusted Joan with her life, she proved that the other night with their fierce love making where Joan simply could have tightened her grip and strangled her in a heartbeat.
But she didn’t. Kate knew that Joan truly loved her.
But still, Kate needed the time to think, to process, to work things out in her head an make herself a solid plan for how to handle Joan; her mood swings, her work, her short temper, the extreme level of stress she seemed to carry on a daily basis. Kate needed space. She picked up the pen.
Dear my darling Joan,
That was as far as she got when she heard Joan’s car pull into the driveway.
Kate froze, the pen held in midair as she was about to start the next sentence of her letter. Her head turned to the door and she calculated how much time she had until Joan walked through it. Only a matter of seconds most likely. Her mind raced to think of her options.
She ripped the piece of paper from the pad, folded it twice and tucked it into her back pocket. She needed more time.
Joan unlocked the door and walked through to find Kate standing in front of the fridge pulling out a nicely chilled bottle. “Honey, I’m home,” Joan joked in her low, monotonous voice with a smile that did actually reach her eyes. Her hair was still up in the tight bun, but her tie was undone as well as her top two shirt buttons.
Kate felt herself melting under her lovers gaze. “Wine.” It was a statement, not a question as she closed the fridge door.
Placing her things down Joan was upon Kate in an instant, her arms wrapped around the younger woman’s body and she pulled her in close. “I missed you today.” Her lips found Kate’s and the two found themselves passionately enjoying one another.
Kate’s brain went quiet, her heart raced with the tingle of anticipation, her outstretched hand found the bench and placed the bottle down so she would have the freedom to hold the woman she loved with both arms. She knew Joan was odd, different, perhaps even a freak by the standards of closed minded others, but when they were intimate together, Kate just knew that it didn’t matter who or what Joan was, she was hers. That was all she wanted to know.
Joan could smell the scent of alcohol on Kate’s clothing as though she had been in a bar after work, possibly Friday afternoon drinks with work colleagues? She knew Kate occasionally joined some of her workmates on a Friday afternoon for drinks, but there was something else, a perfume she recognised that wasn’t Kate’s. It wasn’t strong enough to have been from contact, just close enough to have been left on Kate’s clothing. It was familiar, but Joan couldn’t pick where she knew it from so she pushed it to the back of her mind. The truth would reveal itself eventually.
Seconds turned to minutes and their passion simmered down a touch. Enough for Kate to look up into Joan’s eyes and see the sparkle of desire. Suddenly she knew she wasn’t going anywhere tonight. Tonight would be passion; tomorrow she would leave. It was only fair on Joan to be told face to face and have the opportunity to say a proper goodbye, even though it wasn’t forever.
“Why is Ludo here?” Joan asked as though it was an observation of the weather. She had seen the fish bowl sitting on the side table as soon as she had walked in the room, but chose to ignore it until she had proper control of the situation. There could have been many reasons, but one specific one sprang to mind and she wanted Kate sedated somewhat before she broached the subject.
“Oh, I have to go away for a few days for a work conference; I was hoping you could look after him.”
“A Forensic Pathologist conference?” Joan questioned. Something told her it was a cover story for something else; her keen mind was always quick to find the flaws in a not so tight story.
“A medical practitioner’s conference actually, work is sending me to learn about some new medications and such that can show up in an autopsy as errors or inconclusive results.”
Joan’s brain ticked over the information, that sounded more legitimate and so she pulled Kate in closer again. “How long will I be missing you for?”
“Only a few days, once the main information has been delivered that I’m concerned with I’ll be bailing early to come home. I leave tomorrow.”
Joan smiled and ran her hand through Kate’s hair, grazing her nails along the scalp as the locks drifted through her slightly spread fingers. “Of course I’m more than happy to look after Ludo. It means you’ll come home to me.”
Kate couldn’t help but giggle as she stretched to her tippy toes to place her lips at Joan’s ear. “I’ll always come home to you.”
In that moment they both knew that she meant every word. Kate felt an overwhelming sense of commitment and trust as the words slipped from her lips. Joan was suddenly taken over with an uncontrollable hunger for the woman who was devoted to her.
Joan’s movements were quick as she pulled Kate’s shirt from her body and pinned her against the island bench. Her hands were needy, her breathing suddenly ragged and heaving as she kissed Kate in a way of such desperation. Her fingers skilfully worked buttons before her hand plunged down the front of Kate’s pants. Kate gasped with a mixture of surprise and pleasure as she was suddenly entered without warning.
“Don’t come until I tell you to.” Joan ordered in a sharp voice as she whispered the words harshly into Kate’s ear.
The build up of pleasure was quick and intense for Kate as Joan’s desperation shone through like a lighthouse in the fog. She could feel herself quickly headed for the edge as teeth grazed at her skin and her body was pinned to the cupboard behind her. She moaned loudly, her head was thrown back as the delight raced through her body and she had to hold onto herself from tipping over the threshold.
“Tell me you love me,” Joan demanded of Kate as her free hand found the back of Kate’s neck and pulled their faces close together. The lust in Kate’s eyes was overwhelming, the desperation for release combined with the ecstasy of being controlled in such a fashion.
“I love you Joan,” Kate panted into Joan’s open mouth only a centimetre from her own.
“Tell me you’ll come back to me.”
“Always Joan, I’ll always come back to you.”
“I couldn’t bear to lose you, Kate. I love you more than anything.” Joan’s black eyes held contact with Kate’s. She knew it was true, deep down inside her own self she truly loved the woman in front of her, but she didn’t know how to have a relationship – or how to love someone – without still remaining in control of them and the situation.
Kate put her hands on Joan’s cheeks, looking deep into her eyes as her back pressed against the island bench cupboard and the bench edge dug into her spine. “I’m yours Joan,” she promised through pants of breath as she tried to hold her orgasm back. “I always have been since the day we met, and I always will be until the day I die.”
Joan wrapped her free arm around her lover and held her tight as she whispered, “now,” so delicately into her ear that the word itself caused a ripple of goose bumps to travel across Kate’s bare skin as she gripped onto Joan’s suit jacket around her shoulders and finally tipped over the edge. Joan held her tight and felt the entire shaking orgasm against her own body.