Today is my day with the women. That sounds better than it is. Iím the chauffer and package carrier. Lee is decorating and Tracie is her assistant. Why arenít Nick or Kevin here? They want "girl time" and to shop without a male point of view. Not sure if Iím insulted or privileged. Youíve never really eaten until youíve eaten with a pregnant woman and her friend who doesnít want her to feel like a pig. They ate and ate and ate. Hell, they ate as much as I did. Thatís a big deal. We headed back through the mall after they finished grazing, "Damn, Tracie. Sheís eating for two so sheíll burn that off. Youíre going to have to work out a few hours to burn all that off."

Lee smirked, "Kevin will work her out for a couple of hours to work that off."

They high fived! "You two are pigs."

"Weíve learned from the best."

We shopped and laughed. Lee found what she wanted for the house, and Tracie found some sex lotion. I guess thatís what she wanted. It was a great day and we were heading out of the mall laughing about a story Lee was telling on Nick, when I spotted her, "Oh shit!"

Lee stopped talking, "What?"

I nodded in her direction. Tracie followed my nod, "Havenít seen her in long time."

I reached for her, "Tracie, donít."

Lee grabbed my arm, "Weíll just let her get a little ahead of us. If you go after her it will make a scene."

We let her get a few feet in front of us and kept the distance. She was walking fast until she caught up with her.


I wondered if Iíd ever get a chance like this. I had hoped for darker and more secluded, but Iíd make do. I caught up with her and put my arm around her shoulder, "Hi Jessica, how have you been?"

She looked a little startled, "Tracie . . . I didnít think you shopped on this side of town."

"I donít. But Leeís house is over here so weíre here. I guess you live over here now." I kept up the idle chit chat as I guided her into an underdeveloped part of the mall.

"Iím back at the same place. How is Kevin?"

What large balls she has. "Heís good. Very good. No thanks to you. Iíve been wanting to talk to you. He told me what happened. Finally. Took a long time. He had a lot of trouble with what you did. But Iím sure that doesnít surprise you."

"I didnít mean to hurt him. I still love him. I just wanted us to be happy."

I believe what separates us from animals is the ability to moderate the natural instinct to KILL. I was fighting it. I picked up speed.


I donít know what Jessica just said, but Tracie started walking faster and led Jessica into a hallway. This was feeling very familiar. I saw it happening. AJ did too. We tried to stop it. Too late.


Tracie came through the front door and pulled up when she saw me. I saw that she was holding her hand, "Baby, what is it?" She growled at me and walked by.

AJ came through the door, "Hey there, Kev."

"Whatís wrong with Tracie?"

He started laughing, "Well, we ran into Jessica t the mall."

"Oh fuck."

"Ms. Tracie has a good right on her, but unlike when you decked her ex, she did bust her hand open. No idea how bad, sheís pissed and wouldnít let us see."

I ran up the stairs. The bathroom door was closed, so I knocked, "Tracie, baby?"

"Go away. I hate you." She screamed at me.

I tried the door, it was locked, "I know you do. Unlock the door."

I heard a click, "I hate you!" She screamed again.

I opened to door and carefully stepped inside. She had her hand under the faucet, blood washing down the drain, "Oh baby, honey."

"Donít you fucking touch me. I HATE YOU."

I grabbed a towel and held it in my hands, "Come on. Thatís enough. Trust me." I used the magic words. She laid her hand in mine and I wrapped the towel around her, putting pressure all over. "Let me look?" Phrased that as a question, meant it as a statement. I unwrapped her hand and saw the split along her knuckles. It was about an inch long. I winced, "Tracie" and brought her hand up to kiss it, "Iím sorry."

She didnít pull back, "I have never hit another person in my entire life."

"I know." I felt like shit.

"I hate you." As soon as she said it she flung herself into my arms and started crying.

Nothing to do but hold her and rock her, "I hate you too."

She started laughing and shoved me, "You asshole, youíre not supposed to make me laugh when I hate you."

"What? I said I hate you too."

"You donít hate me."

"No, and despite all your screaming, you donít hate me either. I love you."

I thought that might bring on some more crying. "Kevin, she said she didnít want to hurt you, she loved you and wanted you two to be happy. I snapped. How the hell would that not hurt you?"

"Sheís a bitch." I hugged her this time, "Youíre amazing. Thank you."

"I donít believe in physical violence."

"I know, but you hit her for me."

"Because I hate you." We were both laughing now.



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