Accidental Love

B.L Miller



Copyright:  The characters that appear within this story are of my own creation and I own the copyright to them 1998 B L Miller.  Do not redistribute or copy this story to any site.  Links are allowed so long as they make it clear that the story is housed on my site.  Any questions or comments may be directed to me at

Adult situations:  This story contains explicit scenes of two women making love to each other.  If this offends you, you shouldn't be reading any of my stories.

I hope you enjoy it.   B L



part 1



Rose Grayson zipped up the front of her dark blue sweat jacket and pulled the hood down over her head. The string that normally would have kept it in place had been removed long before she purchased it from the thrift store. She had no doubt that the first gust of the biting cold wind would push it off her head but for the moment, it was the best she could do. She looked out into the brightly lit parking lot of Money Slasher, the large supermarket that she worked at part time. She had been hoping to be full time by now but with the economy the way it was, full time jobs were hard to come by. The crazy hours they assigned her made it impossible to get another part time job to fill in the gaps and Rose couldn't take the chance on quitting. It had taken weeks of applying to stores all over Albany just to get this job.

As the weathermen had predicted, the small flakes that had been falling when she started her shift was now a full blown blizzard and a good foot of snow had fallen with no end in sight. Rose looked down at her threadbare sneakers and groaned. This was the worst part about taking a job two miles from her apartment. The long walk home guaranteed that her feet would be frozen, not to mention the rest of her body. Sometimes she was lucky enough to get a ride from Kim, the store manager, but not tonight. Kim got off duty an hour ago and there was no way Rose would ask her to wait. Taking a deep breath, she tucked her reddish blond hair into the hood, bent forward, and stepped out into the unforgiving elements.




Veronica Cartwright glanced at her diamond studded watch for the tenth time in an hour. Of all the miserable nights to have to make an appearance at Sam's, the oyster house that doubled as the social gathering place for Albany's rich and powerful. On any given night one could go there and see the Governor, State Senators, and common folk who wanted to spend a hundred bucks on dinner. The maitre' de knew who was who and seated them accordingly. Never would someone like Veronica, who headed up one of the largest family owned corporations in the area, be seated near someone who didn't even own their own home. Veronica never liked to go there, despite the world-renowned cuisine. Tonight, however, she had little choice. Mark Grace, the Zoning Board of Appeals Commissioner, was fighting a zoning change request and it was up to her to smooth his ruffled feathers and get that variance pushed through. Her cousins ran a small offshoot of the family corporation, Cartwright Car Washes. It was small in terms of the revenue it brought to the family, but huge in the eyes of the public, especially with the thirty car washes scattered about the area and the numerous television ads. "Get your car washed right at Cartwrights" was a hugely successful slogan and made the long time financial barons' family name a household word. John and Frank, the cousins in charge of the car washes, wanted to build a new one on the corner of Lake and State Streets. It was a prime location in a predominantly residential area. They even went so far as to buy out the corner store that had previously been there and the adjacent houses in hopes of getting the variance. Now Commissioner Grace was questioning the destruction of three of Albany's "grand old buildings" in order to put up another "stupid car wash". Meetings and negotiations didn't work, offers of great civic donations didn't work, even outright bribes failed. When the brothers had exhausted all their ideas and still were unable to sway him, it was up to Veronica to set things right. The Commissioner jumped at the opportunity to meet with one of the city's most eligible women and insisted on dinner that evening.

So as a result she had to leave her fine home in the middle of one of the worst blizzards to hit the city in years to wine and dine the Commissioner into giving them the variance. It was a part of doing business and Veronica was used to it. The only problem was that Grace wanted more than goodwill from the raven haired beauty who ran Cartwright Corporation. Because of his insistence that they meet that evening, there had been no chance to make reservations. For almost anyone else, it would have meant not getting into the prestigious oyster house. But for Veronica, the maitre' de placed them in the bar while desperate attempts were made to find a place for the President of Cartwright Corporation and her guest. During the wait, the blue eyed woman suffered having to listen to the whiny little snipe of a man tell her all about his degrees and how smart he was and how she should really consider spending more time with him. The only good point of the evening had been the waiter's constant refilling of her wine glass with the finest of vintages. At least she had been able to enjoy a good buzz while listening to him drone on.

Now an hour and a half later, they were seated at their table, dinner having been served just a few minutes before. "So Veronica you know that's such a pretty name. A pretty name for a pretty lady," Mark reached over with his fork to take a piece of baked lobster from her plate. "I don't understand why you feel that an area with such class and beauty needs a car wash. Can you imagine all the traffic that'll go through there? Interrupting people while they're sleeping, disturbing them with all the loud noises those machines make." His fork found another piece of lobster, the remainder of the tail. "Surely you wouldn't want one of those right next door to you, now would you?"

Blue eyes glared at the best part of her lobster making its way into someone else's mouth. She had been polite and pleasant all evening and now it was time to teach the little man a lesson. She dabbed her lips with the linen napkin. "The car wash is only open from eight in the morning until ten at night. I'm sure no one's sleep will be disturbed and if you filch one more piece of food off my plate I'm going to stab your hand with this fork, do I make myself clear?" she said evenly while raising the wine glass to her lips. "Now you and I both know that those streets see plenty of traffic as it is, the residents like the idea of a car wash coming to their area, and it also means ten more jobs to the community. What do you think will happen in the next election if we support the Democrat and give him this little piece of information? What good would your appointment do if the new mayor decides to clean house?"

"Now you're just blowing smoke, Miss Cartwright," he said, sitting back and lighting up a cigarette. Smoking of course was prohibited in that section of the restaurant but Mark believed his position to put him above what he considered to be a silly law. "The Cartwrights have always supported the Republicans, everyone knows that." He took another drag of his cigarette, the smoke tickling Veronica's nose.

"Really?" she drained her glass and set it down on the linen covered table, suppressing a grin at the thought of the bomb she was about to lay on the hapless Commissioner. "Let me tell you something, Mr. Grace. The Cartwrights have financed more than one Democrat over the years and now that I'm in charge, there'll be plenty more as time goes on." Her blue eyes bore into his as she leaned forward and took the cigarette out of his hand, sinking it deep into his stuffed crab. "This variance means nothing to me except getting my cousins off my back. Your position means nothing to me. I'd spend a hundred thousand on the next election if it meant getting you out of office and putting in someone who sees jobs as being more important than power plays so you need to make a decision. You can be the good guy who brings ten jobs to the area or you can be the idiot who gets voted out of office, the decision is yours." Veronica had already made up her mind that there would soon be a new Commissioner. "I do believe this meeting is over. I hoped you enjoyed my dinner." At his startled look she added "What? Did you think you were going to get lucky tonight, Mr. Grace?" Her eyes gave him a quick once over. "I'm sorry. I don't sleep with dogs. You never know when they might have fleas." She picked up her attach and strode out, leaving the fuming but cornered commissioner with nothing but a hard on and the check.




Rose crossed the street and entered Washington Park, a mammoth place of greenery in the middle of the city. The park was closed at dusk each night because of the crime and cruising that went on there. Normally Rose would go around but that meant an extra six blocks out of her way and with the howling wind and bitter cold, the most direct route home was needed. In the five block walk from the supermarket to the edge of the park, Rose's ears were beet red from the cold and her nose had already started to run. She couldn't feel her toes and the pockets of her sweat jacket did nothing to protect her fingers. Deciding from the lack of prints in the snow and the sub-zero temperature that it was safe, Rose trudged along past the huge statue of Moses that marked the entrance and the snow covered sign that warned against being in the park at night. The fierce wind refused to let her keep her hood on and her shoulder length hair flapped loosely about her face. Her body shivered fiercely and all she could think of was getting home and sinking into a nice hot bath. She was halfway through the park and within sight of Madison Avenue when she heard them approaching, their quick footfalls crunching the snow under their feet. "Well well well, what do we have here?" She turned her head to see four men rapidly approaching her, now quite running but certainly walking very fast.

"Come on honey, we've got something for ya."
"Yeah, why don't you come party with us?"

The deep cold made her legs feel like lead but the idea of being caught out in the middle of the dark park by the four men put new life in her steps. She tried ignoring them and continuing on her way but men continued to follow her. "Come'on bitch, let Danny have some fun," the closest one said, causing Rose's heart to start pounding painfully in her chest. She had to get out of there and had to get out of there now. She began running, more like stumbling, through the snow and toward the bright lights of Madison Avenue.

Veronica breezed through the lights of the sleeping city, mindless of the way the Porsche slipped around in the snow. It wasn't like anyone else was around at the late hour. She passed Lark Street without meaning to and cursed loudly. Now she'd have to go all the way past the park to catch the next cross street. Seeing no cars in front of her, she punched the pedal of her Porsche 911 and threw it into second gear. She was going far too fast for the snow covered street, especially since it didn't look like the plows had been through any time recently, but she didn't care. It wasn't like she had to stop anytime soon and she was still under the posted limit, although definitely faster than the road conditions dictated. The next cross street was at least a half mile away. Suddenly a flash of blue and gold appeared in front of her, a figure darting out from between parked cars. Veronica jammed both feet on the brakes and jerked the steering wheel hard to the left but there was just no time. The snow gave her no traction and an eerie silence filled the air as she watched the low front of the Porsche strike the pedestrian and throw the helpless person up onto the windshield. The red sports car finally came to a halt several car lengths later and the broken body slumped off the hood onto the snow covered ground. For several seconds Veronica could do nothing but grip the steering wheel and stare at the spider web pattern that now made up her windshield while her heart pounded mercilessly. The reality of what had happened finally sunk in and with shaking hands she opened the door. She looked around quickly for any witnesses but at 12:30 on a Tuesday night everyone was in bed. She never saw the gang of thugs that had been chasing the victim turn around and slink back into the darkness of the park.

Blood was already beginning to pool on the ground beneath the body, although the extreme cold made the flow far less than it would normally have been. Veronica knelt down beside the crumpled form and with her gloved hand rolled the victim over. She gasped when she saw the battered face of a young woman. "Oh my god." A flash of green just on the edge of her vision caused the raven haired woman to turn and look up. A traffic light. She glanced over at the cross street. New Scotland Avenue. She was only three blocks from the Medical Center. She quickly opened the passenger door and pulled the lever that reclined the seat. Veronica knew that the best thing was to try and immobilize the woman but there wasn't any way she could do that at the moment and the puddle of blood was steadily growing. The hospital was too close to think about calling for an ambulance and wasting precious minutes. The decision made, Veronica slipped her arms under the unconscious woman's shoulders and dragged her to the car. Less than a minute later they were speeding toward the Medical Center.

As she pulled into the drive marked "Emergency" a thought occurred to the corporate magnate. Not only had she been speeding and hit this woman but if a cop chose to do a breathalyzer there was no way that she would pass, not after all the wine she had consumed at Sam's just a short while earlier. She jerked the car to the right at the last moment and pulled into the one of the surgeon's parking slots. In the dark with only the back of the Porsche showing, no one would question it being parked there. She exited the car and walked toward the emergency entrance, trying desperately to think of what to do. The answer came to her when she spotted a gurney sitting just inside the glass doors. Veronica grabbed the stretcher and wheeled it out to her car. Hours spent in her private gym made it easy for her to lift the unconscious woman up onto the gurney. During the transfer, a small sports wallet fell out of the victim's back pocket and landed on the snow covered ground. Veronica picked it up, tucked it inside her leather jacket, and ran as fast as she could while pushing the stretcher toward the emergency entrance.

"I need some help here! This woman's been hit by a car!" she yelled as soon as the inner doors slid open. The charge nurse and the night intern raced over to begin triage. "We've got multiple injuries, check the board and see who's on call for the OR." the blond doctor said. A clerk immediately left to page the surgeon and to call for assistance while the nurse began taking the unconscious woman's blood pressure. Standing back out of the way, Veronica watched on in horror as the doctor cut the young woman's jacket and clothes off her body. Everything seemed to be covered with blood, especially the pants. An older doctor arrived on the scene, his hair mussed from sleep.

"What do we have?"

"Hit and run. Compound breaks of both tibias and fibulas, Doctor Maise," the young doctor explained. "Probable internal injuries as well. Whoever hit her was going fast."

"Have them prep OR 2. Type and cross match six units of blood and page Doctor's Gannon and Marks to assist." The rest of the conversation was lost on Veronica as she put her hands in her pockets and felt the cold wallet tucked inside. She opened the thin wallet, surprised at the lack of contents. There were no pictures, no credit cards, not even a driver's license. A blue library card identified the victim as Rose Grayson and gave her address as Morris Street. A social security card and a Money Slasher check cashing card were the only other pieces of identification. She opened the Velcro compartment inside and found two bus tokens, one house key, and twelve cents. There was nothing else. Well, at least they'd have a name and address to go on, she thought as she walked over to the charge nurse's desk. As she approached, she heard the two woman behind the desk talking.

"Looks like an indigent to me. Put her down as Jane Doe let's see" She shuffled papers around on the desktop. "number 77. Once she's out of danger they'll transport her over to Memorial anyway."

"Excuse me," Veronica interrupted. "She's been hit by a car and badly injured. Why would they move her to another hospital?"

"Look Miss," the charge nurse, whose badge simply read Mrs. Garrison, said. "This hospital is mandated by the State of New York to provide all that come here in urgent need medical care. Once they're no longer in danger of dying from their injuries, we can transport them to another hospital that hasn't met their requirement for indigents."

"Requirement for indigents?"

"We are required to provide full care for a certain number of indigents at no cost each year. We've met that requirement. It's obvious she has no money and most likely no insurance. They're taking her into surgery now, surgery that she'll probably never pay for. This hospital doesn't operate on good intentions alone. If she has no ability to pay, she gets transported over to Memorial. They haven't met their obligation this year."

The dark haired woman understood the insurance, no staying at the best Medical Center in the region. "But she has insurance," Veronica blurted, her decision made. "I mean…I know her. She's an employee of mine."

"She has insurance?" Nurse Garrison asked incredulously. "Miss, it's twenty below out there with the wind chill. She's running around in a spring jacket that looks like it was taken from the garbage can. Insurance fraud is a crime in New York. Where's her insurance card?"

"No, I'm telling you she has insurance. Look," Veronica reached inside her jacket and pulled out her small business card case. "I'm Veronica Cartwright, president and CEO of Cartwright Corporation." She quickly looked down at the library card in her hand. "Miss Grayson just started working for us. There hasn't been time for them to issue her card but I swear she does have insurance through my company. Now is there a form or something that I have to sign to authorize this?"

Now realizing that she may have made a mistake, the charge nurse backpedaled. She reached over and grabbed one of several clipboards already set up with a non-removable pen and multi-part forms. "Fill out sections one through ten to the best of your ability. Do you know how to contact her next of kin?"

"Uh, no…I'm sure that information is at the office somewhere. I can call with it tomorrow."

"Fine." The nurse turned to address her coworker. "Change the chart for Jane Doe 77. Her name is" she turned back to the tall woman questioningly.

"Rose Grayson."

"Rose Grayson," Nurse Garrison repeated, as if the younger nurse didn't hear it the first time.

Veronica walked away from the charge desk and slumped down in one of the orange vinyl chairs to fill out what little information she did know and settle in for the long wait.




By the third hour of surgery Veronica became very worried. There had been no word on the young woman she had hit and the lack of knowledge set the executive's nerves on edge. What if she died? Veronica shuddered at the thought. Then another thought came to mind. Daylight would arrive soon and the obvious damage to the front of her car would be noticeable. Noticeable meant questions, questions she didn't want to answer. She walked over to the pay phone. The woman who always granted favors now needed one. Veronica dialed the familiar number. On the third ring, a sleep filled male voice answered. "You'd better have a fucking good reason for waking me up."

"Frank, it's Ronnie."

"Ronnie?" the tone changed immediately. "Hey cuz, what's up?"

"I need…" she swallowed. "I need a favor."

"Did you get that idiot to grant the variance?"

"It's in the bag. Listen Frank, this is important." She heard the flicker of a lighter as her cousin lit a cigarette in an attempt to fully wake up. "I need you to come pick up my car and drop me off another one."

"Since when did I become your private tow truck service?"

"Since I had to spend an evening bailing your ass out with that jerk Grace," she growled. "It's in the emergency parking lot at Albany Med. Park the other car in the general lot and bring the keys to me in the emergency waiting room. Frank, you have to do this now. It can't wait until morning." She knew that the cost of asking the favor would far outweigh the actual favor but sometimes that was just the way it was. At least she knew who to turn to when she needed something done discretely. Her favorite cousin was nothing if not careful.

"The emergency room? Ronnie, you okay?"

"Quiet down, Frank. You'll wake Agnes up. Yes, I'm fine, just a big shaken." She looked at her watch. "I really need you to come down here and get the car."

"Is your car driveable or did you wrap it around a tree?"

"The windshield and front end are smashed up. You're better off driving it a couple of blocks and then putting it on a flatbed."

"Jeez, you don't ask for much, do you? You know I'll have to get John to help me. I can't drive a wrecker and a spare car."

"Put the spare on the wrecker, then you won't need another driver, just do it now." she hung up the phone and returned to the chair that had been making her ass uncomfortable for the last three hours. She picked up a four month old issue of People and had just begun flipping through it when Doctor Maise stepped into the room.

"Grayson. Anyone here for Grayson?" he asked loudly, although Veronica was the only person in the room.

"Here." She rose to her feet quickly. "How is she?"

"As well as can be expected, I guess. She's resting now. Are you family?"

"Uh…no, I'm her employer."

"Oh…have you contacted her family yet?"

"Not yet. My secretary is working on it," she lied. "How is she?"

"Well, both legs were badly broken and there was a hairline fracture to her skull, most likely from hitting the concrete. Other than abrasions and a gash on her face that required several stitches, there wasn't much else. No internal injuries anyway. She'll live, but it'll be quite a while before she's able to return to work, I'm sure." He took off his glasses and wiped them with the corner of his doctor's coat. "I'd say probably three months for the legs to heal, then maybe three to six months of physical therapy."

"Oh god." Veronica sat back down, unable to believe that in a split second she had ruined someone else's life for who knows how long.

"Did you see the accident?" he asked, pulling her back from her thoughts.

"Uh, no, I didn't," she said, praying that John hadn't fallen back asleep and was on his way with the wrecker and a spare car.

"Well, whoever it was hit that poor girl hard. Probably some drunk who didn't even realize he hit her."

"Probably," she repeated.

"Well, if you'll excuse me, I need to go check on her." He left the waiting room. She watched him go, then sunk back into the orange chair. The woman, Rose, would live. She breathed a sigh of relief at that but the guilt still weighed heavily upon her. In one brief moment she had destroyed the young woman's legs, in her mind possibly crippling Miss Grayson for life.




The sky was still dark when Veronica closed her eyes, fatigue threatening to claim her. Minutes later they opened again when her nose was assaulted by the scent of far too much cheap cologne. "Cuz."

"Hi Frank," she said wearily as he plopped down in the seat next to her. "Did you take care of it?"

"All done," he said proudly, holding out a set of keys. "Blue Mazda. Third level, dealer plates. Can't miss it."


"No problem. Always happy to do a favor for my favorite cousin." He smiled, showing off teeth that were far too white to be real. "So what'd ya do? Hit someone?"

"Shut up!" she hissed through clenched teeth, amazed at the amount of stupidity that her cousin seemed to possess.

"Sorry." He held up his hands in a placating gesture. "Jeez, is it your time of the month or something?"

"Thanks for taking care of that, Frank. Do me a favor and make sure the Porsche is taken to my place. Park it in the garage. I'll have Hans come over and fix it."

"I don't understand why you go to him instead of having Michael work on it. You know he owns-"

"Michael owns a Toyota dealership. He works on twenty and thirty thousand dollar cars, not Porsches. Hans is the best mechanic I know. Just make sure it's put in the garage, out of sight. Move the Jeep if you need room."

"Fine," he sighed, knowing that he would never win the argument. He looked around for something to occupy his interest.

"Is that it?" she queried, looking pointed at him and then at the door.

"You're not gonna tell me why you're here or why your car is all smashed up, are you?"

"Frank, what happened to my car or why I'm here, that's my business, just like where all the profits from the car wash go are your business. Got it?"

"Got it." He knew better than to piss off his cousin, knowing full well just how volatile she could be sometimes. He stood up. "You know my number if you ever need anything."

"Yup." She opened the People magazine and flipped through the pages, effectively dismissing him. She waited until he was out the door before heading to the nurse's station to inquire about the young woman's condition.




Veronica stepped out into the dreary grey of another day. The snow had stopped and now the streets were full of people trying to make their way to work through the frozen slush. She reached in her pocket and pulled out the library card. Morris Street. She tried to picture where the street was in relation to the hospital. Certain that it wasn't far and that she could find it without a map, Veronica headed for the multi-level parking garage.

The small blue car was parked right where John had said it would be. The raven haired woman tossed her attach into the passenger seat and folded her long frame into the small space of the driver's seat, fumbling around until she found the lever that allowed her to push the seat back so that her knees weren't kissing her chin. She had to turn the key several times before the 323 would sputter to life. Veronica gunned the gas repeatedly until the old car seemed willing to continue on its own. "Frank, you son of a bitch," she swore as the beat up excuse for a vehicle slowly put-putted out of the parking spot and headed down the ramp.

Veronica took a left out of the parking garage and drove up New Scotland Avenue heading toward the park. She went two blocks before the street sign she was looking for appeared. As she thought, Morris Street was a one-way, of course in the direction opposite the way she wanted to go. A quick turn on Madison and another on Knox put her at the other end of the block and finally she was able to go up the narrow street.

Morris street was once home to doctors and families of wealth but had long ago changed to a street known more for the occasional drive-bys and roaches than anything else. The homes were packed tightly together, usually with less than a foot between them. Veronica pulled over at the only open space she found, ignoring the red fire hydrant prominently standing on the broken sidewalk. Veronica grabbed her attach off the seat next to her and stepped out of the car. She briefly thought about locking the battered heap but decided that it wasn't worth the effort. If a thief wanted to fight with the stupid thing to get it running, it was fine with her. She climbed over the snowbank and looked around for house numbers. Most buildings were missing one or both digits but eventually she found the place that Rose Grayson called home.

Veronica climbed the rickety and slippery steps until she reached the outer doors that led to the first and second floor apartments. A look at the three wall mounted mailboxes showed that Rose lived in the basement apartment. She pulled the small stack of mail from the box and stepped back out onto the landing. Cursing at the thought of negotiating the snow covered stairs again, the raven haired woman placed her gloved hand on the shaky metal railing and slowly made her way back to the street level. Under the stairs she found a door missing most of its paint. A small card taped to the glass said simply "Grayson". Veronica knocked several times but received no answer. Perhaps the young woman lived alone. Reaching in her pocket, she pulled the key out of the worn sports wallet and wiggled it into the lock built in to the door handle. It took a few tries but finally the lock turned, allowing the executive entrance the small apartment.

To say that Rose lived in abject poverty would have been kind. The first room Veronica entered was most likely the living room, although no one would have known from the furniture. A lawn chair missing several strips sat in the middle of the room, books marked "Albany Public Library" piled up next to it. That was the extent of the furnishings. Not a single picture or poster hung on the walls. Not that a dozen pictures would have made a difference. The old, crumbly plaster was missing in several places, showing the dried out slats beneath. The ceiling was in a similar state of disrepair. Yellowed water stains formed jagged circles and in several places it sagged noticeably. Veronica doubted it would be long before the ceiling began to cave in. The apartment was extremely cool and a quick check of the thermostat showed why. Dust had settled on the dial, indicating that the temperature hadn't been changed in quite some time. It was set at 60 but with the drafts coming from the old windows the room felt more like fifty. She set her attach down on the rickety lawn chair, then reached into her pocket and removed the two letters that she had taken from Rose's mailbox. The first was nothing more than junk mail announcing that if the winning number matched the one in the envelope that "Dose Graydon" would be the winner of eleven million dollars. The other letter was a yellow envelope from the power company. Although she knew she shouldn't, Veronica slipped one well manicured fingernail under the corner and opened it. As she had suspected, it was a disconnection notice. She tucked that one back in her pocket and headed for the bedroom, hoping to find an address book or something that would indicate whom she should notify that the young woman was in the hospital.

The bedroom was just as revealing as the living room. A small rollaway bed was pushed up against the wall and a fold up chair served as a makeshift dresser. Two pairs of jeans that had long ago seen better days and equally worn sweatshirts made up the small pile of clothes along with a few pairs of socks looking more like Swiss cheese than footwear. A thorough search, not that it took much effort, failed to reveal any address books or other personal items. Not one letter from a friend, no pictures, nothing that indicated that Rose knew anyone or that anyone knew Rose.

The bathroom was just another depressing stop on Veronica's tour. The medicine cabinet contained one nearly empty stick of deodorant and a flattened down tube of toothpaste, both sporting the Money Slasher brand name. Two tampons sat on the back of the toilet along with a half-empty roll of toilet paper. A worn towel was draped over the edge of the tub and three pairs of tattered underwear hung over the shower rod. "How do you live like this?" she asked aloud as she turned to leave the small bathroom. As she did, she noticed the one item that she had previously missed before. Sandwiched between the sink and the wall was a small litter box. "Well at least you're not alone." As if on cue, an orange and white kitten no more than four months old came scampering into the bathroom, yowling quite loudly to announce its presence. "Hello there."

"Mrrow!" Veronica leaned down to pet it but the cat took off toward the kitchen. "Come here. I'm not going to hurt you."

"Mrrow!" The cat remained at the entrance to the kitchen, refusing to come any closer. "Fine, be that way, see if I give a shit." She walked past the kitty and entered the kitchen, wishing quickly that she hadn't.

The stove was an old gas model that probably was quite efficient back in her grandmother's day. A small frying pan and pot sat on top while a well used cookie sheet rested inside the oven. She opened one drawer and took a step back as several roaches scampered about, trying to sneak back into the darkness. She shut the drawer quickly, but not before noticing the one mismatched set of silverware that it contained. The refrigerator contained a plastic milk bottle that had been refilled with water, half a jar of mayonnaise, a stick of margarine, and an almost empty bottle of ketchup. When Veronica reached for the cupboard door, her legs were quickly encircled by the anxious cat.

"Meow, meow, mrrrow?" Sure enough, the cupboard held within it one half empty box of Money Slasher cat food and a box of elbow macaroni. "Mrrow, meow?"

"Okay, okay, I get the hint," she said, pulling the box out. The orange and white cat scrambled over to her bowl, waiting none too patiently for the tall human to feed her. "How much do cats your size eat, anyway?"


"Never mind." She poured the dry food into the bowl until it reached the brim. "There, that should keep you for a while." She looked at the water dish. "I suppose you'd like some fresh water too, your majesty?" The cat was too busy chowing down to answer. Veronica took the bowl to the sink and dumped the remaining water before turning the tap on. A horrid clunking sound came from the pipes and she quickly shut it off. "Looks like you get the water from the fridge." She set the bowl on the floor next to the food dish and was about to continue her search when she heard pounding on the door.

"Grayson, I know you're in there. I heard you turn the water on," the angry voice on the other side of the door yelled. "It's the third already and I want my fucking rent money now!" He pounded again. "God Dammit, I'm sick of your whining about your tiny paycheck. If you couldn't afford this place then you never should have moved in here god damn piece of trash!"

The door flung open to reveal a portly man who reeked of alcohol despite the early morning hour. "Who the fuck are you? I told her that roommates cost extra."

"How much does she owe you?" Veronica queried, trying very hard to keep her temper in check.

"Four fifty. Six if I find out you're living here too," he growled. "So who the fuck are you?"

Veronica didn't answer, instead walking over to the lawn chair and rummaging through her attach until she found her checkbook. "What's your name?"

"What's it matter to you?"

"If you want to be paid for the rent, I need a name to write on the check or should I just fill in the word asshole?"

"I don't take fucking checks. They always bounce."

"I guarantee this one won't bounce. Give me a name."

"Cecil Romano, but I'm not taking any fucking check."

"Have you heard of the Cartwright Corporation?" She asked while filling in the various parts of the check.

"Of course, who hasn't."

"Well, I'm Veronica Cartwright. This check is from my personal account. If you want your rent money I suggest you take this." She handed over the check.
Cecil looked at it carefully, certain that it was a trick.

"I'll need ID."

"Fine. Would you like to see my driver's license or would any major credit card do?" She asked, reaching into the attach and pulling out her wallet. At that moment the orange and white kitty decided to come out and see what all the fuss was about.

"What the fuck is that?"

"Looks like a cat to me. Tell me, are you capable of forming a complete sentence without the word fuck in it?"

"I told her no pets. No pets means no fucking pets. No pets, no roommates, no whatever the fuck you are." He folded up the check and stuffed it in his pocket. "I've had it. She bitches about everything from a little noise in the pipes to wanting to paint the walls and now this. When you see the little bitch you tell her that I want her out of here by the end of the week. She and that flea ridden thing can go live in the snowbank for all I care."

"Fine. I'll see to it that her things are moved out of here immediately. I assume you own the hundred year old stove and fridge?"

"God damn right I own them. I own that bed she sleeps in too. She was supposed to buy it from me for fifty bucks but I haven't seen it yet."

"Well, now you won't. You can keep it." She tucked her wallet and checkbook back into her case. "Is there anything else or do you feel the need to continue to assault me with your stinking breath?"

"I don't give a fuck who you are, you can't come in my house and talk to me that way," he snarled. "Just make sure the place is in the same condition as when she moved in or she doesn't get her security back."

"I doubt you'd give it back anyway," Veronica countered. "After all, you are the epitome of a slum lord."

"You'd better take that damn cat with you when you leave or I'll wring its fucking neck and throw it out in the snowbank." He flung the door open, letting the cold air mix with the cool air already inside the apartment. "And make sure she forwards her fucking mail," he growled as he slammed the door.

Veronica turned and rubbed her forehead. "Meow?"

"Well, I guess I have company for a few days, huh?" She said, sitting down on the bare floor next to the cat. "Wish I knew your name. It'd be much easier than calling you 'cat' all the time."

"Mrrow," the kitty replied, climbing onto the raven haired woman's lap. Veronica allowed the purring feline to remain for a few minutes while she tried to think through what just happened. She had only meant to find out who to contact to let them know that Rose was hurt and ended up getting the young woman evicted. Not that it was much of a loss, considering the conditions she was living in. No matter, she decided. Her cousin Danielle, ran Cartwright Properties, surely there was an affordable apartment available that they could put Rose into. "Something with real walls," she muttered, looking at a dinner plate sized hole in the opposite wall. "Okay cat, time to move." The kitty objected vocally but finally acquiesced when the tall human stood up. "Let's get your momma's things together and get you out of here and into someplace warmer."

Moving Rose's belongings was easy, especially when Veronica decided that the only things that had to leave the decrepit apartment were the library books and the checkbook she found in the kitchen drawer. The worn out clothes, the useless furniture…she decided that for four hundred fifty bucks Cecil could clean them out himself. Tucking the checkbook into her attach, the library books under her arm, and the cat inside her jacket, Veronica left the apartment, not bothering to lock the door.




Rose opened her eyes and looked around, groaning at both the pain and the realization of where she was. A young blonde nurse looked up and smiled. "Good morning, Miss Grayson. My name is Mary." She pulled a digital thermometer out of her pocket, placed a protective sheath over the tip, and put it in Rose's mouth. "You've been in a very bad accident." She wrapped the blood pressure cuff around Rose's upper arm and pressed her stethoscope against the inside of the young woman's elbow. The thermometer beeped and Mary pulled it back to check the reading. "Fine."

"Excuse me" Rose inhaled sharply as the nurse made a note on her chart. She felt dopey but scared at the same time. "Wha...what happened?"

"You were hit by a car last night. You're very lucky that your boss was driving by and saw you. She brought you to the hospital."

"My boss? Kim found me?"

"Oh, I don't know her name, deary. I wasn't here last night. I work the day shift." She carefully cleaned the skin around the neat row of stitches on Rose's cheek. "You were in surgery for quite a while and you're in the recovery room right now. We just need to make sure you're stabilized and then you'll be taken to your room."

"My legs?" She tried to sit up but that only served to increase the intense pain she was feeling in her lower extremities.

"Both your legs were broken. The surgeons worked for hours last night putting the bones back in place."

"It hurts." Rose lifted her head to see the stark white of full leg casts.

"They're giving you something for the pain in your IV," the nurse said. "I'll let the doctor know you're awake."

The instant the nurse left the room, Rose broke down in tears. Her face and ribs hurt but it was nothing compared to the excruciating agony her legs were in. She didn't even want to think about the hospital bill, which no doubt was increasing with every hour that she spent there. She reached over to pour herself a cup of water from the plastic pitcher on the stand next to the bed but the movement caused so much pain that she was unable to complete her task. Whatever they were giving her for the pain was also making her limbs feel extremely heavy and it didn't take long for Rose to fall back into an uneasy sleep.




Veronica pulled the Mazda into her driveway and parked it next to the garage. To her great annoyance, removing the key from the ignition did not shut the engine off. Instead the blue car continued to sputter and wheeze before for a minute before finally dying. "Well, Cat. I think it's safe to say that the next place this piece of shit will go is to the junkyard."

"Mrrow?" The feline replied as she tried to climb onto the tall woman's lap.

"No no no. This isn't petting time." She tucked the cat under her arm and opened the door. "Come on, let's see if Maria can find something in the kitchen for you to eat."

As she exited the car with the cat in tow, Veronica glanced over at her three car garage. The middle door was unlocked and through the half-moon window she saw her Porsche. She silently thanked her cousin Frank for helping her out. The cat squirmed in her grip. "Oh no you don't. I'm not running all over the neighborhood looking for you."

Ronnie opened the sliding glass door and entered into the kitchen. Once inside she set the orange and white kitty on the floor. "Maria? Maria are you here?" The keys to the blue car were tossed on the counter.

"I'm here," a voice from the living room called.

"We've got company," Veronica responded.

Maria was an older woman working on her thirtieth year with the Cartwright family and was near and dear to Veronica's heart. Jet black hair had long ago given way to a salt and pepper combination and her middle age spread made her lap perfect for whenever the young children came over. Maria walked into the kitchen. "It's not good for you to be out all night, Ronnie," she chastised. "If your mother knew."

"I wasn't out whoring around, Maria," she responded, pleased with the shocked reaction on the older woman's face. She unzipped her jacket and tossed it over one of the stools next to the cook's island. "Do we have anything here to feed."


"-a cat?" She finished.

Maria looked down at Veronica's feet to see the orange and white feline rubbing against her. "Oh my. You brought home a cat?"

"It's not a permanent arrangement. He's only going to be here for a few days while his owner is in the hospital."

The housekeeper bent down and picked up the now purring feline. "I hate to tell you, Ronnie, but he is a she. What's her name?"

"I don't know. Call it Cat for now."

"Hi sweetie, what a pretty kitty you are," Maria cooed, holding the happy pet to her ample chest. "Would you like some tuna?" She carried the cat over to the pantry and pulled out a can. "Hmm, doesn't that sound nice?"

"I don't think he, I mean she's ever had tuna before. I think she's only had dry food."

"Oh well then." Maria put the can on the counter and set the cat gently on the floor. "It's not good to take her from dry right to canned. It'll be too rich for her. I can mix them together."

"I didn't bring any. I guess we'll have to get her some food."

"Well, I've already been shopping this week but if you want I'll run out now. I can start lunch when I get back." She wiped her hands on her apron and reached for the ties.

"No, that's fine. I'll go out and pick up some food for her. I guess we need a litter box too."

"You took a cat without even getting a litter box? Ronnie, what am I going to do with you?"

"Well, her box was dirty and I wasn't about to touch it." Veronica protested. "Look, just make me a cup of coffee while I go take a shower and change. I'll run out and pick up the things the cat will need."

"I'll make you a list. Knowing you, you'll get the box and forget the litter."

"Funny," came the sarcastic reply, although in fact she didn't think about getting stuff to put in the litter box. "I'll be back down in a little bit. Try and keep fuzzball off the couch and away from the antiques, okay?"




The mall was busy for a Wednesday afternoon and Veronica ended up parking at the far end of a row. A quick press of the button on her keychain and the bright blue Jeep Cherokee's doors locked and a warning light on the dash indicated that the alarm system was armed.

It took her fifteen minutes to navigate her way around the mall until she found the pet store. Once inside, she walked down the isles until she found the cat supplies. Racks and shelves of everything from fake mice and scratching posts to catnip and collars vied for her wallet. Veronica hated shopping and when the teenage clerk offered to help her pick out things for her new pet, the raven haired woman readily agreed. The result was seventy-five dollars worth of litter, toys, food, catnip, and various other items that the young girl insisted were necessary for a happy and healthy cat.

After finishing her shopping, Veronica went to the hospital to check on Rose. She wasn't at all prepared for what she saw. The sheet covering the young woman's legs outlined the full length casts. A nasty looking row of stitches surrounded by an equally nasty looking bruise covered one cheek and dried tear streaks prominently showed on her face. An IV with several bags hung from one side, giving the injured woman the fluids and pain medications she needed. A catheter disappeared under the blanket. Veronica's heart ached for the pain that Rose was in as well as the pain that she would go through as she recovered, knowing deep inside that her recklessness behind the wheel was the only reason the young woman was here. As if sensing her presence, the reddish-blonde head turned and green eyes focused on her. "Hello." she said politely, her voice a bit raspy.

"Hello Rose. How are you feeling?"

"Lucky to be alive I guess," she croaked, her eyes trailing over toward the water pitcher. Veronica immediately walked over and poured some into the yellow plastic cup.

"Here." She handed the cup over but then quickly reclaimed her grip on it when she saw the young woman's hand shake. "Let me help." Together they got half the cup down Rose's throat before Veronica returned it to the small stand. "Do you remember anything about the accident?"

"No, not really. I was running some men were chasing me I got out of the park and ran out into the street that's all I remember before waking up here."

"You don't remember anything about the car that hit you?" Veronica prodded. "The color, the type of car, the driver, anything?"

"No, nothing. I'm sorry. Are you with the police?"

"No." Inwardly Veronica breathed a sigh of relief. Rose couldn't remember what happened. With a little luck she might just be able to pull this off.

"Oh, then I suppose you're here to talk to me about the bill?" Rose asked, deciding that the beautiful, well dressed woman had to be a hospital administrator, despite wearing a jacket. Perhaps she had just on duty, Rose reasoned.

"Actually, I do need to talk to you about that but-"

"I have no money," she interrupted. "I don't have kids, I don't qualify for any programs." She gave a defeated sigh.
"I'll give you whatever I can each week but I'm afraid it won't be more than five dollars or so." She resigned herself to giving up her bus fare to help pay for the impossible bill.

"You don't need to do that," Veronica said, amazed that someone with obviously little or no money was so quick to take financial responsibility for the hospital bill. "Perhaps you'd better let me explain." Rose nodded. "My name is Veronica Cartwright. I own Cartwright Corporation. I um I found you after the accident and brought you here. When I realized that you didn't have insurance, I told them that you worked for me. Cartwright has an excellent benefits package including medical coverage. You won't have to pay a cent for your care, I promise."

"You? But they told me that my boss…" Realization set in. "You told them you were my boss?"


"Oh." Rose seemed to ponder the information. "So instead of owing the hospital, I'll owe you?"

"No no no. By the end of the day your name will be added to the insurance rolls. I'll have it backdated to before the accident and you'll be covered."

"But isn't that fraud?"

"Only if you didn't work for me." Damn, why did she have to be so difficult? Couldn't she just accept that the bill would be covered? Veronica couldn't understand why someone who had nothing was questioning a good thing when it was being offered to her. Maybe she miscalculated just how poor the young woman was. She needed more information. "Tell me, where do you work now?"

"I" Rose looked down, clearly embarrassed. "I work part-time as a cashier at Money Slasher. I should say I worked part-time. I'm sure they won't hold the job for me until I can walk again."

"Do you have any skills? I mean, can you type or take dictation or anything like that?" The crestfallen look on the young woman's face answered the question.

"Well then, I guess you're a clerk. It's an entry level job but it's better than bagging groceries."

"But I can't work." She looked down at the casts covering her legs. "I can't even walk."

"The job will be there when you're ready. Until then, you just concentrate on recovering." It was so simple, why was she making it difficult? Veronica didn't plan on this.

"Mrs. Cartwright?"

"It's Miss, but please call me Veronica."

"Why are you doing this? I mean, you don't know me." After a lifetime of being handed the short end of the stick, an act of such great generosity was too much for her to believe. There had to be something more to it. Everything had a price attached.

The raven haired woman thought quickly, running through the stories she had made up in her mind on the way over, discarding all of them as being lame. "I guess I just wanted to help. I saw you lying there on the street and I reacted. The only way to keep you here at the Med Center was to tell them you had insurance and the only way to give you insurance was to make you an employee. I run a large corporation that operates several smaller ones. Adding you to the rolls isn't a big deal. I'm sorry, I don't have a better explanation." The only other explanation would involve the truth and Veronica couldn't afford that. "Don't worry about why I'm helping. Just let me. Now, is there someone I should contact to let them know you're in the hospital?"

"Um guess Kim should know so she can hire someone else for my slot." Rose said quietly, mourning the loss of the job she had worked so hard to get. It was too much for her to believe that she was being offered a job with a company as large as Cartwright Corp. "She's the night manager at Money Slasher on Central. I have to turn in my smock in order to get my last paycheck."

"Would that be the grey thing you were wearing under your jacket?" Rose nodded. "I'm afraid the doctor in the emergency room cut that to pieces when they were treating you."

"Oh." Another crestfallen look. "They charge eight dollars for ruined smocks."

"Don't worry about it," Veronica said, not fully understanding how important the small sum of money was to the young woman. To Rose, that was her weekly allotment for groceries, almost half of which went to cat food. Through her drug filled haze, a thought came to her.

"Tabitha!" She exclaimed. "Oh my god, someone has to take care of Tabitha."

"Would that be your cat?"

"Yes, how did you know?"

"I found your key in your wallet and went to your apartment hoping to find a name or number of someone to contact for you."

"Did you feed her?" Her concern that someone was in her run down apartment was overshadowed by her worry over the one thing that brought some kind of joy to her life.

"Yes I did," Veronica replied as Rose turned away, letting a long silence form between them. A lone tear made its way down the young woman's cheek. "Hey, what's wrong? Are you in pain? Do you need me to call the nurse?" Veronica's hand was already reaching for the call button.

"No," the young woman sniffed, wiping away the errant tear. "It's just that" She sniffled again, "if I'm not there to take care of Tabitha, they're going to take her away."

"No no no. No one's going to take Tabitha away from you. I promise. In fact, she's at my house right now. She can stay with me until you're all settled."

Veronica's heart lurched with the thought of how easily she had destroyed Rose's life. In one move she had cost the young woman her job, her home, and far more pain than anyone deserved to have. Now she was sitting there, lying to her in order to protect herself. "I swear no one will take Tabitha away."

"I I can write you a check for her food. She doesn't eat much. She's very friendly." The words rolled out of Rose's mouth and there was no way that the older woman could miss the desperation in her voice.

"Don't worry about it. Please, I want you to concentrate on getting better. Tabitha will be fine with me. I live alone, I'm sure I'll enjoy the company."

The dark haired woman was about to say something else when a firm knock on the door caused them to turn. Veronica's heart skipped a beat at the sight of the blue uniform and shiny badge. "Excuse me ladies. I'm here to take a report on the hit and run last night?" He stepped in and pulled a small notebook out of his shirt pocket. "You're Rose Grayson, right?" He continued on without waiting for an answer. "Now I understand this happened on Madison Ave. around midnight?"

"I think it was more like twelve thirty," Rose said.

"Yes, twelve thirty," he repeated. "Now is there anything you can tell me, like the make and model of the car that hit you, the license number, the color?"

"No, I never saw it." She turned her head toward Veronica. "Do you remember?"

"You were there too?" The officer queried. No one had told him there were any witnesses.

"I um I must have come upon her just after the accident. I didn't see anyone."

"That sure was a hell of a storm last night. What were you doing out so late, Miss?"

"Cartwright, Veronica Cartwright. I had a business dinner with Commissioner Grace at Sam's and was heading home."

"Cartwright, as in the car wash Cartwrights?"

"Yes, among other holdings," she replied, annoyed that after all her hard work the most well known part of her company was the cousin's stupid car washes.

"Well then" He turned his attention back to the victim lying in bed. "I guess you're pretty lucky to have had her come up on you. Looks like they hit you pretty good. Probably a drunk driver. Hard to believe the bastard didn't have the guts to stick around and make sure you got help but I guess all that matters is that you're alive."

"Yes, I was very lucky that Miss Cartwright came along when she did. Who knows how long I was lying there."

"Well, if I could just get your address and phone number for the report, we'll be all set. I have to tell you that there isn't much to go on so don't get your hopes up. Unless this guy is stupid enough to be driving around with a lot of front end damage and admits to being on Madison last night, there's not really much we can do."

"I understand," Rose said quietly. She didn't expect them to find the man that hit her. "I don't have a phone but my address is 98 Morris Street." Veronica's emotions alternated between relief at having such a disinterested cop investigating the accident and guilt at the fact that she was lying to protect her own skin at the expense of Rose's peace of mind.

"Well, I guess if there's anything I missed, we can find you here. From the looks of your legs I don't think you'll be going anywhere for a while." Veronica bristled at the comment but Rose appeared unaffected.

"Thank you," the young woman said. The cop turned toward the door and noticed a friend of his walking down the hall.

"Hey John, wait up. Ladies, thank you. I'm sure I have all I need right now." He was gone before either could respond.

"They're not going to find him, you know," Rose said quietly. "I know life isn't like television. They don't even know what kind of car to look for." She shifted slightly, grimacing at the pain that was now her constant companion. "Doesn't matter anyway," she sighed. "The damage is done. Even if they did find him it wouldn't make my legs heal any faster."

Veronica didn't know what to say and was grateful when the television vendor walked in. "Good afternoon Miss" She looked down at her clipboard. "Grayson. Would you like your TV turned on?"

"No thank you," Rose said quickly.

"Why not?" Veronica asked, although she was certain she knew the answer.

"I don't like television."

"Uh huh." The raven haired woman turned toward the vendor. "Turn it on and leave it on for as long as Miss Grayson is here."

"It's three dollars a day, twenty dollars per week."

"Fine." Veronica picked her attach off the floor and pulled out her wallet. "Here." She handed the television woman two twenties.

"Very well." She made a notation on her clipboard, then reached behind the TV and unlocked the attached box. A few seconds later the set hummed to life with Judge Judy yelling at the defendant on her courtroom style show.

"There, now you'll have something to help you pass the time," Veronica said after the vendor left.

"You didn't need to do that," Rose replied, feeling very uncomfortable. "I would have been fine without it. You were in my apartment. You know I don't own a TV." She sighed. "Besides, whatever they're giving me for the pain makes me tired. I don't know how much I would watch. Certainly not twenty dollars worth."
"Let's make a deal here, okay? You need help and I want to help. Now the television is paid for. You can either accept it and enjoy it or you can leave it off and stare at a blank screen all day."

The noise from the television interrupted their conversation. "and if you think for one minute that I believe that some stranger broke into your apartment and stole everything that belonged to your roommate here and left all of your stuff behind then you're a complete idiot. I wasn't born yesterday, Mister Richards. Judgment for the plaintiff in the amount of six hundred fifty three dollars and twelve cents. Case dismissed." Veronica looked over to see Rose watching with complete interest.

"It's like being in court," the young woman said, her attention never leaving the set.

"It's a good show."

"Is it on every week?"

"Every day, Rose. You can watch it every day at noon." She smiled and whispered conspiratorially. "I'm too busy to watch it when it airs but I tape it and catch up on the weekends."

"Thank you," the young woman said sincerely, her green eyes smiling at Veronica. "It will make it easier to pass the time here."

"It's the least I could do." She leaned her arms on the railing of the bed. "So are you going to tell me who I can contact besides your job to tell them that you're here? Surely someone will miss you."

The small smile that had been on Rose's face disappeared. "There's no one to contact."

"No one? Not even a friend?"

Rose gave a sad smile. "I haven't lived in Albany that long," she said, not wanting to reveal the truth, that she deliberately avoided making friends because friends liked to stop by and visit and she was too embarrassed at her meager living conditions. She shifted and a shooting pain burned up her left leg, making her cry out. "Oh god that hurts," she hissed. Veronica immediately reached over and pressed the call button repeatedly.

"What is it?" Mary asked as she entered the room.

"She's in pain. Can't you give her anything?"

"She's receiving an appropriate amount through her IV but if she needs more I can give her a shot." She looked at Rose, who was trying hard not to cry. "Miss Grayson?"

"Yes she is. Can't you see she's suffering?" Veronica answered testily.

"Miss Grayson?" The nurse repeated. Rose reluctantly nodded, the pain too much to bear any longer. To her surprise, a larger hand enfolded her own. Another twinge of pain shot through her and she gripped Veronica's hand tightly. The nurse left and returned a minute later with a needle. She unceremoniously pulled the sheet and hospital gown back to expose Rose's right hip and stuck the needle in. "This will sting for a minute." The young woman gripped Veronica's hand even tighter as the medication was injected. "There, all done." The nurse looked up at the dark haired woman. "She'll probably fall asleep in a few minutes."

"Fine, I won't be much longer." The nurse nodded and left, not bothering to pull the sheet back into place. Veronica used her free hand to reach over and cover Rose's hip with the stark white linen. "Do you want me to stay for a while until you fall asleep?"

"No, that's" She was unable to stifle a yawn. "that's all right I'm fine" The powerful drug acted quickly, causing her head to loll to the side and her eyes to take on a glassy look. "Are you sure you're not an angel?" She asked sleepily as her eyelids sagged. "You look like an angel you" Another yawn, "act like" Her eyes closed and the hand that had been holding Veronica's fell limply to the side.

She waited several minutes until she was certain that Rose was asleep before standing up and tucking the blanket around the injured woman. "Sleep well, Rose," she whispered.