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Until We Fall

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She wakes, not only to the familiar fabric of soft silky sheets that are embracing her naked body. Nor was it the morning light trickling in through the blinds that deviously assaulted her violet eyes. It was the extra set of thighs that were pressed against hers. The arm of her lover wrapped protectively around her thin, curvy waist. Their naked bodies blanketing one another with the warmth that they were always content with. Shedding herself of the remaining glimpses of a dream, her eyes were still shut in the heat of the covers with the warmness of her lover’s naked breasts mushing against the flesh of her back.

It was all of a sudden that she felt the aching in her skull that ebbed and flowed like a cold tide.

With a heavy sigh slipping from the seam of her pinkish lips, she wastes no time in lazily placing her fingers over the hand wrapped around her waist. Rubbing a thin finger across the soft skin of her lover’s forearm, a small smile tilted at the corners of her mouth. Without a second thought, she quietly moves her foot and rubs the tip of her freshly pedicured toes over the supple skin of the woman’s leg. The corners of her mouth tilt higher at the feel of her sweetheart’s body shivering against hers.

Megara Korso always knew that it was no accident that after every Saturday night, she would find herself waking up in her sexy companion’s bed the next morning.

Saturday nights were their date nights.

Nights that consisted of Top 40’s music that always dominated the atmosphere with smoke that was twisted in artistic ways that formed curls in the gloom that were illuminated only by the age-speckled bar lights. Nights that were often filled with hundreds of conversations told in loud, drunken voices. A massive stampede of warm bodies jumping up and down in the crowd, pumping their fists in the air while they screamed at the top of their lungs to Katy Perry and Rihanna.

They drank three bottles of Sangria poured in pint glasses, five or six shot glasses of whiskey and vodka, two porn star shots to wash down the bitter taste that trickled down their throats, followed by a night of intense dancing and grinding in tangled limbs, and two extra shots of tequila to end the night.

Immediately, the images of last night play out in her brain.

The heavy drinking after a long hard day of work. The drunken men - old and young, some were even eighteen - insisting on buying them drinks in exchange for a wild night of ‘fun’ back at their places. The way how their bodies moved effortlessly together as they danced, exchanging lips and tongues with one another, the way how they stumbled into a cab, making out furiously in the back seat while the cab driver eyed them lustfully in his rear view mirror that almost cost them their lives. The drunken make out session in the elevator, only to stumble their way back to her darling’s apartment and strip each other of their heels and dresses and engage in their own wild night of fun for the remainder of the night until the crack of dawn came.

A low moan slipped from Meg’s lips again. The hangover feeling like a balloon under her cranium, slowly being inflated with the pressure mounting. She wasn’t sure what time it was, nor did she give a damn if they had overslept. Right now, none of that really seemed to be of much concern to her. She sinks her body further into the mattress, wishing for the wave of nausea to pour out of her system. After all, this wasn’t the first time she had experienced a rather unpleasant hangover. For some reason, this one seemed to be the worst out of all the ones she’s experienced in her lifetime. And frankly, she knew that this wouldn’t be her last time.

After a few minutes, she finally manages to open her eyes and focused them on a single spot on the ceiling, hoping to put a stop to her impending dizziness. And just as she’s about to shift her body to the farther side of the bed, her lover’s arm wraps tighter around her frame, pulling her closer towards her and preventing her from leaving. Then Meg’s body shivers and convulses at the feel of those full lips pressing kisses amongst her shoulder. A light but croaky chuckle laced with a soft moan slips through Meg’s lips.

“Mm…you awake?” The woman’s husky voice mumbles into her hair.

“…I am now.”

“Hm…good.” The woman murmurs into her shoulder. “How’re you feeling?”

Meg manages a single, exhausted snort. “Like a hammer is bashing my brains out.” She groans and buries her face deeper into the pillow. A husky chuckle vibrates against the crook of her neck, and then a pair of lips press softly amongst her shoulder blade.

“Bad hangover again?”

Another groan. “Why do we always get the worst hangovers?”

“By we, you mean you?”

You drank just as much as I did.” Meg mutters miserably into her pillow. “If not more.”

“I know.” The woman stifles a giggle. “I guess that’s the beauty of having a strong liver.”

Meg huffs under her breath. “Damn you and that iron liver of yours.”

There’s a hot breath on her neck, then the tender brush of lips soon follow. Burning as they make contact with her neck, and just like that, Meg finds herself losing all rational thought. Despite the fact that she had gotten used to this, Meg was always amazed at how just one touch of her lover’s lips could hitch her breath, or cause her body to elicit such sweet shivers. The other woman’s kisses become harder, more urgent, and Meg moans into the pillow at the sudden sharp sting of teeth against the tendons of her neck.

“Mm…babe…” Meg whimpers. “S-stop…”

The other woman’s chuckle was muffled by the layer of skin that’s against her mouth. “You like that, baby?” She teases lightly with a husky whisper to her ear.

Meg has to force herself to ignore the question. Because there was absolutely no doubt that she wasn’t not enjoying feeling those full lips sucking, nipping and now gently biting into her flesh. ‘Damn those luscious lips of hers’ Meg thinks miserably to herself as more moans rise from her vocal cords and spill out between the seam of her own lips. Her breathing grows heavy as her lover licks a hot stripe up the side of her neck and traces her wet tongue gently along her jaw line. Her eyelids squeeze shut as she fights against another moan that’s begging to be released. Then a sharp gasp mixed with a delicate whimper flies out of her mouth as the hand on her waist slides higher up the curve of her side and her lover’s fingers softly twists the nipple on her breast.

“I love seeing you turned on like this.” The woman whispers fervently with a grin. “I love everything about you.”

Meg huffs another moan and a breath. But she whines slightly as the hand from her breast withdraws. Then when she feels her body being rolled onto her back, a pair lips capture her own and she wastes no time in allowing herself to welcome them. Her lover’s body is now mounted on top of hers, her curvy hips straddling her own, soft breasts pressed against one another’s, and Meg wraps her arms around the woman’s neck. Her lips were always warm and full, and they had the slightest taste of mint on them. Her lover’s hands were resting on Meg’s curvy waist and she pulled their bodies closer. Their tongues danced delicately with one another’s, and Meg moans at the contact. When they finally break apart for air, Meg rests her forehead against her lover’s and gathers some much needed oxygen. And as she slowly opens her eyelids, her lips tilt into a lazy smile at the beautiful woman gazing adoringly down into her violet eyes.

“Hey Beautiful.”

Meg chuckles softly. “Hey Sexy.”

Meg couldn’t deny that Esmeralda Ayres was one of the most beautiful women she’s ever laid eyes on. She was that and more. She was the kind of woman that most females either admired or envied. Yes. She was all woman, and that was the main reason why Meg was so drawn to her. But Esmeralda still had the exuberance of youth, which was most likely thanks to her striking Latin look. She had a kind of understated beauty that made her darker skin completely flawless. Her hair was black like Raven, with long luscious curls.

And her eyes.

Her eyes were the first characteristics that stood out the most. They were the glimmering color of emerald. They were the kind of emerald green that pushed its way through the piles of gritty snow to remind you that spring was coming. The kind that brings hope and life no matter what has happened. And looking into those eyes, right away when they had first met, Meg could see that. And Esmeralda only knew that she could too.

Unable to contain themselves any longer, Esmeralda brings her hands to frame them gently on either side of Meg’s cheeks and she leans down and brings their lips together in another passionate, albeit fiery kiss. Meg finds her hands work their way around Esmeralda’s body, feeling each curve and each line along her perfect figure. She continues lying on her back as Esmeralda’s body matches her body’s form. They pull apart briefly, take shallow breaths, and then Esmeralda leans down and softly places sweet kisses up and down Meg’s neck. Meg lets out little whimpers of anticipation at the feel of those full lips nipping at her skin. Then Esmeralda works her way back to her tender, smooth lips.

“Mmm…Gods I love you.” Meg sighs in between kisses.

Esmeralda giggles softly. “I love you more.” She nuzzles their noses together. “Is your head still hurting?”

“Yea.” Meg miserably mumbles with a slight dent in her brow and brings a hand to her throbbing head, dragging it down her face. “Ugh…I really hate these stupid hangovers.”

Another giggle as Esmeralda gently brushes the curly fringe of Meg’s bang from her face. “My poor baby.” She coos and places a soft kiss to her forehead. “Maybe I should get you an icepack or something.”

Meg frowns at her through the cracks of her fingers. “I’m a big girl.” She lets out a childish huff. “Do you always have to keep ‘babying’ me so much?”

Esmeralda chuckles. “I see someone’s a little cranky.”

“You would be too if you were having a hangover from hell.”

“And still cheeky as always.” Esmeralda uses her finger to softly stroke Meg’s cheek. “I forget sometimes that you’re not a morning person.”

“And that still surprises you?”

Esmeralda giggles delicately yet again. “Hey…” She places a sweet kiss on Meg’s eyebrow. “You know if there was anything I could do, I would do it for you in a heartbeat, right?”

“Hmm…like you always do.” Meg sighs a breathy sigh as she lightly runs her fingers up and down Esmeralda’s arms. Then a smirk tilts at the corners of her mouth. “You said you would do anything to make me feel better?”

“Maybe…” Esmeralda lifts a brow. “Depends on what you have in mind.”

“Surprise me.”

“If you’re hoping for another round of sex, then forget it.”

Meg pouts, bottom lip quivering. “Why?”

“Well for one, my body is still sore from last night.” She grins. “And two, you kinda tired me out.”

“So…”

“So? Babe, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m kinda getting old.” She smirks. “I’m not as young as I used to be.”

Now it was Meg’s turn to cock a brow. “Oh please.” She rolls her eyes. “You’re only two years older than me.”

“That still makes me old enough to be ancient.”

“Okay, now you’re just being ridiculous.”

“Am I?”

Meg frowns. “Aren’t you supposed to be making me feel better?”

“I’m not giving you sex.”

Meg lets out an impatient groan. “Ugh! Well then can’t you at least…” She pauses for second. “I dunno…do something that involves using your mouth?”

Esmeralda raises a brow. “…Like eat you out?”

Meg’s eyes light up almost instantly. “Can you?”

“No.”

A scowl. “You’re despicable.”

“You love it.”

“Do I?”

“You do.” Esmeralda chuckles and kisses Meg’s forehead. “Just how I love you.”

“You tryna butter me up again?”

“Hmm…” A kiss to her temple. “Is it working?”

Meg’s breath hitches in her throat as Esmeralda’s places another tender kiss on the corner of her eye. “…Maybe.”

Esmeralda gives another kiss to her nose. “Any luck?”

Meg smirks. “Nope.”

She kisses her ear as Meg flutters her eyelids closed and sighs deeply as Esmeralda’s lips lightly nibble on her earlobe. “…What about now?”

“Mmm…” Meg fights against the low moan that’s begging to be released. “…It’s…” A short whimper. “…Getting there…”

Esmeralda’s lips pull into a grin and she uses her tongue to trace lightly along Meg’s jawline. Then she starts kissing and nipping at her neck, only provoking more whimpers and moans to pour from Meg’s mouth. Though Esmeralda finds herself groaning slightly at the feel of Meg’s nails slowly digging into her skin, she ignores it.

“Now?” She murmurs against her neck.

“Mmm…fine.” Meg strains against a groan. “You win.”

“Good.”

Esmeralda smiles as she softly kisses Meg’s lips, who was eager to return it. They share another long, sensual kiss with another, tongues wrestling for dominance.

“Mmm…did I-“ Meg says between kisses. “Did I mention how much I-“ Another kiss. “How much I love you.”

Esmeralda chuckles. “And I love you.” She places another kiss to her forehead. Then a thought suddenly comes to mind. “Babe, what time is it?”

Meg frowns. “How should I know?”

A scoff followed by the rolling of eyes was Esmeralda’s response as she shakes her head and forces herself to lean over and grab her phone from the side table next to her bed. She uses her thumb to press the little ‘home’ button on her IPhone. When the screen comes to life and her eyes scan over the numbers of the time, her eyes widen and her jaw drops.

“Shit! 11:45 already?!” She gasps. “Fuck!”

“Jeez. Language, babe.” Meg smirks with a raised eyebrow. “It’s only quarter to twelve. It’s not like we have work today or anything.”

“I know that.”

Esmeralda grumbles as she miserably leans back over to set her phone down. Meg is confused and slightly irritated when Esmeralda rolls herself off of Meg’s body and lays on her own side. Meg slowly turns to lay on her side as she watches her girlfriend with a skeptical look.

“Are you seriously mad that we slept in?” Meg props herself up on her elbow. “Look, I know you usually hate waking up later than nine am.” She rests her head against her hand. “But we’ve slept past eleven before. No big deal.”

Esmeralda doesn’t respond to that. She’s staring up at the ceiling while her hands are resting against her stomach. It was the way how her expression suddenly hardened that was beginning to have Meg question whether or not if she should’ve just keep her mouth shut.

“Come on, babe.” Meg decides to ignore her gut and make the best of it. She slides closer towards her girlfriend and nuzzles her nose in the crook of Esmeralda’s neck and shoulder. “Lighten up.” She nibbles on Esmeralda’s neck, who’s still refusing to budge. “Neither of us have to go into work today, so…that could give us more time to…” She pauses as she slowly slides her fingers down between Esmeralda’s thighs. “…have some more fun…hmm?” She kisses her neck again and whispers in her ear, “What do you say?”

Esmeralda says nothing, but winces at the feel of Meg’s lips against her neck. Immediately, Meg finds her lips curving into a grin.

“You like that?” Meg whispers seductively in Esmeralda’s ear. “Hmm?...Do you?“

“Meg stop.”

Meg chuckles. “You want more don’t you?“

“I said stop, Meg.”

It wasn’t only the tone in Esmeralda’s voice that had forced Meg’s smile to disappear from her face. But it was that, plus the fact that Esmeralda had nudged her away. A frown dents her brow and Meg can’t help but feel as though she had done something wrong.

“What was that for?” Meg frowns.

Esmeralda groans. “It’s nothing.”

“Don’t give me that, Esme.” Meg spits in a harsh tone. “What’s wrong with you?”

Again, Esmeralda refuses to say anything. And instead, she decides that scowling up at the ceiling was a much better answer.

“You know what, fine.” Meg sighs as she shifts her body and rolls her eyes. “I’ll just go then.”

“You don’t have to do that.” Esmeralda finally spoke.

“Well if you’re suddenly going to act like this,” Meg looks over her shoulder to frown at her, “then maybe I should.”

Meg barely sticks her leg out from under the covers, when a pair of hands grip onto her waist and gently pull her back from the edge of the bed. She tries to shrug the hands away, but she knew damn well that Esmeralda’s grip had their strong hold. She has no choice but to give up, and to allow Esmeralda’s lips to press softly against her shoulder, as Meg just lays on her side and frowns miserably up at the ceiling.

“I’m sorry.” Esmeralda murmurs affectionately into Meg’s ear. “I didn’t mean to get upset with you.”

Meg sighs. “Of course you didn’t. You never do.” There’s a sarcastic edge to her tone. “But I always end up getting the short end of the stick.”

Now Esmeralda sighs, a regrettable one. And deep down, she couldn’t even deny the fact that there was truth to her girlfriend’s words. So as always, she places another kiss to Meg’s neck and slides her arm around Meg’s waist. She pulls Meg closer towards her so that her breasts are pressed up against Meg’s back. She traces her thumb gently over the flesh of Meg’s soft abdomen, but there was some definition to those small muscles that were just coming in.

“I know.” Esmeralda admits softly. “And I’m sorry, babe.”

Meg snorts. “You gonna try and make it up to me with sex again?”

“Nice try.” Esmeralda smirks, picking up on that line. “But that’s not going to happen.”

“…Worth a shot I guess.”

“Are you really still that horny?”

Meg feels her cheeks flush, then nonchalantly shrugs her shoulders. “Maybe.”

Esmeralda chuckles. “When did you turn into such a sex feline?”

Meg couldn’t resist tilting the corners of her mouth upward. “It’s not my fault that sex with you is so addictive.”

“Oh really?” Esmeralda cocks a brow. “Scale of one to ten…how addictive exactly?” She kisses Meg’s neck again.

Meg utters a sigh laced with a breathy moan. Then a thought comes to mind and suddenly, her brows dent to a frown. “Stop trying to butter me up.” She quips. “I’m still mad at you.”

“I know.” Esmeralda sighs. “I was hoping to lighten up the mood, that’s all.”

“Well, here’s a thought.” Meg begins. “You can ‘lighten up the mood’ by telling me what the hell your problem is.”

“…Guess I deserved that one.”

“You think?”

“Babe, I’m not upset with you, okay?” Esmeralda reasons softly. “I’m just…” a pause, “a little frustrated, that’s all.”

“Frustrated with what? With the fact that we slept past eleven? That’s what you’re upset about?” Meg scoffs. “Give me a break, Esme.” She rolls her eyes. “You know we always sleep in on Sunday mornings.”

Esmeralda frowns. “Look, you’re annoyed with me, I get it.” She pauses. “But you being snippy isn’t making it any easier for me to explain.”

“Well you were being snippy with me just a second ago.”

“Okay, yes. I realize that.” Esmeralda fights the urge to also roll her eyes also. “But there was a good reason.”

“You had a good reason for shoving me away like that?” Meg glares up at the ceiling as she spits the words out. “Yea, that’s very convincing.”

“Meg.” Esmeralda sighs. “Look, I don’t want us getting into another fight, okay?”

Meg says nothing as she frowns miserably up at the ceiling. Deep down, there was a part of her that knew that her girlfriend was right. Now was not the time to be starting up any arguments.  

“I love you.” Esmeralda places a gentle kiss to Meg’s shoulder. “You know that, right?”

Which as true. And deep down, she knew it was true. It was amazing for Meg to think that those three little words could easily cause the bitterness inside of her to melt away in an instant. Sure, she’s heard those three words before in her life time, and none of them had meant a damn thing. But it was different when the words were coming from Esmeralda’s mouth. There was trust, and there was love. The two things that she needed the most.

“Yea.” Meg says finally. She places her hand over Esmeralda’s, lacing their fingers together. “And I love you too.”

Meg closes her eyes and lets out a sigh as Esmeralda buries her nose in her neck. Their bodies linked together like two perfect puzzles pieces that clearly belonged together. They lay together in silence for a few moments, allowing the symphony of sirens and the blaring of horns honking fill the void. Nothing like waking up on a Sunday morning to the good ol’ sounds of New York City.

“It’s Labor Day tomorrow.” Esmeralda decides to speak first.

Meg smirks. “I could’ve told you that, babe.”

“No, I mean, Labor Day is tomorrow.”

“And…?”

“Which means that all the stores will be closed.”

Meg has to crane her neck to peek over her shoulder. “And you say I’m the one that’s hung over?” She cocks a brow. “How much did you drink last night?”

Esmeralda sighs. “The grocery stores will be closed tomorrow.” She says again with a distant look. “Which means that…all the stores close at two today.”

Meg blinks once, and then another. “Oh…”

“Yea, oh.”

“So…were you planning on going to the grocery store today?”

“…I was.”

Meg turns to look towards the closed door. “We have enough groceries to last us for two days. Don’t we?”

“…I guess so.”

“Okay so we’ll be fine, babe.” Meg lightly runs her fingers over Esmeralda’s hand. “We can salvage.”

“We have enough food for only the two of us.” Esmeralda grimaces. “It’s not enough.”

“What are you talking about?” Meg asks, then a smirk reappears on her face. “It’s not like we’re planning on having people over any time soon.”

Esmeralda is quiet. Chewing on her lower lip, she closes her eyes and lets out a heavy sigh. She knew she would have to come clean eventually. She just wondered if now was the right time to do so. You need to tell her! Now! Deep down, she knew that this conversation would not be heading down the path that she wanted.

“We can survive two days without going grocery shopping, babe.” Meg chuckles. “I mean, we’ve done it before so-“

“My family’s coming into town, Meg.”

Meg pauses, her words put on hold. She cranes her neck to look over her shoulder once again. Brows furrowed in confusion. “What?”

“My family.” Esmeralda begins softly. “They’re coming into town.”

“Town? As in…”

“As in they’re coming to New York, Meg.”

Meg stares at her. And she blinks. “What exactly are you saying?” She asks slowly with a slow dent in her brow.

“They’re coming to visit me.”

“…You’re kidding right?”

Esmeralda presses her lips into a tight line. Judging by the look on Meg’s face, with her brows pinched and the fact that those beautiful violet eyes of her were now glaring heat waves, was telling Esmeralda that this was definitely not going to be heading down the direction she wanted it to.

“You can’t be serious.”

Meg huffs and turns to slam her head against the pillow. A glare now masking her expression as Esmeralda inhales a deep breath, holds it, and lets it go slowly. Because the absolute last thing on earth that she wanted, was opening the door up to yet another argument that was bound to take place any second.

“Babe,” Esmeralda says gently, “Please don’t be mad. They called last minute.” She sighs, a regrettable sigh. “I couldn’t just tell them ‘no’.”

“You know how your family feels about us.” Meg quips. “About me.”

Meg was right. Of course Esmeralda knew exactly how her family felt about their relationship.

“Meg, listen-“

“Why do you even still talk to them?” Meg asks bitterly. “You should’ve cut them off by now.”

“Meg, they’re my family.” Esmeralda tries to reason with her, though Meg’s back is turned towards her. “Yes. I live my own life. But I still need to maintain a level of respect for them.”

“They don’t respect you, Esme.” Meg turns to glare at her. “They don’t. They never did, and they never will.”

Another sigh. “I know.”

“Then why bother having them come over?”

Esmeralda breathes out. “They wanted to come and see me.” She explains. “To see how I’m doing and all.”

“Hm. Your sister too?”

“Yea.”

“She’s coming as well?”

“I don’t see why she wouldn’t.”

Meg is silent a long moment after that. Which is a combination of both apprehensive and bewildering. To Esmeralda, Meg Korso for as long as they’ve been in a relationship, is rarely ever silent. Especially considering that she has always had to bite back with something. In other words, she was used to having the last word. But maybe that was starting to change.

“They hate us being together, Esme.” Meg says quietly, staring up at the ceiling. “They hate me especially.”

“They don’t hate you, Meg.” Esmeralda sighs as she tightens her embrace around Meg’s waist. “They just…don’t understand.”

“They don’t understand what? They don’t understand the fact that you’re-“ She pauses, sighs, “that you’re…”

“A lesbian?”

Meg says nothing. Her body goes stiff.

“They don’t.” She admits it. Because it’s the truth. “And I know they never will.”

“Esme,” Meg sighs as she eases herself upwards and rest her back against the headboard, “They don’t accept our relationship, okay?” Esmeralda joins her and rests her head against Meg’s shoulder. “Nothing on Earth is going to change their minds about that.”

It was all true. “I know.” Esmeralda admits, lightly running her fingers up and down Meg’s arm.

“When do they arrive?”

Esmeralda closes her eyes and sighs. “Tuesday evening.”

Meg gapes. “As in the day after Labor Day?”

Another sigh. “Yea.”

Meg finds herself grimacing as the words. And truth be told, this news wasn’t doing much in terms of allowing her hangover subside. What felt like a hammer mashing against her skull had just turned into a bulldozer that was just about ready to kick her brains out.

“When were you planning to tell me this?” Meg asks through gritted teeth.

Esmeralda takes her head off Meg’s shoulder and looks her in the eye. “I didn’t find out until yesterday morning.”

“Yesterday morning?” Meg raises a brow. “And you decide to spring this on me now?”

Esmeralda barely has a chance to say anything more as Meg huffs and turns to lay back on her side. The Raven haired woman only pinches the bridge of her nose, suddenly beginning to feel an ache creeping up in her skull. Maybe her having responded back to her family’s email wasn’t the smartest idea after all.

“You don’t get it, do you?”

Esmeralda sighs a regrettable sigh at Meg’s choice in words. But she stares at her, waiting patiently for her next response.

“Are you forgetting those times they’ve tried to break us up?” Meg quips again, swallowing down a painful lump at the memory. “Or the fact that they…” A painful pause, “always berate me…”

Esmeralda says nothing as she buries herself against her girlfriend. Meg says nothing as she fights against the tears that were threatening to well up. She doesn’t respond as Esmeralda only presses soft kisses to her neck and shoulder. Then she plants a warm kiss to the side of her cheek, her ear, and to her temple.

“I’m never going to let that happen. They will never come between us.” Esmeralda whispers fervently in Meg’s ear. “I love you.”

Meg chews on her lower lip. Frowning.

“My heart belongs to you, okay? Nothing will ever change that.”

“But you don’t know that.” Meg says quietly. “How do you know that something won’t-“

Her words are cut off when Esmeralda reaches around to cup Meg’s jaw in her hand and tilts her mouth to meet hers. And when their lips meshed together, it was like the whole world fell away. Slow and soft, comforting in ways that words would never be. It was kisses like that that made Meg remember that there was absolutely no room for doubt.

When they reluctantly break the kiss, it’s Esmeralda who rests her forehead against Meg’s.

“You just have to trust me.” She whispers. “Okay?”

Meg sucks in a breath, holds it, then lets it go slowly. Her heart beats in sync with some muffled techno music that’s playing far too loud in an apartment a few floors below theirs, pulsating and thrumming. “Okay.” She says finally.

“Good.” Esmeralda nuzzles their noses together. “And…I decided I’ll make it up to you.”

Meg raises a brow. “Oh really?”

“Mhm.” A smile slowly tilts at the corners of Esmeralda’s lips. “Really.”

Before Meg could get a word out, she watches as Esmeralda carefully slips from the bed and rises from the mattress. The stream of sunlight leaking through the thin curtains manages to paint over Esmeralda’s coco skin of her naked body as she stretches out her limbs with a not so subtle – albeit even seductive – moan, and Meg can’t help but watch intently. She takes her time in reaching for her red robe that somehow managed to be hanging off the foot of the bed, and Meg finds her lips going dry as she admires her girlfriend’s glorious body.

She watches as Esmeralda slips on her robe, which was short enough to cover up to her thighs and the fabric was thin enough to still be able to see her naked body peeking through. For as long as they’ve been together, Meg always believed that there was nothing more bewitching than Esmeralda’s naked form. For what it’s worth, the world could keep their anorexic looking supermodels as they are. She had the body of a dancer. Curves everywhere that would never stop. Her legs were toned, with slightly thicker thighs to die for. Meg didn’t doubt that other women had seen her naked, but for what it’s worth, she was honored to possibly be the last and only woman on the planet that will be lucky enough to continue seeing her naked for as long they lived.

Esmeralda was hers. No one else’s.

Though the sight of seeing her girlfriend’s naked form through that fiery red see-through robe was driving her absolutely insane, Meg’s brow was still raised in skepticism.

“If you’re thinking of doing another strip tease, then you can just forget it.” Meg smirks and Esmeralda turns to cock an eyebrow at her. “I’ve seen those too many times.”

Esmeralda turns fully to face her, and Meg has to chew on her lower lip at the sight of seeing those full breasts peeking through. Enlarged dotted nipples staring right at her. Taunting her. Esmeralda smirks, cups a hand around her hip.

“I wasn’t planning to, Miss Smarty Pants.”

“Good.” Meg grumbles, pulling the covers more securely around her waist. “Cause it won’t work.”

“I was actually going to take a shower instead.” Esmeralda’s murmurs. “But, alright then.”

Meg says nothing as she watches her girlfriend slowly glides towards the bathroom. Each step was slow, practiced, her hip swaying seductively with a single one she takes. “And you said you would make it up to me?” Meg snorts. “Yea right.”

Esmeralda pauses at the doorway, hand grasping the golden handle as she slowly peers over her shoulder. The smirk was still plastered on her face.

“Well, I guess I’ll just have to take a shower on my own…” She steps inside the bathroom, unties her robe, lets it drop to the floor and she pokes her head from behind the door. “I was going to ask if you wanted to join me…” A seductive smile, followed by a soft hum as she casually leans against the door with a hand cupped around her hip. “But…I guess not…”

Immediately, Meg’s ears perk up and she slowly turns to crane her neck to stare at her girlfriend, her eyes twinkling. “A shower?”

“Mhm.”

“Well why didn’t you just say so in the first place?”

“You joining me?”

Meg purrs. “You don’t have to ask me twice.”

“Good.”

Meg wastes no time in slipping out of the bed a little too eagerly, revealing her own remarkable nude body as she walks towards the bathroom. Esmeralda bites her down on her lower lip, carefully eyeing Meg’s naked body up and down, those pale nipples and beautiful curves increasing the burning hunger inside her. A seductive smile was now plastered on Meg’s face as Esmeralda eagerly latches her mouth onto Meg’s and she slowly drags her inside, shutting the door behind them.

Chapter Text

Mount Olympus Ad Agency was only a twenty minute car ride from the apartment. But that was on a good day. Add in the rush hour and that would lead up to sitting in the car for about forty five minutes. Thankfully, today was a good day to be out on the road. Which was ironic, especially considering that this was New York City. And in New York City, there was never a day where there would not be traffic.

After all, New York was the ‘City that never sleeps’.

When Megara Korso arrived to work on Tuesday morning, a throbbing pain already started to form between her eyebrows as she makes her way down the spacious and brightly lit first floor of the reception with swift strides. Which was surprising, considering the real work that her job required hadn’t even started yet. But then again, that was because it would definitely be another typical day at the Agency.

The click-clack of her recently purchased two-inch lavender heels on the polished marbled floor resonated throughout the area of the first floor and indicated purpose, direction and no-nonsense. Her face was etched with unwavering determination, even a smidge of intimidation shone in her violet eyes. Seeing this, some gazes were averted, some were in awe with their jaws dropped in admiration. Other employees that were clearly intimidated by her either scrambled out of her way or turned in the opposite direction pretending they had taken a wrong turn.

Once she finally reaches the elevator, she’s lucky that the cart itself was empty and so she steps inside, feeling relieved of not having to be forced to make any small talk with someone that wasn’t really worth her time. Once inside, she hits the number “13” and is once again relieved when the doors slide close and the cart heaves her upwards.

Three floors left and she heaves a heavy sigh, tapping her foot impatiently, muttering incoherent words under her breath about the irritatingly cheery elevator music that just had to be playing love songs, filling the confined space like a disgustingly sweet fog.

With only two more floors to go, she takes a sip of her espresso, makes a face and grumbles to herself ‘I wasted $5.25 on this?!’ That was the last time she would buy anything other than her usual from Underworld Café. This worthless espresso wasn’t really enough to wake her up. Or maybe it was the fact that her morning hadn’t gone so well being the reason why she was feeling sour.   

The doors slide open with a bing as the elevator finally reached the top floor and Meg walked right out of the lift and made her way down the hall. She lets herself in through the glass doors, giving a small nod of her head towards their secretary. Immediately, she’s greeted with the hustle and bustle of swarming writers, Graphic Designers, Copywriters and Ad executives typing furiously at their desks, getting to work on their designs and campaigns.

Another typical day at the Ad agency.

It was busier because of the fact that Mount Olympus had managed to bring on a couple of new interns to join the team.

One of the benefits about earning the position as the Marketing Campaign Manager, was the fact that Meg was granted the privilege of having her own office. It wasn’t insanely large, but was the perfect size that had enough space to fit around five other people. It was amazing that her office happened to be on the 13th floor on 53rd Broadway Street that was wedged in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, New York. Although it was a blessing to have such a breath-taking view of the city, it was also a curse.

Having to listen to the symphony of drunken civilians and rowdy party-goers at eight o’clock at night on a regular basis only caused Meg to wish that she owned a boomerang of her own. That, mixed with angry and tired citizens who owned the condos across from their building, opening their windows and screaming ‘SHUT THE FUCK UP! I’M TRYIN’ TA GET SOME SLEEP HERE!’ definitely did not make the situation any better.

But hey? Being a Campaign Manager had its perks.

And unfortunately, having an office within the busy city was one of them.

Before Meg even gets a chance to settle into her chair, there’s a light knock on her door. Thankfully all the doors were made of glass, so she wasn’t surprised to see that it was none other than her curly-haired assistant, standing on the other side with what looked like a manila folder cradled in her arms and a light-hearted smile to follow. “It’s open.” Meg gestures for her to come in.

The young curly haired woman sticks her head in. “Good morning, Meg.”

“Hey Moana.” Meg places her jacket on the back of her chair, takes a seat at her desk and offers her assistant at least a small smile. “Did you get the itinerary for today?”

“Yup. Got everything right here for you.”

“Great. Let’s see it.”

When Moana Waialiki steps in to reveal her whole self from behind the door, Meg couldn’t help but to notice her choice in wardrobe. She would admit, for a young woman at the age of twenty-six, Moana definitely had style, which made her stand out from the other assistants that Meg has had in the past. While the majority of her previous assistants often dressed in the typical dress suits and attempted to look way older than their age, it was different – albeit refreshing – to see a young woman in that specific age group to dress like she was her age. Opting for a nicely fitted creamy beige pencil skirt paired with a bloody red strapless crop top with a short burgundy blazer was something that Meg would much rather prefer to see. Not to mention, the red two-inch heels and the little red flower she wore pinned to the side of her hair was what gave her Polynesian decent away.

Meg would admit, it was impressive to see how much pride Moana Waialiki took in her appearance. Not to mention, her choice in wardrobe did indeed compliment her curvy figure.

“So, a couple of things.” Moana says as she makes her way over to Meg’s desk. She takes a sheet of paper out and lays it out on the glass desk. “First off, Yzma Kitt is stuck in traffic, so she won’t be making the nine am meeting after all.”

Meg rolls her eyes. “So I rushed here for nothing? Typical.”

“Trust me, I said the same thing.” Moana sighs and shakes her head. “I only found out about it when I literally just walked in.”

“It’s not your fault.” She informs her assistant nicely as she goes to massage her temples. “That’s what happens when you work with these high maintenance creatures.”

A snort slips from Moana’s lips before she has a chance to catch it. “High maintenance creatures? Did someone wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?”

“Ugh, well…” Meg herself tries to fight the smile tugging at the corners of her lips, “that is what they are.”

“Now, Meg, remember…” If Moana meant to make it sound like she was a mother talking sweetly to her five year old daughter, then she was doing an exceptional job at it. “If you don’t have anything nice to say-“

“-then don’t say it all.” Meg finished sarcastically, a caricature of her assistant’s voice with a smirk. “What are you? My mother now?”

“Well someone has to keep you in check.” Moana says with a proud smile as she cups a hand to her hip. “And by someone, I mean me.”

“Is that so?”

“You bet.”

“Oh hush!” Meg grins up at her. “Don’t make me put up an ad for another assistant.”

“Oh please!” Moana does a dramatic flip of her hair. “We both know that I’m the best assistant you’ve ever had.”

Meg had to ponder over that for a bit. Raising her eyebrows in thought as she finds herself sighing and shaking her head, chuckling to herself as she leans back and relaxes in her chair.

“Alright, fine, Curly. Guess I can agree with you on that one.”

Moana smiles in triumph. “I thought so.”

Meg raises an eyebrow. “Don’t you start bragging again. Otherwise, I will put that ‘assistant wanted’ sign back up again.”

Moana sighs and shakes her head. “Fine.” Then she giggles and looks at the pile of folders cradled in her arms. “Almost forgot to mention.” She takes one carefully and hands it over to Meg. “Ella wanted me to give this to you.”

Meg takes the folder from her, though she eyes it skeptically. “What is this exactly?”

“Well, this might put you in a good mood.” Moana grins. “We may have a potential new client.”

Meg looks at the Curly haired woman standing above her. Eyes lighting up slightly. “Really?”

“Yup.”

“Thank the Gods.” Meg sighs in relief as she eagerly sits upright in her chair. “It’s about time, considering the fact that it was slower around here for the longest while.”

“Tell me about it.” Moana chuckles. “Anyway, her name is Anastasia Tremaine. She’s looking to create a  brand for her skin care product.”

“And she wants us to start from scratch?” Meg asks with a raised eyebrow. “Y’know, the logo designs, packaging? All that?”

“Seems like it.” Moana nods. “She’s called here a couple of times, according to Ella that is.”

“She didn’t leave any messages?”

“Not that I’m aware of.” She shrugs. “But check her out. See what she’s all about, and if you’re interested, give her the call and we’ll set this thing up.”

Meg nods. “Alright. Sounds like a plan then.”

“Great!” Moana beams eagerly. “Well then, I’ll leave you to that now.” She turns to leave and heads towards the door. “I’ll be back in five!” She calls over her shoulder.

“Sounds good!” Meg calls back as she immediately begins to busy herself with the folder laid out before her. She peers closely at the name written on the paper, fingers tracing over the fine print.

‘Anastasia Tremaine…’ She thinks quietly to herself. ‘Wonder what she’s all about…’

Aside from her identity being revealed, apparently she only lived two blocks away from where Mount Olympus was located. She was only twenty-nine years of age, and her current job consists of her working at the Manhattan Mall advertising her brand by handing out free facials to test out the latest trend for skincare – although Meg liked to think of it as bargaining rather than advertising.

‘Amateurs…’

Meg shakes the thought from her head and carefully observes the profile in front of her once again. Unfortunately, there was no photo add to the picture, so in a way that was a bust. At least if there was a photo present, then it was easier to get at least an idea of exactly the type of person she would be having to deal with. The fortunate part however is that her current residence was 635 West 42nd Street. ‘Of course’ Meg chuckles dryly as she shakes her head. ‘She lives in one of the most lavish penthouses in all of New York City.’ Which would also explain how a twenty-nine year old could possibly have the funds to do something as drastic as to create a brand for skincare while currently surviving on only a salary of no more than $500 bi-weekly. She definitely came from a rich family.

But if it brought in the big bucks, then who the hell was a person like Meg to complain? In the end, she only hoped she would receive a big fat pay check to possibly last her until the day she retires.

But then again, a woman can dream.

So when she grabs a pen and scribbles a big fat check mark on the sheet of the profile, Meg reaches over to grab a yellow sticky note from the pad, smacks it against the sheet and makes sure to write ‘Call ASAP!’ on the tiny note. Satisfied that she’d made sure that everything was set, she shifts her chair so that she’s situated right at her Mac desktop, moving the mouse on the pad and the screen finally comes to life. She wastes no time in typing in her username and password to gain access to her important stuff.

Moving her cursor over to where the ‘Mailbox’ icon was located at the top right corner of her screen, she immediately clicks on it and the window pops open. Her fingers go to massage her temples yet again as she takes in the view of her inbox that’s overflowing with numerous emails about proposals, meetings that were scheduled, and ads that needed to be checked over and marked off.

But all that needed to wait.

Right now, she had more important fish to fry. And that was making sure that she could snag this client before anyone else could get their greedy little hands on her.

So when she clicks on the ‘Compose New Message’ button, her fingers hover over the keyboard, about ready to type, when the buzzing of her phone rumbling against her glass desk forces her thoughts to be put on hold. She turns abruptly to stare at it, raising a brow as the small screen was now brightly lit and alive.

It wasn’t an incoming call like she thought. Nor was it a text message like she’d anticipated. Rather, it was a little reminder that popped up in a small bubble.

Reminder; Dinner @ 7:00pm!

She doesn’t take her eyes off the screen. Nor does she make the slightest move, not even a subtle flinch. Her gaze remains glued to her screen, trailing over every word, every curve and shape of each letter that stood out. There was a sour taste in her mouth that instantly formed at the back of her throat, making it difficult for her to swallow. Her chest suddenly felt heavy, an uneasy feeling dropping to the pit of her stomach.

And then the little screen on her iPhone faded to black.

Almost instantly, the dread in her bones creeps over her like an icy chill, numbing her brain. Her stomach is full of lead, while her feet suddenly feel like they’re set in concrete. In this sudden frozen state, Meg could only allow her mind to offer her one thought.

Esmeralda had told her to be home for dinner tonight at 7:00pm. Not a minute late, for her family was usually very stingy when it came to being on time.

Dinner was tonight, as in today. And unfortunately, there was no avoiding it. In this moment, she might as well be a cow that’s being herded into a truck for the slaughter house; only the cow doesn’t know where it’s going. She does.

If it was up to Meg, she definitely would’ve opted to spend her night getting wasted off maybe thirty shots of grey goose. After which she would be bent over a toilet puking her guts out until her throat burned, and wake up the next morning with an even worse hangover than she had two days ago.

Meg heaves a heavy sigh, slowly swiveling her chair around slightly so that she was now full facing her phone. She reaches for it, pocketing the device in her hand and hits the ‘home’ button. The screen beams, with the little reminder bubble filling up almost the entire space, and she swipes her thumb against the screen to the left, which makes her background visible.

A photo of her and Esmeralda, with Esme planting a sweet kiss to her cheek as they had taken a selfie at the lake together about a few months ago. A bright smile plastered on Meg’s face in the photo. Just by seeing the photo as the background on her phone, Meg presses her lips into a thin line, closes her eyes and sucks in a deep breath.

‘You’re doing this for her…not for them…’

The ultimate sacrifice she was forced to make for love.

For stupid love.

Stupid, beautiful love.

When she opens her eyes and gazes at her background photo, the two of them looking so happy and content, she slams her phone down on her desk and goes to bury her face in her hands.

‘But…how could she just spring this on me so suddenly?!’

She wanted to scream. Pull her hair. Throw something at the door. Anything.

‘Because you’re doing this for HER! She’s the one you LOVE! Only HER! She’s the one who means the most to you! Just HER! No one else!’

Though it didn’t really help with the fact that she and Esmeralda had gotten into an argument this morning before work. No doubt the reason for that was Esmeralda’s family coming over. After the cab dropped Meg off, she tried to tell Esmeralda goodbye, but her lover didn’t even answer. And that was that.

Her hands began to tremble. There’s a tingling in her chest. Her fingers suddenly going cold and she’s finding it slightly difficult to breathe. The knots in her stomach twisting and pulling. And she couldn’t stop it.

It was no surprise that Esmeralda’s family absolutely despised her relationship with Meg, and the fact that their daughter just so happened to come out to them as a lesbian. But also, it was no secret that Meg hated them right back. Maybe even more than they hated her.

They were very religious people, as God was the ultimate source to where they could seek power. They often followed the bible, read and memorized every scripture religiously. And because of that, Esmeralda’s family never found it an issue to quote scriptures at those who were committing a sin.

‘You’re sinning against the Father Almighty!’ They would scold. ‘You’re going to rot and burn in HELL!’

They tried that with her once. Meg remembered that day vividly.

Usually, Meg was a no-nonsense person. Never cowering down or cowering in fear from anyone. As she would usually just chuckle, shrug them off, turn on her heel and go about her business as if nothing happened.

But with Esmeralda’s family, it was different.

She remembered feeling like something had jumped on her back and clawed its nails into her flesh when she came back to Esmeralda’s apartment one night. She even remembered having a vivid dream about a python sinking its fangs into her neck, and she had jolted awake drenched in her own tears and sweat, unable to breathe and hyperventilating.

‘She’s a witch!’ She overheard them talking about her when she wasn’t in the room.

‘She’s my girlfriend!’ Esmeralda’s voice scolded them.

That was a memory Meg didn’t want to remember.

“She’s dragging you down a dark path, Esmeralda!” Her mother hissed at her. “She’s leading you to the devil! Don’t you see it?!”

Meg sunk her teeth into her lower lip, closing her eyes, fighting against the tears threatening to escape. She was just thankful that they couldn’t see her from around the corner.

“Ma! That’s enough!” Esmeralda’s voice rose. “I love her! Okay?! I. Love. Her!”

“Oh Esme for crying out loud!” Her sister cried out in frustration, the loud thud against the floor proof that she stomped her foot. “Do you hear yourself?! You’re completely delusional! You don’t love her!”

“I am not delusional! And I do love her!”

“Ooohh Lord Jesus, please help my child!” Her mother cried out. “She’s already got you in the hands of Satan!”

Meg flinches and clenches her fists at the word ‘she’.

“You are caught in a sin, Esme!”

“Ooohh Sweet Jesus!...” Meg couldn’t make out what Esmeralda’s mother was saying, nor did she seem to understand the words that were coming out of the woman’s mouth. But she only guessed that the old, crazy woman, was yelling in tongues.

“ENOUGH!”

That was the last thing Meg heard before she decided she couldn’t take any more. The tears fall down her cheeks and she silently races to the door to let herself out-

“Meg? You whooo! You still there?”

The horrific film in her head stopped rolling. Snapping back to reality, her head jerks up from her hands with a slightly confused gaze at the person that the voice was coming from. When her violet eyes meet those familiar brown ones, she manages to breathe a quiet sigh of relief as she sees none other than Moana standing over her desk. A worried gaze of her own plastered on her features.

Meg blinks rapidly. “…S-sorry...” She shakes her head with a furrowed brow. “…What?”

“Were you able to get a hold of that potential client?”

She blinks once, and then another. “Oh…right.” She sighs and hastily swivels her chair back to her computer. “I’ll get on that right now.”

“Oh…okay.” Moana says calmly. “No rush though. Take your time.”

“Yea, yea.”

“And Helen would like to see you in her office when you have the time.”

“Great.” Meg answers abruptly, eyes concentrating on the screen. “Tell her I’ll be up in five.”

Moana can’t help but draw her eyebrows together. “You okay?”

Meg doesn’t take her eyes off the screen. Though she pauses briefly from typing any further, her body going stiff. She closes her eyes, sucks in a deep breath and mentally counts down from fifteen. Then to ten. She’s fully aware that her assistant’s gaze is burning a hole through her back.

“I’m fine.”

Moana only chews on her bottom lip, twiddling her thumbs together. “You sure you’re okay Meg?”

“I’m fine, Moana.”

“Are you absolutely sure you’re not-“

“Moana I said I’m fine!”

She hadn’t meant to raise her voice. Nor did she mean to take out her frustration on Moana of all people. Meg didn’t have to look over her shoulder to realize the error in her tone. But she could feel Moana’s gaze drop. Pressing her lips into a thin line. Meg only lets out a loud breath, pinching the bridge of her nose.

“I’m sorry I asked…” Moana confesses quietly as she bows her head down and looks at her fingers.

“Just…” Meg sighs between sentences. “…Just tell Helen I’ll be up after I send out this email.”

“Sure. Okay.”

And when Meg hears the clicking of heels against the hardwood floor and the slight creak of the door opening and closing, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist for her to figure out that once again, she let her emotion get the best of her.

But with what little dignity she could muster up, she shakes away her guilt, frowns at the screen with determination and begins to compose her new message.

Dear Ms. Anastasia Tremaine…


 

Esmeralda Ayres on the other hand, needs to be prepared for Thursday morning.

The witness list for the prosecution looks good, in her opinion. All the evidence that she needed were placed neatly in the files. In the case of the People vs. Shan Yu, who was originally under the alias of “Kut-Throat”, the defence would surely argue that these girls had set themselves up to be raped daily. They would comb through these young girls’ personal home lives and use that as a way to twist their words on the stand, telling them that they had chosen to go down the path of being indebted and enslaved to Shan Yu. After all, in the law’s eyes, they were just prostitutes. And according to Shan Yu, to all the pimps and the Johns that terrorized them for years, and even to his defence attorney, ‘no one would believe a whore’.

But with several dead bodies to his name, the amount of underage girls he’d been trafficking for the past ten years, along with the possession of drugs, there was no way that the jury would oversee this.

All the evidence was there. And as always, DNA never lies.

Even if in the judge’s deluded mind there just might, key word being might, be room for reasonable doubt, since this man had been very careful as to not leave as much as a paper trail behind, the evidence against him was good. Esmeralda knew they would be in for a good fight, with the testimony of at least twelve young girls (with the others already being dead). But if it was something that she had to remind herself, it was the fact that the Cathedral Law Firm was the one to bring justice to New York’s victims. They stood true to their name, and nothing was ever going to change that.

Esmeralda traces a finger down the list once more, feeling the smoothness of the paper underneath her fingertips. When it rests upon Alice Kingsley, her lips press into a tight line. She was only thirteen, and she happened to be one of the youngest out of all the girls that Shan Yu has trafficked into the sex trade. But she was still pretty fragile given the circumstances, often stumbling over her words and getting easily flustered with the numerous questions that were being thrown at her.

She was a precarious one, but a good witness nonetheless.

She traces her finger down the list again, slowly this time, then it comes to a stop on the names, Wendy and Jane Darling. Both sisters who were trafficked for over three years. Esmeralda had recalled that day when the detectives had presented her with photos of the two of them having spent most of their lives being chained down to a bed, bruises and welts up and down their arms and legs. She forces herself to erase those atrocious images from her head, and reminds herself that these two would be her best witnesses. Although they were broken, their stories were very credible, and there was no way that the judge and the jury would overlook their testimony. But they would need another primer on questions she will ask and the defence attorney may ask – provided that they could keep their cool and not lash out.

Her emerald green eyes scan the list once more, looking for any weaknesses or surprise loopholes. She breathes a sigh of relief, satisfied that she’ll definitely be prepared for Thursday’s case. With that taken care of, she slides the important paper into a manila folder, grabs the other files, stacks them neatly together and situates them on the corner of her desk under her lamp. Relaxing back into her chair, she stifles a yawn and takes a look at the clock hanging in the center of the wall above the doorway.

11:00am.

Breathing another sigh, she pinches the bridge of her nose, realizing that she had another six hours before the end of her workday.

Another six hours before her family arrives.

Thankfully they had agreed to arrive at around 7:30pm, which would give her just a little bit of time to prepare. However at the same time, it was still pretty crunched. Given the fact there would indeed be rush hour on the way back to the apartment, she most likely wouldn’t get back until around 6:00pm. Even that did give her about an hour and a half to get herself and her apartment ready, the downside was that there was barely any food in her fridge and cupboards to prepare a decent home cooked meal.

Thanks to Labor Day. Unfortunately, it looked like ordering take-out was on the menu for the evening.

Esmeralda breathes out another sigh, takes the file from under the lamp and decides to go through it once again. She needed to make sure that she was indeed set for Supreme Court on Thursday morning. As she’s scanning through the witness list and all the evidence yet again, it was the light, respectful knock on her door that drew her eyes from the papers.

“Come in.”

The door opens slowly, and Esmeralda sighs in a bit of a relief when she catches sight of the familiar ivory, platinum blonde hair and the pair of icy blue eyes that belonged to her colleague, gently sticking her head in, regarding her with a knowing smile.

“Double-checking the list again?” Elsa Andersen, her closest friend, says.

Esmeralda lets out a small chuckle. “You know me already. Always have to make sure that everything’s in order.” She looks up, studying her friend, then notices that her arms look slightly full. “More evidence?”

“Definitely.” Elsa’s smile turns into a grin. “You got a minute?”

“Absolutely.”

Elsa enters, holding what looked like two extra folders in her arms while she closes the door for privacy. Judging by her baby blue French cut blouse that was still pretty crisp and her black pencil skirt that showed her slim figure and her blue close toe two-inch heels that still looked untouched, it was obvious that the real work for her had barely begun. But it was also judging by the fact that her hair was still neat and gelled as opposed to seeing her with the usual strands of hair poking up in different directions from working too hard.

“You are going to love me.” Elsa grins as she walks towards Esmeralda’s desk, opens up the file and neatly lays it down in front of her. “Guess whose fingerprints match the ones that were found on the Glock 17?”

Esmeralda’s eyes widen and she quickly snatches the file up from her desk. “That son-of-a-bitch.” She reads over the document of the evidence sheet. “Just what I suspected.” Then she looks up at Elsa, who has a triumphant smile on her face.

“If you’re thinking what I’m thinking, then you definitely guessed right.” Elsa crosses her arms, unable to get rid of that smile. “It looks like Mr. ‘Kut-Throat’ isn’t that bright after all.”

“The Glock 17 was what was used to murder Crysta Mathis.” Esmeralda nods as she reads over the file again, fighting a smile at the corners of her lips. “We got him.”

“We did.” Elsa smiles and nods. “With this new evidence, there’s no way that Hans will be able to convince the judge that there’s room for reasonable doubt.”

“Not a chance.” Esmeralda puts the folder down and looks up at her friend. “He’s guilty. He’s guilty for pimping out those teenage girls. He’s guilty for murdering Crysta Mathis and those twelve other young girls.” She says with iron in her tone. “He’s guilty. He knows damn well that he is.”

“Of course he knows that.” Elsa smirks. “That’s why he thought he could get away with Crysta’s murder, just like he thought he could with the other twelve.”

Esmeralda nods. “Alright.” She closes the file and neatly places it on top of the manila folder under her lamp. “So we’re set.”

“Absolutely.” Elsa sighs with satisfaction as she plops herself down on the chair that’s sitting right in front of Esmeralda’s desk. “We’re gonna win this thing, Es.” She leans back and crosses her right knee over her left. “It’s going to be perfect.”

Perfect…

Immediately, just hearing that word sends a knot of discomfort forming in her stomach. Almost instantly, it turns her heart into a noticeable punching. “At least something will be ‘perfect…’” She mutters under her breath as she averts her gaze from Elsa’s.

“Hey?” Elsa says softly, furrowing her brow. “You okay?”

“Umm, yea.” She folds her fingers together. “I’m fine.”

Elsa tilts her head slightly, her braid falling over to other side of her shoulder. “You’re not okay.”

“I’m fine, Els. Really, I’m-“

“No you’re not.” Esmeralda slowly tilts her head up to look at her friend. “I’ve worked with you for over three years, Es.” Elsa reminds her with a tender smile. “I know when something’s bothering you.”

Of course she did. For people that didn’t know Esmeralda, they would immediately take her word for it and leave her be. But a woman like Elsa, who was very intuitive, was a very intrapersonal person, and to mention, seemed like she was blessed with the gift of discernment. It was no surprise that she was able to pick up on these little things. But then again, that was Elsa’s personality. She wasn’t afraid when it came to digging just a little deeper beneath the surface. Especially when it came to dealing with people.

It was one of the reasons why she and Esmeralda immediately clicked the first day they met.

“What’s wrong, Es?” She leans in slightly closer, waiting patiently. “Talk to me.”

She takes a deep breath, blinking once, and then blinking another. She looks down briefly at her own hands, thumbs fiddling with one another. “Els, I’m sorry.” She confesses. “It’s just…there’s some things that I’m dealing with right now.”

“I know that.” Elsa offers her a small smile. “Things like…what exactly?”

The words are on the tip of her tongue. Ready to make their grand entrance. Only instead, her lip finds its way between her teeth and she just shakes her head. “Forget it. It’s not that important.”

“Es…you know you can tell me anything, right?”

She did know that. And maybe that was the problem. Maybe she told her too many things. Things that probably shouldn’t have been brought up in the first place.

“Es, please talk to me?”

She doesn’t answer.

“Are things okay at home? Y’know, with you and Meg?”

Meg.

The way how she flinched slightly at the mention of her girlfriend’s name only confirmed Elsa’s suspicions. Her gaze knowing as she sighs quietly under her breath.

“You and Meg are fighting again, aren’t you?”

It didn’t really sound like a question, though that was the intention. Instead, it sounded more like a matter-of-fact statement. ‘You and your girlfriend are fighting again, so that’s why you’re upset.’ But Elsa knew. It was no surprise to her.

Esmeralda only sucks in another deep breath and finally says, “We got into an argument this morning.”

“I see.” Elsa nods slowly. “When exactly?”

“Right before we both left for work.”

“Did you ride a cab together?”

“Yea.”

“Ouch.” Elsa shakes her head. “That must’ve been uncomfortable for the both of you.”

Esmeralda sighs. “Tell me about it.” She shakes her head. “We didn’t say a word to each other the whole ride down.”

“Who got dropped off first?”

“Meg did.” She says quietly. “She got out, didn’t even look at me. Barely said goodbye to me.” She brings her hands to her temples, fingers massaging them. “But I was no better.”

“She said bye?”

“She did.” Esmeralda admits and finally looks up at her friend. “I didn’t say anything though.”

“So you didn’t say anything at all to her?”

She shakes her head.

“Not even ‘goodbye’?”

“Nothing.”

“Es…”

“I know, I know.” Esmeralda sighs and pinches the bridge of her nose. “I should’ve said something to   her, but…” A pause, “I don’t know. She just…she just made me so mad this morning.”

Elsa knits her brows together. “What did she say?”

Esmeralda sighs. “…You don’t wanna know.”

“Gotcha.” Elsa nods knowingly. “What did you say back to her after what she said to you?”

Esmeralda only peers at her through her lashes with a raised eyebrow. And right away, Elsa knew that she was wandering into dangerous territory. So she just nods again.

“I get it.” She sighs. “So…it was a pretty intense argument then?”

“I don’t know even know if ‘intense’” She made air quotes, “is the right word for it.”

Elsa raises her brows. “That bad?”

“Let’s just say…” Esmeralda closes her eyes, heaves a heavy sigh and then slowly opens them again. “It was…pretty ugly.”

“Well, Es, what was the argument even about?”

Without thinking, Esmeralda blurts, “My family is coming over tonight.”

And when she sees how Elsa’s eyes widened, blinking and unable to digest the words that had just come out of her mouth, it was quite clear that that was the absolute last thing Elsa had been expecting to hear. Esmeralda was just grateful that she had her own office, and that her door was closed and her blinds were shut, so that no nosey colleagues of hers would be tempted to poke their heads in and observe the drama that was going on in her life at the moment.

“Your…” Elsa shakes her head in disbelief. “Your family is…coming to visit?”

Esmeralda sighs yet again. “Yea.”

“Oh…um…” Elsa only blinked. “…Wow…that’s um…that’s quite the…news there…”

Esmeralda, in turn, only responds by bringing her hand back to her face and pinches the bridge of her nose. She shakes her head, feeling defeated and helpless.

“But Es I don’t get it.” Elsa furrows her brow, trying to piece everything together. “You haven’t spoken to your family in years. No?”

“I haven’t.” She admits. “But…they decided to email me out of the blue on Saturday morning.” She sighs. “They asked if they could come down and see me.”

“I’m surprised you told them yes.”

“I felt bad, okay?” Esmeralda admits grimly. “I mean, what was I supposed to say?” Her own brows merge to a frown as her gaze meets Elsa’s. “They’re my family. I couldn’t just say ‘Hey Ma and Pop. No you can’t come down, because my life is more important than yours.’”

“I get it.” Elsa nods knowingly. “But how’s Meg taking it?”

Of course she would ask that. And of course, Esmeralda knew that she couldn’t avoid the question forever. When she responds with a muffled sigh laced with an irritating groan, it only answers Elsa’s question.

“I take it she’s not happy?"

Another sigh from her. “Of course she’s not.”

“When did you tell her?”

“Sunday morning.” Esmeralda answers. “After we came back from Bar 54 that night, I kind of just…blurted it out.”

“Es…” She winces at the tone in Elsa’s voice. “You sprung it on her just like that?”

She shrugs apologetically. “Kind of.”

Elsa sighs and adjusts herself in her chair. “Well, I can see why she’s upset about it.” She admits. “Considering what she’s had to endure with them in the past.”

“I tried to tell her that everything was going to be okay.” She explains. “That I was never going to let them try and come between us again.”

“Only you know.” Elsa says knowingly. “You know that once they come, that unfortunately what you told Meg, won’t be the case.”

Esmeralda blinks once, and then another. Elsa’s gaze was searching hers, and the look on Elsa’s face only confirmed the thoughts of doubt that’s been eating away at Esmeralda today. Elsa was right. Whether she wanted to hear the truth or not, Elsa was never one to lie. (Or…so she thought.)

“Els,” Her name came out more like a whine before she could catch it. “Help me.” Esmeralda leans back in her chair and buries her face in her hands. “What do I do to make this right?”

“Honestly Es, the only thing you can do is to just be there for Meg.” Elsa suggests with a sympathetic smile. “With everything that’s happened, she’s gonna need you more than anything.”

It was true. She was.

“I can’t be there for her if she won’t even talk to me.”

“Because she feels in way, you’re betraying her.” Elsa says honestly. “You know how Meg is. In her mind, she feels as though you’ve already chosen your family over her.”

“But I haven’t.” She frowns at that. “She knows that I love her. She knows that I would never do something like that to her. Ever.”

“Does she? Did you tell her that?”

She presses her lips into a thin line. “Once.”

“Honey, telling her once isn’t going to help.” She says softly. “You need to keep telling her that you love her. Keep telling her that it’s you and her against the world. Because at this point…” She pauses, Esmeralda looks at her with a worried gaze. “It really is just you and her that’s in this together.”

Elsa was right. She was always right.

“You love her, right?”

Esmeralda sighs and nods without a second thought. “More than anything.”

“Then tell her that.” Elsa gives her convincing smile. “Tell her what you told me. That she means more to you than anything else in the world. Give her that reassurance.”

Esmeralda nods again. A small smile appearing on her face. “Thanks Els.”

“Any time.” Then she flicks her wrist. Checks her watch. “It’s almost eleven thirty.” She looks at Esmeralda, her smile transitioning to a grin. “Wanna go grab a coffee?”

She chuckles. “Sure. Why not?”

“Great!” Elsa beams as she rises from the chair. “I’ll go next door and get my purse.”

“Alright. See you in a few.”

“You got it.”

Esmeralda watches as Elsa heads towards the door. And as she slips out and closes it shut behind her, Esmeralda wastes no time in reaching towards her drawer and pulling out her iPhone. She taps the ‘home’ button on her phone, slightly disappointed to see that it was blank, with only a photo of her and Meg as her background picture. A selfie of the two of them at a lake they had visited a few months ago. Esmeralda only smiles to herself, watching the still image of her planting a kiss on Meg’s cheek. The brilliant smile on Meg’s face.

What she would give to see that smile again.

Sucking in a deep breath, she decided to proceed with Elsa’s orders. Tapping the green message icon on her phone, she uses her thumb to pull up Meg’s name and her fingers immediately tap amongst the keyboard.

To: Meg Korso – Babe<3

I’m sorry about this morning. I didn’t mean to blow up at you the way that I did. You didn’t deserve that. All I’m trying to say is, I love you. I love you more than anything, babe. I just want you to know that no matter what happens, it’s you and me against the world. I’ll see you tonight<3

She doesn’t hesitate to hit the ‘send’ button. The blue bubble popping up on her phone as her text message sent successfully.

She’d been expecting for her to either be too busy with work that she didn’t get a chance to even look at her phone. Or that she was still very upset to the point where she read the text message, but she decided not to respond.

So as she’s grabbing her wallet from her bag, her phone vibrates in her hand. Chewing on her lower lip, she hits her ‘home’ button once again. What she hadn’t been expecting was to see a text from none other than the one person she cared about most appear on her screen.

From: Meg Korso – Babe<3

I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t have said what I said. I love you too, baby. I love you so much. I don’t want to fight with you anymore. Okay? I love you, and I’ll see you tonight<3

A smile graces her features. Feeling nothing but relief to know that they would be good terms again in a matter of hours.

She chances another look at the clock.

11:30am.

Exactly eight more hours until her family would arrive.

It was in that moment that Esmeralda could only pray to God that this visit wouldn’t turn into a disaster.