Could This Be Love? (18)

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A Story By Deborah Benson


Please say that you wont; I pray that you don’t forget me

“Kim… Kim, wake up you’re crushing me.”

Light poured in through the wide bay windows of John’s apartment. Days of little to no sleep at the hospital had taken their toll before a final release date stamped down on Kimberly’s file.

As soon as the doctor agreed she was fit to travel tickets were bought and a plane flight was scheduled, there wasn’t even a full night’s sleep before they took off.

It was only fair that Kimberly took her revenge by using John as her own personal pillow until she had the opportunity to buy her own pillows.

She had no plans to go shopping any time soon.

“Don’t wanna…” she muttered, her arms tightening around his neck as she kept the majority of her weight across his chest. “Go back to sleep.”

Underneath Kimberly’s slowly strengthening frame lay John, squirming to try and shift the constant weight away. Though his complaints and general discomfort would make it seem as though he was actually meant what he said.

The dopey smile across his half-sleeping face, however, could not belong to a man more content with his position.

Never before had he considered the job title “human pillow” to be one he could enjoy.

“Then just scoot over would you? I can’t feel my arms.”

A disgruntled groan came from his partner as she slowly maneuvered herself off his chest, tucking against his side expertly to keep from leaving in entirely. The sunlight pouring into the room danced off her caramel skin, the pink undertones finally returning after the hospital cleaned out the last of Dakota’s influence over her. Dark brown curls spiraled down across her forehead, having escaped from the braid they had been tied in the night before.

For such an innocent face there was no hiding her dislike for mornings.

“Why don’t you have curtains?” she asked, hiding her head against the crook of his neck.

“I don’t exactly stay here often, and when I do I have to work.” Kimberly scoffed. “Believe it or not I do have a real job.”

“First time I’ve heard about it.” She opened one eye to peer over to John with a smile. “You don’t have to work now do you?”

“As far as they’re concerned I’m sick,” John said with a smile, adding an obviously fake cough.

Kim’s laughter tickled against John:s neck, her tired scowl slowly melting into a smile. The remnants of her time in the theater had begun to fade. With any luck she’d fully recover by the end of the month.

It didn’t matter to John how long it took her though. He’d be by her side until the world around them fell apart. He could handle a month’s worth of early morning cuddles if that was what she needed.

There was even the possibility for Mark to bring them breakfast in bed as long as it wasn’t John who asked.

He couldn’t have imagined a more pleasing situation to wake up to.

“And what about when I’m okay, how am I going to keep you in bed? I don’t want to lose my pillow to your stupid job,” Kim pouted.

John couldn’t help himself. “There are a lot of ways to convince me to stay in bed, Kimberly.”

He barely got a chance to laugh before having a real pillow shoved against his face.

“You’re an idiot,” she giggled, kissing his shoulder happily.

Pushing the pillow off his face John turned over towards Kimberly, wrapping his arms around her lightly to keep her close to his side.

His lips doting all over her forehead, her cheeks, pointedly going over anywhere but her mouth.

Laughter peeled from her full lips as she attempted to pull out from under John’s arm.

Since they had returned this was all their mornings had consisted of. One of them, usually Kim, would fall asleep on the other.

Punishment for the person on top normally consisted of tight cuddles, kisses, and on one particularly energetic occasion nonstop tickling until they had fallen off the bed entirely. The end of each small fight always ended the same though.

Thankfully Mark had given up on coming in the room before noon entirely to avoid walking in on anything he didn’t want to see.

Some days he didn’t even bother calling until two just in case.

They had no intentions of returning to the real world any faster than need be, and frankly they had more than their fair share of it for quite a long time. The only reason either could think to leave the comfort of their bedroom was to go out to eat or to see if anything significantly different had occurred in Dakota’s case. So far the most they had heard was that she had been located somewhere in the Midwest.

As long as she was far away from their bed as possible they could have cared less.

They were together. They were safe. That was all they needed.


“Did you read the front page today?” Mark asked over the breakfast he had brought in.

Kimberly freshly showered hair filled the room with the scent of lavenders and John pleasantly satisfied smile already answered his question. He knew better than to ask if they had done anything productive while he had been busy working. He had made that mistake before only to receive a rather snarky remark about how much time John had to make up for wasting which, along with a rather embarrassed giggle from Kim, put an image in his head that took days to get out.

The only safe topics were casual news, John’s father, and errands Kimberly felt guilty about asking Mark to run.

“We had a late start.” Mark held back a laugh.


“Just news about Dakota’s case, nothing too important. She managed to sell out that Chris man as one of her partners so the list of people angry with her keeps growing. Her trial’s supposed to be in a few months.”

“Good,” Kimberly spoke up, swirling her cup of coffee around while waiting for it to cool. “Has anyone gotten a hold of Luscious?”

“Not that I’ve heard of. Last Serena heard about him he had fled to South America. It’s not like he could do anything besides testify against her anyway. You haven’t changed your mind about that by the way, have you?” Mark asked.

“No. The last thing I want is to have to speak to her again even if it’s just in court.” John draped an arm across her shoulders in support.

“Serena has much more to convict her with than I do. I’ll watch the trial on television.”

Mark nodded, not wanting to push the issue any more than necessary. As far as prosecuting the old theater went John and Serena were the biggest aggressors. Kimberly and several of the other dancers, however, wanted nothing more than to put their old lives behind them. No one would push them to fight something they had just escaped.

It was simply the fact Serena had lost so much of her life because of Dakota and the fact that so much of John’s had been put at risk of being lost that they found it so imperative to fight against. John would be lying if he said he didn’t want to put her behind bars for Kimberly’s sake and Serena would be lying if she denied wanting payback for the years lost.

Either way they both refused to give up until every person responsible for what had gone wrong with the theater had paid their dues.

“Speaking of Serena, did she tell you two the news?” Mark perked up, feeling the need to change the topic.

“We’ve been busy,” John said with a smile, earning himself a nudge in the ribs from Kimberly

“What happened, Mark?” Kim chuckled.

“Well with all the press you guys have been getting some other people have started to take interest and the people who made it to the opening show really loved it and have been talking about it non-stop.” Mark smiled.

“There’s even this one really funny video of when Serena hit Morgan with her shoe mixed to some stupid music and everyone at work has been sharing it around—”

“Mark! Get to the point would you?” John held back a chuckle.

“Right, sorry. Anyway the show and her face have been going around and some guy out in New York got a hold of it and found her through the papers so she’s heading out there in a few weeks to talk to them about setting up a new show without needing any skeevy investors!”

Mark’s smile lit up the room with a childlike innocence.

The fact the show had been picked up surprised Kimberly more than she had expected any news from the theater might. There had always been the talk about moving it to a bigger audience but that was back with Dakota’s drive and Luscious’s money. She had never considered there would be any support coming in from legitimate sources.

She felt as though she should have found the news exciting, but in all honesty the idea of returning to stage made her physically ill.

The trauma from what she had been pushed into was too strong for her to just go back to that much stress so soon. Recovery would take time away from  the theater. The last thing she wanted was to have to go back so soon. “Is she excited?” she managed.

“Thrilled! She’s always wanted a chance on a real stage like that,” Mark chimed. “You two should come see it when it’s up!”

Kimberly perked up. “So you mean she doesn’t need me?”

“Well I mean she wants the lead for herself, you don’t mind do you?”

The small woman began to laugh, relief softening her features into one of the loveliest smiles Mark had seen in quite some time.

Recovery was working. Or John was. Or both. Probably both.

“Not at all! When would they have it?”

“Probably near Christmas time, we could go stay and all have a little Christmas together!” Mark’s eyes widened in excitement “We could make John dress up as Santa!”

With a tilt of the head Kim tried to picture her strong partner in a fat man’s suit much to his displeasure. She broke down into hysterics within the first thirty seconds.

“Oh very funny,” John said, watching his two friends laugh at his expense. “The last thing I’d do is up in some stupid red suit.”

“No but a red superman cape for Halloween is much better,” Mark retorted through his laughter.

A slight pink tint began to spread across John’s cheeks in embarrassment. Kimberly’s laughter only grew louder.

“It was a superman’s cape you idiot.” His argument did little to stop the ridicule. “At least I can come up with something better than dressing up like an old man every year.”

Now it was Mark’s turn to become embarrassed, the tips of his rather large ears turning pink as he attempted to slow his laughter.

“It’s a wizard! Everyone loves a wizard!”

“And everyone loves superman!”

The two began to harp on one another like they had before Dakota complicated their lives. The verbal abuse thrown back and forth began to grow increasingly incoherent as they struggled to think of something while holding back laughter at their own jokes. For two grown men they argued very much like children.

Their efforts were rewarded, not by a winner, but by Kimberly slipping from her position at John’s side to the ground. Her hands clutched her sides as she gasped for air, her laughter making it difficult to do anything besides admit defeat.

Soon the two men joined her, finding her predicament just as hilarious as she had found theirs.

That was how she would manage recovery, she realized. She had John and she had Mark, and somewhere not too far to reach by phone she had Serena. She had found herself a family from the hardest of situations.

That alone was more comfort than any amount of sedative.


Months past as the world began to move on from London’s old scandal. New people caused new problems in new places and the media refocused its attention. Dakota and her partners had been arrested, each receiving significant time behind bars though some bargained their way into more comfortable stays. Money was still money, even from tainted hands. But none of that mattered. Dakota could no longer hurt any of the dancers and that was the only concern those who still remembered what happened had.

Mark had begun to spend a significant amount of time in New York with the new cast, traveling between the two cities to keep up with both his old friends and the new people from the theater he had truly begun to enjoy. As a result Kimberly and John’s lives slowly began to calm down into a peaceful domesticity that neither had experienced before. The earlier laughter remained in the apartment but on a much smaller scale.

There was not the constant need to speak, and by the time John returned to work Kimberly even found herself in need of a few moments to herself every now and again. Never once did they forget what each other meant to them.

Their relationship simply grew from lovesick youths to partners in every sense of the word.

Kimberly had even become a well-known figure at the office, which thankfully had nothing to do with the occasional visit she would have during his lunch hour that never really involved their going out to eat.

Even Collins Grey appreciated having Kim around. Try as hard as he might to find a fault with his son’s partner by the time the story had died down there was nothing for him to hold against her. She was a part of the family and he would simply have to come to terms with that development.

Their lives progressed slowly, with John working during the week while Kimberly began to take up real dance classes when she found herself starting to miss certain aspects of the theater. Some nights she would even call Serena to talk about the progress of the Broadway show, her voice almost envious. The difference between what Serena had begun to do and what Kimberly had entered with was the amount of training needed. Being pretty could only get someone so far.

With John’s help she began to entertain the idea of going back to school for something in the arts. A feat she never could have afforded on her own.

She could only imagine how pleased her parents would have been to meet the man who loved her enough to support her in whatever she wanted to do. Nothing could match her appreciation for him, but theirs would have come damn close.

As time went on and seasons changed Mark’s visits began to be replaced with the occasional phone call as a small group of actors in New York began to take interest in him closer to the opening of the show. All he could really relay was that he had begun to understand what was so bewitching about the theater and that he couldn’t wait for the pair to come visit.

And after what seemed like ages, they finally managed to snag a flight over in time for the opening, intentionally picking a hotel separate from one of London’s chains. The last thing they needed was a reminder of the past.

“I don’t understand how come Mark could just tell us what to wear, its such a bother trying to find out one our own,” John complained, fiddling with one of his silk ties.

“He’s not in charge of dressing you, darling.

Besides it’s the opening night, of course you’re supposed to get dressed up.” Kimberly’s voice carried over from the open bathroom. “All you have to do is put on a suit anyway, once you have to curl your hair then you can come complain to me about getting ready.”

“You don’t have to do your hair though,” John mused, walking to the bathroom, wrapping his arms around Kimberly waist as she worked on her makeup. “I love it when it’s down all loose and messy.”

“Because you make it messy,” she chuckled.

“I’m not going to deny that.” He kissed her neck playfully, pulling her close as soon as she had  finished getting ready for the most part.

Kimberly could only chuckle. “Stop being an ass and zip of my dress for me. I don’t want to be late.”

Holding back a comment about how much more he would enjoy unzipping the dress John obliged. The cascading layers of tight violet silk hung snug against Kimberly’s hips, pooling at the ground despite the tall heels she had bought just for the occasion. At John’s request she had found a dress with sleeves that hung down from her shoulders, flashing bare skin from the top of its bodice to the deep scoop of it’s back.

The sleeves on her forearms acted more as a decoration than anything else as the boning of the bodice was more than strong enough to hold her ample cleavage.

Though she had no need to find a dress for anyone but herself, she couldn’t resist finding one with just enough skin showing to give John a hard time focusing if he lost interest in the musical. He was always much more fun in bed if he had felt as though he had been holding himself back in public. And besides, she really enjoyed the color of the dress.

As soon as they had managed to pull themselves away from each other’s side long enough to check the time they began the quick trip to the theater, having a car waiting at the entrance to their hotel. Mark and the others had promised to meet them at the theater so they had no one to wait on. The quiet before the show was something they savored more than either of them realized at first.

The last time they were preparing for an opening night they had both almost lost everything, even if the circumstances were vastly different there was no way to erase what had happened from their minds. The most they could do was hold onto one another tightly as they made their way into the theater.

Camera’s flashed the moment they stepped out of the car. The flutter of excited paparazzi attempted to slow their walk into the lobby but over the months with the story plaster to every major news network in the country they had grown quite accustomed to how to avoid such distractions. The most they gave was a smile and a quick kiss between the two before finding their tickets.

Kimberly had purposefully asked to avoid any booth seating. The last thing she wanted was memories of her old show resurfacing.

“What have they changed the title to?” John asked, looking through the playbill absentmindedly.

“If you actually read the thing you’d know,” Kim laughed, looking over her own with much more care.

Above a glossy photo of Serena turning away from a man presenting her with an expensive array of jewels was a bright yellow bar, filled with the name of the theater and in bold lettering the words “COME WHAT MAY”. With a small smile on her face Kim opened the playbill to the first page, finding the smiling face’s of the cast looking back up to her.

The words “For John and Kimberly, until our closing day,” printed across the bottom of the photo shined up through the glossy sheen.

“They didn’t change much,” she said with a smile, small tears starting to form out of appreciation. “They just got rid of what Dakota and Luscious wanted.”

“That’s good,” John mused, watching as the lights began to dim.

Kimberly’s hand found it’s way to his, pulling it up to kiss his knuckles happily, not caring when her lipstick smudges.

“They’ve dedicated it to us.”


The show went off without any complications.

Small features changed the first act, fitting it

better into a real theater without losing the

story. Serena, completely free from any bit of

Dakota’s influence, shone brighter than they

had ever seen her before. By the end of the

first act even John found himself emotionally

attached to the story even though he had

Kimberly in his arms beside him.

By the end of the second act each member of

the audience sat at the edge of their seat,

watching in shock as the two male leads came

to a head over who Serena would leave with.

The fight mimicked that of the old show except

when the gun came into play it wasn’t

deflected. Serena’s character fell in the line of

fire to protect the man she loved, and in a

heart-wrenching duet she died. There wasn’t a

dry eye in the theater.

The grip on John’s hands tightened as

Kimberly pulled his hand close to her chest,

her head resting against his shoulder as they

watched the storyline wrap itself up. With one

final assurance of his love the club owner

promised to never forget what had happened, to

never forget what he had lost.

And with that assurance the finale music began

to play.

The sets moved away, leaving Serena standing

alone in a crisp white gown in the center of an

empty stage. With a small sigh she began her

final number. Tears blatantly visible to the

entire theater as she sang. And for just a

moment Kimberly could have sworn she smiled

to her.

“…Forget every man who I ever met, ’cause they

only live to control. For a kiss they paid a

thousand yet, they paid fifty cents for my soul.

They took their piece! The price of fame that no

one can repay, but they didn’t buy me when they

bought my name and that is why I pray…”

Serena’s face lit up, her feet rooted to the

ground, as she found she no longer had the

need to move around.

All she needed was her voice and she had the

entire audience transfixed.

” When you see someone’s hurt and in need of a

hand, don’t forget me, ” her voice belted through

the theater. ” Please say that you won’t; I pray

that you don’t forget me… “

Kimberly’s eyes began to water, Serena’s plea

finding it’s way into her heart not only because

of the story but because of how much she

knew Serena believed what she was saying.

She had sung about loving John and she meant

every word. Serena sung about being

remembered, and the devotion was the same.

” When you look to the heavens with someone you

love, and a light’s shining bright from afar, ” she

sang out, tears beginning to stream down her

porcelain cheeks. ” Hope you see my face there,

and then offer a prayer. And please let me be.

“Let me be that star!”

When the curtains went down, no one applauded

louder than Kimberly.


Thanks to Deborah Benson for sharing this story with us.

Dear readers do drop your comments and encourage the writer. 

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4 thoughts on “Could This Be Love? (18)

  1. God!!!!!!!!!!!!! you gave me a teary eye. this piece is breathtaking
    I can’t get over it, this Is my first time of ever commenting on any one’s work
    I love u so much, great work

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