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Chapter 2 – Michonne

"Eric is pissed with you, Michonne. You and Andre actually. He had a whole night planned. Milton said we missed a really good party. We had a sitter and everything. Had suits to wear instead of the sweats we've been wallowing in."

"Damn. I'm pissed I missed that. You were always so handsome in a suit." I chuckle, remembering that going to my assistant Milton's New Year's Eve party was technically my idea, and that the guys were reluctant to not only dress up, but to also leave their baby with a sitter that wasn't me. "I got… caught up in something. And Andre spent the night at my folks' house, and was hanging out with a new friend. How mad is Eric? 1-10?"

"Oh he's big mad. Like 10+10 mad. You know we needed this fun night out. Being new parents has not been an easy transition for us." Aaron reminds me. My best friend and his husband have been struggling since adopting their daughter Liana. He's right, I knew that. But how could I have turned down the sheriff's offer last night?

When I followed my parents into the party, and they excused themselves to find the hosts, I noticed him almost immediately standing by the patio doors as he was being introduced to a short, blonde woman. At first I wasn't sure what was going on, was she under arrest? Dressed in a cop's uniform, he stood over her, and the scene didn't make sense. As a lawyer, I'm always on guard when I see law enforcement interacting with the public. It's a bad habit from my days as a public defender.

Eventually, as their conversation moved on, I saw that no, she wasn't under arrest. Their banter became less stilted, more jovial, flirtatious, though his stance remained authoritative, his chest bulked in a purely masculine way. He reached for her face, to swipe away some of her hair. She touched her hands to his chest. At that point I decided to stop torturing myself and walk away.

An unreasonable feeling of jealousy had overcome me as I watched the tall, handsome cop hold on to his brown hat in one hand, tapping it against his thigh, while he shoved his other through his short brunette hair, keeping his curls off his face. When he casually turned my way, scratching at his salt and pepper beard and scanning the crowd, I caught a glimpse of the stark clearness of his squinting blue eyes, and it was more than I could bear. How lucky they were to be together in that moment. Sharing a cozy romantic closeness that had become foreign to my lonely sensibilities. So handsome and perfectly matched that it hurt.

She was so obviously smitten with him, probably drawn to the power exuded by his confident, erect stance, one long bowed leg balancing the weight of his form on his dusty cowboy boots. Or maybe it was the protective way his head remained on a swivel, keeping one eye out for danger, and another keenly on her pretty face.

He was equally into her, most likely enticed by the submissive way she lowered her eyes before answering his questions, tossing her long blonde hair over her shoulders. The feminine brush of her fingers across his chest, and the coquettish smile of her pink lips. Or perhaps he was most intrigued by her non-threatening way of giggling at everything he said, seemingly deferring to his authority.

Witnessing their connection created a hollow sickness in my belly. A recognition that I had that once. That I belonged to someone who thought the the sun rose and set in my eyes, who looked at me like that cop looked at the pretty blonde. There was a time when that pretty blonde was me. And my heart danced and bathed in the love and adoration of my then husband's love, making me feel every bit as giddy and joyous as that woman across the room seemed to be right now. She wasn't experiencing the empty shame I felt right now, standing around at a New Year's Eve party alone.

For probably ten minutes I watched as they held a conversation, turning away whenever he would make his sweeps of the crowd with his eyes, not wanting to get busted staring. Disgusted with myself I walked outside to try and find my son, who had taken off as soon as we got there. When I stepped out onto the patio, illuminated by the moon's bluish grey glow, and the miniature white lights strung up high, crisscrossing over the patio, I located my son. Off to the side, near a table decked out with all manner of snacks and sweets, my son Andre was standing and seemingly making friends with a young white kid, laughing and smiling. Content that he had found someone his age to hang out with, something that I was doubtful of when my parents suggested Andre and I head to the neighbors' party with them, I continued a slow stroll across the patio.

Instantly, I was accosted by a grungy looking older gentlemen, who tried his very best to start up a conversation that I tuned out before he even got started. Excusing myself from the ramble of his words, and the grabby hands he tried to place on my own hands and arms, I recognized the cop from earlier standing at the outside bar, and made my way in that direction. I couldn't help myself. While I have a healthy suspicion of most cops, there was an aura about him that attracted me like a moth to a flame. He exuded an air of earnest protectiveness that had always drawn me to powerful men. My ex included.

Prancing in his direction, a surge of confidence guided my steps, and added an extra swing to my curvy hips. I looked good. I knew that, and despite whatever issues I now have as a result of my divorce, a certainty in the existence of my good looks has never been a problem for me. It was other parts of me that often gave me pause and reason to question.

Pushing up to the bar, I gained the attention of the bartender and requested a drink. Resting my hip against the wood, my back to him as I waited on my drink, I sensed the heat of his stare on me, instantly lighting an electric awareness of him. And when he spoke up as the guy from outside came to accost me once more, telling him that he was my boyfriend, it took everything in me to keep my face stoic and not jump on him. He smelled so good. The only sufficient description I have for it, is that it reminded me of a time when I went to a cabin in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, with my ex and some friends for a couples' weekend. He smelled like that time in my life. Like the cozy, heated comfort of that cabin. Like the cool outdoorsy wind, the rugged earth. Like pine needles, wood, and the smoke wafting from the fireplace. God help me, he leaned in, his large hand on my shoulder, and dropped a chaste peck to my temple, and I knew right then, in that very moment, as I rolled my shoulders in a backwards wave to stave off the lust rising in my core…if this man wanted me, he could have me. No question. Even when he suddenly removed his hand in response to my movements, maybe assuming that I was not pleased with his touch. No, I was very pleased, too pleased with the kiss and touch of this stranger. And that's why I had to look at him, to see if I still had any of the allure I once held over men, and could garner his full attention. To see if I could have him. Just a taste.

It's all very unlike me. I'm not impulsive or impetuous. I haven't even been with anyone since Mike and I divorced. So what it was about this man that made me suddenly want to overheat with wanton desire, I have no clue. I just know that in that moment in time, I wanted to be the center of his world. I wanted him to make me feel special and giddy like he had the blonde. I wanted to know what it would feel like to be claimed by him, if only for one night.

So that's what I did, and I don't regret it. I followed him home, where Rick proceeded to make love to me with every inch of his body. Tasting my womanhood, and kissing my lips, my breasts. Touching my sensitive skin with the whisper soft crawl of his calloused fingers, leaving goosebumps in their wake. Inhaling my scent as he nuzzled my neck, groaning in appreciation, as he pinned me with his chest pressed closely to mine, abrading my nipples with the soft gruff of his chest hair. Urging my grateful moans to escape my parted lips. And most importantly, seeing me. Through me really. Through the carefully constructed façade of a put together woman, to the real me. The unvarnished vulnerability that is Michonne Alexander-Anthony. A disregarded woman, lonely for the touch of a meaningful human connection. And he gave me that.

Even though he is divorced as well, he didn't seem as scared or scarred as I was, though my bourbon emboldened actions may have led him to inaccurately come to this assumption. No. My sheriff, Rick, was gentle yet firm, sexy and self-assured, a dangerous arsenal that he used to bury my doubts, and arouse my senses. Inciting a wanton carelessness that I have never exhibited when I was not a married woman. So much so that it simply never crossed my mind to even ask him for a condom. He made me feel so alive as he quietly commanded my body, and heightened my exhilaration, using his own to sate both of our carnal needs. And to unexpectedly keep me there, with him, all night. On a sexy promise to belong to him, for him to take care of me, at least for one night, I nearly melted into a puddle, and acquiesced.

Holding me close, crushing my body under the lithe sinew of muscles, veins, and heated golden skin, covered in fine dark hair, I accepted his invitation to remain with him, sequestered behind the security of his arms, casually commanding me to stay close to him. I slept so good, deep and hard, that I forgot where I was when I woke at my usual 5:30 the next morning with his arm still clutching me close, draped over my breasts. For a brief moment I forgot that I was divorced and that the real Michonne now spent her nights alone, with only her snoring son down the hall in his messy room, and a tempestuous cat precariously perched on the pillow beside her. And I didn't want to leave him. This beautiful man, with his loud gruff snores easing over his soft pink lips and into my neck. The toes of his long feet toying with my own, often brushing over my ankle to pull me in even closer.

Realizing that I should go, that in the light of day I would be forced to account for my wild actions from the night before, I chickened out of the certain confrontation with my truth. It was sure to come, as surely as the sun would rise. So I left. I carefully drug myself from his tight grasp, doused with the cold splash of the air without him covering me, and shimmied back into my dress. Slinking out of his house this morning, sans panties that I couldn't locate anyway, I didn't regret a thing. I also know that because I have no answer for my uncharacteristic behavior last night, I don't really want to confess it, or attempt to explain it. Not even to the only man I love more than my daddy and Andre, Aaron.

"I'm so very sorry, Aaron. I will make it up to you guys. How about you leave Liana with me for a weekend? Andre and I can watch her. It might teach your godson some responsibility."

"What? Michonne, you said that when you bought him a fish and he never fed it, then it died from hunger. You also said that when you and Mike got that dog, who got fat from Andre over feeding it and not walking him, then ended up with diabetes. A dog with diabetes, Michonne. You said it again when you got that cat. Well you still have the cat, but I hate the cat, and I don't want my daughter to go down in the 'Andre is not ready to be a caregiver' hall of shame."

"Listen, Aaron, he was 5 when we got the fish, and only 7 when we got the dog. He was barely bathing and taking care of himself then. Mike and I were just trying to teach him about taking care of anything then. He wouldn't be like that now and you know it. He adores his god-sister. Come on, dude, let me make it up to you guys. And hey, don't talk shit about my cat."

"Fine. This weekend I'm going to allow you to watch your god-daughter, and to buy us tickets to that new play 'Eclipsed'. I heard it's pretty amazing."

"Allow me?"

"Yes. Allow you. So what did you get caught up in that had you stand up your very best friend in the whole world? It wasn't Mike was it?"

"No. Why would you even say that?" I quickly ask, not wanting Aaron to get agitated at the idea of my ex. We had an amicable divorce, but Aaron still hates him for the emotional abandonment that started way before we even uttered the words divorce.

Like I confessed to the sheriff last night, I can't have any more kids, and that has always been a sore spot in Mike's and my marriage. If I'm being honest I knew after my last miscarriage two years ago, that it was the beginning of the end for us, but I tried to save what we had. I did it for Andre, and for myself. Andre deserved his parents together, and needed his father. So, I dedicated myself to doing what I do best, I attempted to fix it. I tried it all. I exercised everyday and changed to a strict vegan diet, trying to make my body a perfectly clean vessel, in fruitless hope that it might fix whatever was wrong with me. I invested in tons of La Perla lingerie, pole and chair dancing classes, watching porn to pick up new tips. On one occasion I even talked Mike into making it to one marriage counseling appointment before I realized as he grudgingly stuttered through a few minimal answers to the therapist's questions, what Mike probably knew all along, something with me, with us was irreparably broken.

He couldn't hide it. There was so much rampant desperation to every movement I was making at the time, every word I spoke, every decision I made. Every thing about me was geared towards serving at the pleasure of Mike. Failure just didn't seem like a viable option for me, it never has been. I'm a lawyer, I'm competitive, and I don't lose. But, Mike had probably already resigned himself to our fate, quietly withdrawing from me. Towards the end he couldn't even look me in the eyes, and his handsome face, that I was so fond of, was always contorted into a disappointed frown. His touch so cold and stilted. His words terse and abrupt.

We didn't start out that way though. The memory of a young Michonne, a freshman, and Mike, a graduating senior meeting at Howard University, falling in love and ready to take on the world, still makes my eyes water, and my heart soar. Mike was dramatically handsome. Standing on long legs, so very tall. Dark fudge eyes so bright, seductive. A full wide nose, and lips, set on a face so attractive, and regal, he looked like royalty. Together we made a striking pair with our matching beautiful plum colored skin, and expressive features. Though he was not my first, he was the man who set me on fire and taught me everything good about my body, about sex. We were so in love then, so optimistic about our future together, that a surprise pregnancy near the end of my senior year was a gift that was met with elation, hope. We immediately got married at a chapel near Georgetown, where Mike had just finished his last year of graduate school, with only the preacher and his secretary as witnesses.

Andre was born that same year. He was premature, and the traumatic birth, which included 12 hours of labor, and resulted in 2 weeks in the NICU, and uterine scarring that seems to have deemed me a one child parent. And for me that was ok. Over the many years of our lives together, I was content to dote on Andre, to nourish his body and his mind, and watch him grow into the self-assured, intelligent, slightly irresponsible, and fairly messy young man he is now. For Mike, it signaled that something about our union was not quite right. God had somehow punished him for something by not blessing him with more kids. And so it began.

As one of eight kids, the thought of only having one child was incomprehensible to Michael Kendall Anthony. And as the son of a preacher, he was not interested in pursuing any kind of medical intervention that might help us diagnose the cause for our secondary infertility, including the two miscarriages we suffered. As a result, after nearly thirteen years of only Mike, Andre, and myself, Mike began to pull away from me. From Andre too. Spending more time flying back and forth to New Jersey to help his parents with their church, and managing their multiple rental properties. Working late in the office of his accounting firm, instead of coming home to his family. I suppose when he was no longer confronted with having to walk through our large home and not hear the pitter patter of many little feet, it was easier for him to cope. But for Andre and I, it meant that we created a little world of our own, one that did not include Mike, and we moved on.

We got used to it.

My divorce has irreparably broken me though. Gifted me with so much doubt, and fear. Simply put, being alone again, starting over…it scares the hell out of me, and I find myself wondering if it wouldn't have been better to just stick it out with Mike. Maybe we could have figured it out…if I had fought harder, if my body would have cooperated. For the last year I have questioned every move I've ever made in my life, every decision that has led me here. But, Aaron, my bestie since high school, has helped me see the truth. It's that same fear that is keeping me trapped, stuck in place and not moving ahead. It kept me in a marriage with a man who didn't want me. Who no longer saw me. Yeah I was married. Had a big house in Buckhead, with a son, nice cars, and fancy things. But, I no longer had love, affection, friendship.

Turning into the driveway of my new, smaller home, and into the garage, I pause for a moment, wondering again if I should tell Aaron about the sheriff. Just the thought of him, and what I did last night has my palms sweating on the steering wheel, and my lady parts tingling in my wrinkled green dress. I want to tell him, simply because I know he will never believe that I had a one-night stand. That I left that beautiful man asleep in his bed. That I barely got out of there without waking him as I fruitlessly searched his bedroom for my thong, but not finding it, decided to just be thankful I found my dress and shoes, and left.

A larger part of me wants to keep this little secret for myself. To keep the memory of the pleasure we shared, locked away inside of me, to pull out when I'm feeling lonely. Which is pretty damn often actually.

"Well if it wasn't a Mike thing, what kind of thing was it? You fall asleep at your parents' house or something?"

Internally vacillating, still unsure of whether I should say something or not, I ultimately decide not to tell him, at least right now, and utter a slow answer to his question.

"Yeah, something like that."

"Party pooper. Well you should stop by later today and have a New Year's drink with us anyway. I'm sure you could use it before you head over to your parents'. That way I can tell you about the cast of characters Milton said were at his party last night. I shit you not, he said there was a guy there who called himself the governor."

Still smarting with a bit of a hangover from the three glasses of bourbon I consumed last night, I wince at the thought of drinking again, but offer him a slight cackle at the odd nickname. "Maybe, I'll stop in later. But not to drink."

"Alright then, I'll see you later."


Hanging up the phone, I ease my sore body from my truck, and slowly amble into the quiet serenity of my deserted house, to face a new year alone.

"There was a man here looking for you."

"Hm?" I ask, mumbling with my mouth stuffed with my mother's customary New Year's Day fare of black eyed peas and cornbread.

"George and Amanda's son, the cop. He was at the party last night. I assume you met since he was over here nice and early looking for you. Even though he never mentioned you by name. He asked about Andre's mother, so I suppose you met when you agreed to the boys' sleepover. He asked for your phone number, which I did not give him by the way, because I don't know why he would need it." My father huffed, looking at me over the rim of his wire framed glasses, scrutinizing my response to his words.

Not even wanting to touch on the reason that Rick would have been looking for me, I answer my dad's question with a question to throw him off. "Wait. The guy who was at the party last night, dressed in a cop's uniform, is your neighbor's son?"

"Yeah. He said he wanted to speak to you about something. Fairly nice young man, recently divorced. You've actually met him before; you were probably too young to remember though. We came out here to visit them once. You know his father George and I served in the military together, and they invited us out to their new house to swim and hang out for the day. You were about 3, he was probably 6 or so. You played in his kiddie pool. Tore off your pull-up and ran naked through their yard." My dad chuckles, a hard deep laugh, shaking the barrel of his wide chest. Seated with my family at the table in my parents' dining room, we've been quickly gobbling up our food as fast as we can in order to catch the football playoff and bowl games on TV, that are scheduled to begin shortly.

"I most certainly do not remember that." I groan at the embarrassing memory, but internally tickled and wondering if Rick remembers. Probably not. Even if he did, he would have no way of knowing that I was the little naked girl who streaked across his backyard. I'm sure my parts look very different now.

"Arthur, she wouldn't have any way of remembering that. It was cute though. You know there was a brief moment where Amanda and I kind of hoped you and Rick would date and get married. It was foolish though. We lived too far away then, and didn't keep in touch that often. But it might have been nice." Wistfully my mother drops that little nugget into the air, and it quite literally catches me off guard. I can't even find an answer for it, so I don't even try. I just continue to eat.

"My dad made sure that didn't happen. Right, Mom?" Andre smirks, still feeling the unnecessary need to somehow protect his father and the memory of my long dissolved marriage.

"Mmhm. Yep." I nod, not wanting to even think about Mike right now.

"He turned out very handsome, George and Amanda's son. Don't you think so, Michonne? Amanda introduced him to a nice girl last night. She hopes they hit it off. You know speaking of being setup…"


"Mom and Dad are setting you up, sis. Surprise! Dad dug up some dude to help you get rid of those cobwebs." Noah laughs, pointing at me from the other end of the table where he's seated next to Andre, who's also laughing, though I'm sure he has no idea why. They are 5 years apart in age, and sometimes he acts more juvenile than Andre does.

"I don't need to be fixed up with anyone. I can find my own date."

"And yet, here you are…alone." Noah snarks, the only one amused by his teasing.

"Hush, Noah. You just never know, Michonne. Your father met him hitting balls at the golf range last week. He's handsome. Accomplished. He's the new DA for King County. Unmarried, no kids. What's his name again, Arthur?"

"His name is Shane, and he'll be here in a bit. So, I expect all of the Alexanders, and the little Anthony down there at the end of the table to be on their best behavior. Understand?"

"Dad, I-"

"Don't worry, Michonne. He's just coming over to watch some football. And if you hit it off, great. If not, no sweat. But, you need to get back out there. I wanna see my munchkin smile again. Ok?" My father nods in my direction, a wide smile lighting his face, and animating the lines at the corner of his eyes.

"Ok." I confirm. Though I don't feel ok about it. I may have bluffed my way through a one night stand with Rick, there was no emotional investment required there. Not really. Our bodies connected, and yes it felt exciting and natural to be with him, but…he doesn't even know my name. That fact may be shameful for some, but for me it served as protection. My divorce taught me how to protect my heart, to survive. To my parents this lonely path I'm walking may not be living, but it's a lot less painful than where I've been.

Wiping my hands across on the napkin in my lap, I scan the faces of my family, the smiles and smirks, the frown twisting my son's lips and dipping his thick eyebrows over his glasses, much like it did last night when he discovered me in the kitchen with Rick. I can tell from here that he's not happy about the idea of me dating. Not at all. I always get the distinct impression that he thinks that his father and I will eventually get back together. Sorry, kiddo, that will never happen.

Silently communicating with my son from down the table, our family dinner that is quickly wrapping up, is interrupted by the chiming of the doorbell. Suddenly frozen in my seat, I mentally begin preparing myself for how I'm going to dispatch of what I'm sure is going to be a short lived, and improperly matched acquaintance.

"Mr. Alexander, sir, it's good to see you again. Thank you for inviting me over. I brought a bottle of wine, that Malbec you suggested. And some beer for the house." A loud voice booms from the entry foyer, with a very clear southern inflection, catching my ear in the dining room.

"It's good that you could make it, Shane. Come on in and meet the family. Thanks for the drinks. Michonne will love this wine."

Rooted to my seat in a grumpy slouch, I don't even bother getting up to greet this guy, certain that regardless of whoever walks through that door, and unless it is Idris Elba, nothing will come of this setup. But, as a man about my father's height, nearly six feet, with swaths of wavy dark hair brushed back from his forehead on the top, and tapered a bit on the back and sides, walks around the corner from the foyer and into the dining room, I'm considering changing my mind. Maybe.

"Shane, this is my baby girl, my daughter Michonne. Munchkin, this is Shane Walsh. He's the DA around here, and he's got a damn good golf swing. You two come meet me in the TV room after you get yourselves acquainted." My dad commands, sneaking off down the hall, and leaving Shane standing in the doorway, alone with me.

"Hi, Michonne, or is it Munchkin?" He laughs, then thrusts his large hand out towards me. "Either way, it's nice to meet you."

"Nice. You can call me Michonne." Standing to greet him and accepting his hand in mine, I try to shake his in welcome, but instead he lifts my hand to his lips and delivers a firm kiss to my knuckles. "Thank you." Schooling a small grin that is trying its hardest to take over my face in response to his antics, I withdraw my hand from his.

"My pleasure. You're just as lovely as your father said you were. Stunning even."

"Again, thank you. You're quite the charmer."

"I try. Your father tells me you are a lawyer also?" He asks, in a wide legged stance, his blue jeans hugging his thighs, and his hoodie pulled snug across his expansive chest as he crosses his arms. Impressive.

"I am by trade, but it's not really what I do anymore. I created an app, that I kind of got rich off of. It allows you to speak to it from your smartphone or tablet, kind of like Siri, and tell it what your legal scenario or issue is, and tells you what your legal rights are in that situation. It's called 'Know My Rights'. So I manage that, and I still take pro-bono cases here and there to stay sharp."

"That's you? I've heard of it." He nods, seemingly impressed. "Brilliant, beautiful…" Dancing his eyes in an admiring sweep up and down my body, lingering on my chest, then my hips, he stops and sucks in a deep breath, his lips pulled into his mouth. "You've got all the Bs covered don't you?"

"Which other Bs might you be talking about, Mr. Walsh?"

"You gonna make me call out your other…ahem, bountiful assets in your parents' house?" He angles himself towards me and asks, his lips just a breath away from my own. I suck in a sharp breath at the brash audacity of his compliments, and then I smile. Again. Because my new year has been going off with a bang. Over the last 24 hours I have had more attention from the opposite sex than I had all last year, and I kind of like it. It feels like I might be reconnecting with a part of myself that has been submerged under being a wife and mother, a lawyer for so long, that now she's itching to come out and play. Why not let her have a little fun?

Staring into the abyss of his eyes for a moment, I have to admit that my father has done well. They are dark, nearly black, deep set and slightly slanted on the ends, resting under thick arched brows, as dusky as the inky waves of his hair. A large nose dominates his face, with a hint of scruff from his beard peeking through on his jaw and chin. He is not pretty at all. Nothing like my sexy, pretty boy, sheriff, who is all hard angles, and lean muscle, with his sharp aquiline nose, bearded cheeks, piercing blue eyes, and high forehead. In contrast, Shane is the epitome of rough masculinity, with his thick, stocky build packaged in a wine colored hoodie, displaying his support for the Crimson Tide.

It seems as though he's trying to downplay his rough edges that bleed through the polish of his upstanding DA veneer. But to me, it's easy to identify. His wolfish grin does not soften him at all. Instead it only plays on the dichotomy of his polished, DA persona, against the clearly more mischievous set of his roguish mouth. I'm…intrigued.

"Roll tide, huh?"

"Buckeyes, huh?"

"Well my father went there." I shrug, tugging at my form fitting scarlet and grey, Ohio State University jersey.

"Shit, girl, the way you're filling out that jersey you're making me wanna go there too!" He rasps, leaning his body in to conspiratorially whisper in my ear. Drawing back to see the affect of his words, satisfaction sets on his wicked lips, seeing how his words have created a clear smile on my own.

"We shouldn't hang out here alone for too long, or my mother might start planning our wedding."

"I'm free next Saturday if you are."


"Kidding. But, maybe we can go out next Saturday, just a date. I have a friend's wedding to go to, and I would love to have you on my arm for it."

"Sure, why not. We can exchange info and then you can text me the details so I can get it on my calendar."

"Should be fun."

Walking into the TV room with Shane close behind, my family is already gathered around the television, ready for some football.

"Glad you two could join us. Looks like you're getting along just fine already. Come on in and have a seat, Shane, so I can introduce you to the rest of the family. Munchkin, don't hog our guest all to yourself."


"I don't mind, Mr. Alexander. Munchkin here can hog me all she wants."

"You can not call me that. Only my daddy calls me that." I offer as I begin to walk away from him, and towards the couch, looking to get a seat next to my son.

Waiting a beat, probably watching me prance and sway in my skinny jeans towards the couch, I can hear him mumble quietly under his breath. "How about if I let you call me daddy? Can I call you Munchkin then?"

"So, you like that guy or something?"

"What guy?"

"Honestly, I don't know, Mom. Pick one. Seems a lot of guys have their eyes on you lately."

"Andre Miles Anthony, what are you talking about? You know how to use your words, say exactly what you mean. But watch how you speak to me."

"Sorry. I just… Yesterday you were talking to Carl's dad, and it seemed like you you were into him. Then he showed up this morning asking for my mom, trying to get your phone number from Nana and Pops. They didn't give it to him, but I did cause he's cool. He hung out and talked to me and Carl for a little bit before they left. But this guy…I don't know. It's like he's too…aggressive or something. Why did sit next to you so close on the couch? He had his arm around your shoulders and stuff. It made me uncomfortable."

"I see. So, is it that you don't want me to date at all, or you don't want me to date Shane? It sounds like you're ok with Rick, so I'm a little confused here."

"I don't know… If I had my way you wouldn't need to date at all because you and Dad would still be together. We could be a family again. I know he took that job in New York, and you guys are divorced but, you guys could have worked it out eventually. Maybe?"

Silence engulfs the car at the declaration of Andre's thoughts, and the loaded but hopeful question he eventually poses. A question that holds all the whimsical wants of an adolescent who yearns for his life to be simple again. Not hopping on a plane just to have a little time with his dad. Not watching as his mother tries to salvage the ashes of her forgotten confidence and power. For things to be like they once were, when things were much simpler.

Each of us now seem lost in the weight of my son's spoken thoughts. How do I explain to my son that yes, I like both of these men? Yes, I enjoyed the attention, and that I'm not sorry for it. I have nothing to apologize for. Part of me wants to rail at the adolescent selfishness of his concerns. Why is it so unthinkable that a man would desire me, and that I could actually find a way to move on and find love again? Another part of me, the part of me that still sees the chubby, cherubic baby that used to gaze lovingly up at me as he fed from my breast. The boy who has relied on me through every moment of his life, to guide him through his physical and emotional development. Just like he does right now.

Briefly, as I watch the black asphalt of the road and its yellow hash marks disappear under the tires of my truck, the light from the lampposts illuminates the handsome face of my son pressed against the passenger side window, and I pull back from unloading on him my initial inclination to return his questions with a barrage of my own. No, those questions are not for him, they are for me to ask and answer for myself. I know this. He's not concerned with my self-doubt, he's worried about the continuous movement of his world, quaking underneath his oversized feet. My boy is questioning his life's stability.

In recognition of the youth and immaturity coloring his innocent wonderings, I rub my hand through the tight, kinky curls on his head. It's time for a haircut. It's something his father would have had scheduled, and they would not have missed their bi-weekly excursion to the barber. Now, it's another expectation that his mother has to somehow remember to seamlessly meet.

"Andre, honey. Your father and I…we are never going to get back together. I know that scares you. I know that hurts you. But, I will remind you what your father and I told you when we announced our divorce, this has nothing to do with you. It's about us not being able to remember why were together anymore. We simply didn't have the same love between us, and that's ok. We grew apart. But, we will always have you, and you will always have us, and our love. Me dating someone else, your father probably dating someone else, none of that changes the fact that we will always be family, and that we love you."

"I know, Mom. I know you love me. I just… it's weird watching these guys who don't look or act anything like Dad, interested in you. And, I know what they want, Mom. I'm young, but I've had the talk with Dad about guys and girls. They only want one thing, and I don't ever want to see you hurt again, Mom. Not like before. I remember."

"Well, Andre, you don't need to worry about that. I realize that you are turning into a man yourself, and that you have some awareness of what goes on with a man and woman. I'm not stupid. Remember, I'm the one who caught you and Cyndie on my couch one afternoon when you thought I was at work."


"That's my job, Andre, to be in your business. To monitor your relationships, and to protect you from making foolish choices. I appreciate that you want to protect me also, but, I've got this. I think." I chuckle, wanting to lighten the tenor of the conversation as I can feel the prickly sting of tears threatening to gloss over my eyes. At this time in my life, I honestly can't handle getting dragged back into the emotional pit I had to crawl out of after my divorce. I won't survive it again.

"I've got your back, Mom. And I hear you. I guess you're telling me to fall back, and I will, but that Shane guy? I don't know about him. Mr. Grimes though, he's more your speed."

"Oh yeah? What makes you say that?" I ask, curious at my son's assessment of the sheriff.

"Well like I said, he talked to me, and to Carl. And he didn't talk down to us like we're little kids or anything. He was direct about wanting your phone number and why, he said he wants to get to know you. The Shane guy didn't even speak to me more than to say hi. I just get a bad vibe from him is all."

Thinking over Andre's words, I have to admit that he usually reads people very well. Andre has always had a perceptive awareness about people. Aaron says it's like he can see the negative or positive energy in folks, and given some past events I have to agree.

When Andre was 2 and I had begun law school, Mike and I hired a nanny to help take care of Andre. She was a young woman from Brazil, who was at UGA getting her Bachelor's in Early Child Education. On paper, and when we interviewed her she was perfect. But on her very first day in our home, she was a disaster. Andre did not take to her, as he cried and wailed when Mike and I tried to leave the house. And Mike noted that he found her in our home office when he came home, going through the desk and filing cabinet drawers. Basically, she lasted one day, and had we paid attention to the way that Andre would push away from her when she reached for him, or how he cried when we left for the day, we could have avoided her altogether.

While I'm giving Andre's words some thought my phone rings. Accepting the call on the in car phone system, my assistant's voice filters through the air.


"Michonne, hi. I hate to call you so late in the evening, but I needed to let you know that I booked an early morning appointment for you in the office with a Glen Rhee. It's about a pro bono case that I think you would be interested in. I vetted him, and went through the details with him the other day, but since you have been on vacation I didn't want to disturb you."

"Ok. What's this case about?"

"Mr. Rhee says that he was in King County visiting his girlfriend, a Maggie Greene, last summer. He was leaving her apartment one night, heading back into the city, when he was pulled over a few blocks away from her apartment by the Sheriff's Department. He says that the deputy, a Spencer Monroe, would not tell him why he pulled him over, but told him to step out of the car after obtaining his driver's license and insurance information. Mr. Rhee stepped out of the car, and the deputy remarked that he smelled of marijuana, then proceeded to search his car. He says that he never gave consent, and when he reminded the deputy of this, stating that he knows that the deputy must have consent or a warrant, the deputy told him he has probable cause. When Mr. Rhee continued to protest, the deputy accosted him, telling him that he was under arrest, and hit him with his club numerous times. Mr. Rhee suffered cracked ribs, a broken arm, and multiple bruises and contusions."

"Why isn't this a criminal case, Milton?"

"Apparently the old DA, who retired in the fall, did not believe that there was sufficient evidence to prove misconduct on the deputy's part. There is dashcam footage, but it is grainy and hard to make out what's happening. Given that, no charges were filed. The deputy was on paid leave for a month, but he is back on the job."

"Interesting. So, Mr. Rhee is looking to go after the deputy for a civil claim instead. Smart. Ok, thanks for the heads up, Milton. I will be in the office around 8 tomorrow morning. What time is my appointment with Mr. Rhee?"


"Alright. I will see you when I get in."

Damn, love or lust
Damn, all of us

Give me a run for my money
There is nobody, no one to outrun me
(Another world premier!)
So give me a run for my money
Sipping bubbly, feeling lovely, living lovely
Just love me
I wanna be with you, ayy, I wanna be with
I wanna be with you, ayy, I wanna be with
I wanna be with you

I love this song. Kendrick Lamar is a genius, and right now his words are my own. No, I'm not in love right now, but my conversation in the car with Andre has me thinking about love. About the sudden prospects that have presented themselves, and what to make of them. About how open to the idea I may actually be. Could I see myself in love again? I honestly don't know, and I'm not sure how I could cross that chasm to ever lay myself bare enough to get over the gulf between me love. My love for Mike was so certain and absolute, it burned with the whitest flame of purity. But now I'm left with only the grimy soot and burns from that same fire.

Sipping down the velvety smooth texture of the Argentinian Malbec Shane brought to my parents' house, I drop my head back on the edge of the bathtub. Rolling my tongue through the dark liquid, appreciating the dry seductive bite of the wine, I close my eyes. I'm brain weary at this point. Tired of thinking and over thinking. Rick. Shane. Rick. Shane. For some reason both men are clouding my thoughts, and preventing me from catching this last chance of relaxation before heading back to work tomorrow. Attacking my own thoughts and opinions on each, looking for a weakness in my own arguments and rationale, then parrying to deflect and save myself from even heading down that path. Any thoughts regarding either man are wholly premature at this juncture. But I can't stop my brain from wandering…and remembering.

After Andre went up for bed, I sat in my office for a bit, preparing myself for work tomorrow, and going over a few questions I wanted to be sure to ask of Mr. Rhee in the morning. Right before I left my office and turned out the light, my phone buzzed with a text. It was Shane sending over the details for our date next weekend.

Shane: What address can I pick you up at?

Michonne: How about we meet at the wedding? You said it's in King County, so it wouldn't make any sense for you to drive all the way out here and turn right back around. Then bring me home again. 

Shane: Maybe I wasn't going to take you back home. You might find me so charming that you want to stay around for a little while. 

Michonne: Not on a first date I wouldn't

Shane: You've never had that strong of a connection with someone on a first date? What does it matter if it's the first date or the tenth?

Michonne: …

I guess he kind of had me there. I did just have my very first one night stand last night, and yet, nothing felt awkward or shameful about it. Every thing with Rick felt organic, like our bodies had known each other before. Rick somehow knew where to touch, to kiss, to bite. But thinking over Andre's words makes me a lot more wary with Shane than I evidently was with Rick.

Shane: You still there? 

Michonne: Yeah. I will meet you there. Just text me the address. 

Shane: Hey, I didn't mean anything by that…I just really wanna get to know you better. I'm a nice guy, you'll see. 

At the same time that I was preparing my thumbs to respond, my phone began to vibrate in my hands. An unknown number lit up the screen.


"Hi, can I speak to Mi-Mishawn please?" It was him. My sheriff. Like the savory, yet aromatic sweetness of the bourbon I drank at his house last night, Rick's deep gravelly voice permeated the air with the sound of it coming through my phone's speaker.

"May I ask who is calling?" I ask, not wanting him to know that I couldn't forget the rumble of his rough southern brogue for all of my days.

"Yeah, this is Rick. It's you isn't it, mystery lady?"


"Of running away. Yes, you are."

"I didn't run. I casually walked. And it's Mi-chonne."

"It's beautiful, just like you. And you didn't have to walk away. I wanted to fix you breakfast, spend some more time together." Blowing out a breath, his deep voice seems to drop even lower. "I was disappointed to wake up without you in my arms, but I understand."

"I'm sure you say that to all the girls."

"Nah. You're the only girl."

"Somehow I think the blonde from that party would beg to differ." I toss back, his returning silence an obvious hint that I have caught him off guard.

"You saw that, huh? That was the first time I ever met that woman. I was setup by my mother."

"I understand, Rick, it's ok. You can be with whoever you want. You don't belong to me, Sheriff."

"What if I want to?" A slight laugh pushes from his mouth, and a pause ensues. "I can still smell you on my sheets. The pillows… My beard. I remember how you tasted on my tongue, how soft your little body was in my hands. Michonne, if you think I'm going to let you go so easy… you're wrong."

Speechless, without the proper words, again, I let his words hang in the air between us as Kendrick Lamar raps in the background.

Give me a run for my money
There is nobody, no one to outrun me
So give me a run for my money
Sipping bubbly, feeling lovely, living lovely
Just love me
I wanna be with you, ayy, I wanna be with
I wanna be with you, ayy, I wanna be with
I wanna be with you

Words. I always talk to Andre about their power. To sway, convince, persuade. They don't call incantations spells, and putting together the letters to form a word, spelling for nothing, and right now I feel like Rick Grimes is once again putting a spell on me. It's not like he hasn't already bewitched me once, with his bright blue eyes, his wicked tongue, and that glorious cock of his. Behind the lids of my eyes I can almost see him, as though he's in the bathroom with me. His manhood long, erect, arching up high and nearly touching his belly button. The sight of it's length causing my mouth to water with want, an overwhelming desire to feel its heft and girth filling my mouth, my pussy. I should have tasted him too, so that I could also recall his flavor on my tongue.

The candles around the tub shroud the room in a seductive sepia toned glow, with only the skirting of the tiny flames, flickering in the shadows on the wall.

"When can I see you again?"

"Rick, I don't know if this is a good idea."

"It is."

"What if it's not? You didn't even know my name until my son told you."

"That doesn't matter. I've already touched and tasted the sweetest parts of you, Michonne. Let me get to know the rest of you. Then we can decide if this is a good idea or not. I promise you won't be disappointed."

Under the bubbles, skimming the tops of the heated water, floating across my perky aroused nipples, my core is aching at the promise in his words. Sliding my hand down my neck, over the rise of my heaving breasts, and down the slope of my belly, my fingers tickle my swelling bud. Rick did this to me. His words. The bold assurance of his vow. A light graze is all I can withstand before I'm sinking further under the water, my thighs spreading as I drop my fingers lower.

"Last night was good, Sheriff."

"It was great. You were great. I've never met a woman like you."

Massaging my petals, they are slick, sticky. The bath water isn't the cause. It's…him.

"I wish you were here right now, Rick." I mutter, any thought of Shane completely erased from my brain. In this moment, Rick is the only man that exists.

"Is that what you want? I'll be wherever you want me to be. I wanna take care of you, Michonne. That's my word."

"Mmmm…" I moan. Massaging away the ache of need, want, I almost tell him to come to me. To put out this fire that's causing a molten lava slip of my essence across my fingers. But doubt shows its gnarly head and pulls me back. Can this one night stand actually survive the glaring light of day? Could it go the distance? "Soon. In a few more days."

"A few more days?"

"I'll call you."

"You've ruined me, Michonne. I've got to see you again. Soon." He commands on a laugh.

"In a few more days, Sheriff. Good night."

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