A Young Desert Rose, Chapter 17

  • Posted on January 14, 2022 at 3:54 pm

Note from JetBoy: It’s been a long, wild ride, but we are thrilled to pieces to finally offer you the conclusion of Sunnybunny’s marvelous lesbian novel. If you have yet to sample this sexy saga, please check out Chapter One and go from there. If you have been following the story, it would be a good idea to peruse the last couple of chapters, or check out a thumbnail summary of the whole thing in Chapter Links.

Thanks for sharing with us, SunnyBunny. Consider yourself a true Friend of the Site.

By Sunnybunny

Staring hopelessly at Richard’s gun, Heather began to trudge toward the door of the motel room. God damn it, she thought, lost in despair. If we’d just hit the road an hour earlier. One fucking hour. 

“Hold on,” Richard said, halting her in mid-step, still firmly grasping Angie’s arm. He frowned at the corpse of Travis, then looked up at Heather, a playful smile on his lips. “It wouldn’t be very polite of us to leave a mess behind when we go, now would it?” He glanced over at his hired goon, the one named Curtis. “Go and get the plastic wrap out of the trunk, then…” he gestured at Travis with the barrel of his gun, “…take that trash out.”

Looking down at the body, his upper lip curled in distaste, Curtis slowly nodded. “Sure, boss.” He exited the room.

Turning back to Heather, still smiling, Richard said, “And that is why the police have never been able to lay a finger on me. Rule Numero Uno: don’t leave evidence behind.” He nudged Travis with the tip of his loafer. “When I saw this specimen at the door, I thought you’d lowered your standards in a big way when it came to men… but there’s no way on earth you’d give it up for this.” He poked the body again, harder this time. “So I guess he must’ve been here for protection, eh? Too bad, too sad.”

Curtis came back into the room, a large piece of plastic sheeting draped over his shoulder.

Ignoring the girls, the burly man spread the sheet on the floor next to Travis, then snapped his fingers at his silent partner, who shambled over to assist. Together they slid the corpse onto the plastic, then began to roll it up – clearly, a job these men had tackled before.

What in God’s name are they going to do with him? she wondered.

As if reading her mind, Richard responded. “My car has an extra-big trunk,” he said, nodding approvingly as he watched his men work. “Plenty of cargo space, that’s right.” He looked up again, his eyes meeting Heather’s. “But there’s more than enough space left for you and your new friend, have no fear.” His smile had turned cold and ugly.

By then the silent thug was holding a wrapped-up Travis in a standing position. Curtis had produced a roll of clear packing tape from somewhere and was winding it around the body over and over, the thick tape making loud ripping sounds with every tug.

Once he was satisfied with the result, Curtis quickly moved over to the outside door and opened it, peering into the night. He looked left and right, then returned to the mummy-like package, taking one end. His partner took the other, and they carried what was left of Travis out of the motel room, Richard saluting as it passed by.

“Hasta la bye-bye,” he waved with his pinky finger, then turned back to the girls. “Next on the agenda – we pay a little visit to this diner.” Gently taking a fistful of Angie’s hair, he slowly twisted it until the young girl whimpered in protest. “I really hope that you aren’t fibbing to me.” He suddenly released her, nearly causing Angie to lose her balance. “I’ve had it up to here with women who don’t behave themselves.” His gaze drifted back to Heather who, once again, fought the impulse to look away.

A few minutes later, Travis’ body concealed in Richard’s car trunk, Angie and Heather left the motel room, leading their captors to the diner. They were marched over like prisoners sent to face a firing squad. Single file, Angie leading the way, Heather close behind, Richard and his henchmen bringing up the rear.

Heather prayed the whole way that someone would see them and realize what was happening. Perhaps Walter would wander out of his office at the end of an unusually long evening at work and glimpse them as he locked up for the night. Even better, the sheriff himself might cruise by in his old patrol car, sidle up beside the caravan and inquire what business they had in the diner at such an ungodly hour. At this point, she would have taken one of the catcalling ranch hands with their pinching fingers that left her ass feeling like a pincushion at the end of her shift. Anything or anyone who might save them from what was shaping up to be a hideous fate for her and Angie both. How would Richard and his goons react when they found nothing in the diner but a few dusty countertops and an old jukebox?

Heather slid into one of the empty seats, tugging Angie along after her, only to have the child abruptly yanked out of her grasp. Richard’s smile was sinister as he forced the girl into the seat beside him, boxing her in against the dividing wall. His gun was trained against her temple, sometimes pressing hard enough to leave a little imprint against Angie’s cheek.

Heather wadded up her hands into tight fists along the tabletop, livid with fury at how powerless she felt, then tucked them into the pockets of her coat, where they could tremble without Richard noticing.

“Now, sugar,” Richard drawled, locking eyes with Heather while he addressed the little girl. “Where exactly did you hide that cash? Hmm?”

It took Angie a moment to find her voice. Her eyes were as wide as saucers, looking positively enormous in the gloom of the diner. “I – I don’t know. We g-gave it to our friend to hide. Someone we c-could trust. She, um, owns this place. She promised to, to keep it safe for us, B-but then she died!” The child stared at Richard, her lower lip trembling.

The crease that took shape in Richard’s brow made it clear that he wasn’t buying Angie’s story.

“It’s true,” Heather insisted. “We left it with the owner while we planned our escape. But she suddenly died, just a few nights ago. It caught everyone by surprise. We had to lay low until we could come back and look for it–”

Richard cut her off, slamming the gun against the table like a judge with his gavel, calling for order. “All right, all right! I get the bloody picture!” He half turned in his seat, the worn leather squeaking with his shifting weight. “Boys, tear this place apart until you find it.”

“Boss, we can’t see shit,” one of the goons protested. “How are we supposed to find anything without turning the lights on?”

“Jesus H. Christ,” Richard muttered, then glared in the direction of his men. “There’s a toolbox in the trunk of the car, remember? In that toolbox, there happens to be a flashlight. Now one of you, hustle back to the car and get it!” He watched, a sour twist to his mouth as the smaller of the two men hastened out the door, then turned back to face Heather, touching the barrel of the gun to his forehead as he offered his two captives a sardonic smile. It’s hard to find good help these days, his expression seemed to say.

Sufficiently cowed and a touch humiliated, the remaining henchman stood with his hands in his pockets, looking as if he’d rather have been the one to go to the car.

Sighing, Richard turned back to Heather in the seat and, noticing her venomous gaze, shifted back into his shit-eating grin. While she watched, he slithered a hand down the neck of Angie’s top, hugging her close to his side like an old chum. With his arm thrown casually around her shoulders, he shamelessly groped the girl’s flat chest.

Gasping in astonishment and outrage, Angie tried to twist away, sliding partway down in the seat in her attempt to avoid the man’s touch. “Nuh-uh!” he fired back, cinching his arm tighter around the girl’s neck, drawing her back up to sit alongside him without removing his hand from her shirt. “Let’s have none of that now. After all, I’m just being friendly, see? Just a bunch of regular folks hanging out, getting to know one another.” He snickered.

Angie whimpered in reply, shivering in his grasp, her face scrunched up so tightly that Heather feared she might break down in hysteria. She longed to reach across that expanse and take the child’s hand, to give her fingers a squeeze. Let her know that everything was okay. It’s not, though. It’s anything but okay.

This is all my fault, Heather told herself. None of this would’ve happened if I’d never stopped here. Never chose a twelve-year-old girl to be my lover, never agreed to the utter insanity of running away with her. She would have given anything in that moment to take it all back, the good as well as the bad. She would happily surrender those joyous feelings Angie had stirred within her soul, the wonderful laughter and the forbidden, amazing sex – all of it – to banish that look of helpless terror from the girl’s face.

Then and there, Heather vowed that she would get them out of this mess or die trying. She had no idea how or when, but she was at least going to give it her best shot, even if it meant staring down that gun when Richard pulled the trigger…

The door tinkled as the departed thug came back into the cafe, triumphantly brandishing the flashlight. He switched it on, and Richard quickly hissed, “Keep that away from the windows, damn it!”

Pointing the bright yellow beam at the floor, the hood and his cohort made their way into the kitchen to begin their search for the hidden stash of money. They were hardly discreet, and soon a great clangor of noise was heard, one that only grew louder as their efforts intensified.

“Hey,” Richard suddenly said, glancing from Angie to Heather, “you know what I think would do us some good? A story. Yeah! A nice icebreaker to, to alleviate all this tension.” He gave Angie a rough shake that sent her throttling back and forth in his grip. “Would you like that, sweetie pie?” He did not wait for a reply. “That’s the ticket – a nice little fairy tale to calm everyone’s nerves. Okay, now.” He settled back, then began. “Once upon a time, there was a poor peasant girl. And she married a charming crown prince, heir to a vast and wealthy empire.”

Shit. Heather’s bowels turned to water, sensing where he was going with this little stunt of his and hating him all the more for it.

“The two met at a ball in the land of Universe City, and boy, was she blown away by his charms. They danced all night long, until all the stars had vanished from the sky…” His voice took a wispy, almost melancholy air. The bastard even reclined his head back and sighed theatrically, gesturing with his gun hand as he basked in the memory.

“Now, they did not fuck that night.” He made sure to lean hard into Angie’s ear for the word ‘fuck’, the tip of his tongue tickling at her lobe. “You see, our princess was a chaste bitch, who made her poor prince wait and wait and wait before she opened her legs to him.”

A crash erupted from the front of the store, making Angie and Heather jump in their seats. One of the goons had taken the butt of his flashlight to the ancient cash register and forced it open. Richard went on as if he hadn’t heard. “But when she did… whoa, boy!” His voice grew louder. “It was as if the floodgates opened up. After that, they were fucking all the time.” He lewdly thrust his hips up into the table, making the whole booth shape with his ferocity. “Like a couple of damn rabbits. Like it was going out of style. You get the picture?

“Anyway, eventually the prince and the peasant girl agreed to marry. His family was against it, of course. Princes are meant to marry princesses. Not poor gutter trash drowning in student loans…” He paused, corrected himself. “Er, I mean poor gutter trash who was at risk of turning into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight. Yet he was persistent. He liked the way she fucked, you see. He liked the way she begged to be fucked harder.” He went on to imitate her sighs, resuming his gyrations until he cracked up with laughter that nobody shared.

Heather looked away, unable to bear the weight of Angie’s gaze as he described their intimate past together. She felt hideous, humiliated, made worse after spending such loving and comforting times with this girl she loved so. How had she ever been able to surrender herself to this man? To any man?

When at last she summoned up the courage to seek out Angie’s face, offering apologies with her eyes, she found a haunted look wrought over the child’s face. No doubt, the display was causing her to relive the trauma she’d known at the hands of her father.

Richard spoke on. “They moved into a palace together. Soon after, the prince gets involved in bigger and better business opportunities. More wealth than either of them could imagine. She objects, of course. These things are on the, er, grayer side of the law, shall we say? Skirting around the edges of legality, sure… but with all the cash it brings, she doesn’t protest too loudly.” The son of a bitch winked at her then. Her hands ached with the need to snatch the gun from him, to demand he get his filthy hands off her beloved.

“Anyhow, our prince is on top of the world, with all the money, drugs and pussy a man could possibly ask for!” His mouth tightened. “Then one day, the poor, innocent young prince comes home to find that he has been wronged. A great sum of cash is missing from his castle, as well as the pussy he liked to fuck most.” Heather openly scoffed at that, but Richard took no notice. “He was heartbroken, our unfortunate prince. Heartbroken and worried of what had befallen his peasant girl-made-princess, who seemed to have completely forgotten the many, many good things he’d given her. He’d even let it slide that she’d refused to open her legs for him of late. That was fine. He was a patient prince and there were… others, more willing to receive him. Before you think too ill of the prince, know that he never betrayed the peasant girl in his heart. Sure, he enjoyed a little pussy on the side, since hers seemed to be locked up tighter than Fort Fucking Knox, but she was still his wife. That meant something to him, damn it. She… belonged to him. He never forgot that fact. Even if she did.” His mouth tightened.

Damn him, Heather thought. God damn his sick, twisted soul to hell.

Richard looked down at Angie. “We all make mistakes, yeah? Sometimes we get so deep into our own bullshit, we make boneheaded decisions. I’m including myself in that equation, too. Don’t think I’m not. I should have known her unhappiness would lead to some sort of… rash behavior. But I let it go on without taking her in hand, getting her mind right. That’s on me. But…”

He trailed off, letting his gaze drift to Heather. For a moment, his smile took a turn. It was shy, almost innocent, and playful. The smile she’d fallen in love with so many years ago. Usually, it showed itself after a bad ‘dad joke’. She used to find it so charming. Its appearance now was intended to be disarming, to perhaps remind her of what she had left behind, that could still be. Once upon a time, it might have made her swoon, a touch weak in the knees, and earn him a kiss or two.

Now, it made her want to vomit.

“Hey, boss.”

They collectively glanced over at the one he had called Curtis earlier. He stood behind the counter, frustrated and out of breath. “We ain’t findin’ shit here.”

“What do you mean?” Richard shot the pair of girls a warning look before addressing Curtis again. “You couldn’t have checked everywhere.”

Curtis shrugged his broad shoulders. “Only so many places it could be, boss. The kitchen an’ back offices are clean. Just the couple hundred in the register, that’s all we got.” He produced a wad of bills, hastily wrapped up with a rubber band, as evidence to his claim.

Richard sucked on his teeth, thinking quietly to himself before coming to some internal conclusion. “Look one more time. Just to make sure, but…” He paused for dramatic effect, shifting his weight to lean heavily into Angie. She shrank away in response, squeezing herself into the corner of the booth, but Richard fixed the girl with an icy glare. “This is a clear failure to communicate,” he hissed. “A classic case, in fact.” He seized Angie’s chin, forcing her face upward until their eyes met. The gun’s barrel pressed against the twelve-year-old’s throat, making her whimper. “You know what happens to liars… don’t you, cunt?”

Richard was staring at Angie’s face, as if it held the secret he wanted. In a way, it did, as the girl wasn’t looking at him – but past him. Over his shoulder. Following her gaze, he and Heather saw what Angie was seeing.

The old jukebox stood in the corner, shining with benign light. All its track selection buttons were aglow, shining so brightly in the darkness that they could make out individual numbers and names for each artist. She spied Buddy Holly, Fats Domino and The Platters before she was drawn back to Richard and the girl in his clutches. Had it been left on this whole time? She certainly hadn’t noticed when they’d entered the diner, but she was distracted at the time. Now, it seemed impossible to miss, a lighthouse in the middle of a hurricane.

Richard looked from Angie to the old juke and back again, until something occurred to him that had his face glowing almost as brightly. “You sneaky little fox!” he exclaimed, then leaned forward and planted a loud, wet kiss against the girl’s cheek. He practically vaulted out of the booth, leaving a disgusted Angie scrubbing her face with both hands.

Richard stalked over to the jukebox with long, bird-like strides. Cocking an elbow against its radiant face, he hammered it with the butt of his gun, rattling the Plexiglas that housed the much-worn 45’s. Without waiting for a response, he pursed his lips together and whistled. The piercing sound immediately drew Richard’s men in, the trio huddling around the jukebox as if it was a safe in need of cracking.

“You think it’s in here, boss?” Curtis asked, sounding uncertain.

“Hiding in plain sight,” Richard answered with a barking laugh. He backed away. “C’mon, get to work busting this open. You can keep any loose dimes you come across.”

Wondering what would happen to them once Richard saw through Angie’s ruse, Heather looked across the table for Angie, startled to realize that the girl was no longer in her seat.

“Angie…?”

A shot rang out. The front of the jukebox exploded with a shower of sparks, wood paneling, and metal pieces scattering into the air like confetti.

As one, the trio of men slowly turned around. The quiet that followed was unsettling, punctuated only by the ringing in their collective ears from the loud report the gun had made in such a confined space.

There, in the middle of the aisle between the rows of booths, stood Angie. Her feet were wide apart, the gun held aloft in a firm two-handed grip. Her shot had just missed, passing between the cluster of heads and into the front of the old Rock-Ola. She didn’t wait for a response, squeezing off another round that had the three men scrambling to flatten themselves on the tile floor, hands clasped protectively over their skulls.

“Fuck!” the second thug gasped, and Heather realized that she’d not heard him speak until then.

The gun looked positively huge in Angie’s small grip. The force of the shot had sent her staggering backward, the weapon nearly flying out of her hands. She held on, though, her eyes blazing with fury as she faced down the bad guys.

Will anyone call the police if they hear shots coming from the diner? Heather strained her ears for the sound of sirens, but the second blast had deafened her, at least temporarily. Cautiously rising from her seat, she moved to join Angie, suddenly recognizing the gun. It had belonged to the girl’s father, the same one he’d dropped in his death throes. Somewhere in the confusion,  Angie had had the presence of mind to snatch it up and conceal it somewhere in her clothes.

The jukebox groaned, then the sound of a needle skidding across a record erupted from the speakers. The lights flickered once, twice and then died, stealing all sound with it.

“Angie,” Heather breathed. The girl continued to stare ahead, trembling fiercely. Tears streamed down her cheeks, clouding her eyes until it looked like they were melting out of their sockets. Gingerly wrapping a hand around Angie’s outstretched fists, Heather slowly, ever so slowly took the gun from her grasp. “You did good, sweetie. You saved us.”

Richard chuckled humorlessly in the darkness.

Heather trained the gun on their prone forms, coaxing Angie behind her. “We are leaving, Richard. This is done.”

“Like hell it is!”

She fired another shot. The round ricocheted off the linoleum. In the flash of light from the nuzzle, she caught a glimpse of the men cowering tightly together, hands still atop their heads. She spied Richard’s handgun; the one Curtis had handed over earlier, abandoned atop the ruined jukebox. The long silencer was unmistakable.

“On your feet. Slowly. SLOWLY!” She enunciated the word for clarity.

Hands raised, the trio gathered themselves up from the floor. Heather routed them into the kitchen area, marching single file through the swinging door. Richard grumbled the whole time, no doubt infuriated by the unfamiliar circumstance of being at someone else’s mercy. At Heather’s direction, the men seated themselves in a row along the wall, their backs to the ancient oven that dominated a whole corner of Maven’s kitchen.

“Ain’t this cozy,” Richard mocked. He crossed his legs out wide and relaxed back on his palms. He stared daggers beyond the gun leveled at his head, looking into Heather’s eyes. “Don’t you dare think this is the end, you fucking bitch. I’m going to get my money back one way or the–”

Heather cut him off. “Angie,” she said, “Go get the bag.”

At her arm, the girl hesitated. “Are you sure?”

Heather nodded wordlessly, this simple gesture enough to let Angie know there would be no arguing. Her mind was made up, resolved that if this ended the insanity, it would be well worth it.

A lifetime seemed to pass between the sounds of the front door chiming open and closed. The gun weighed heavily in her sweaty hands. Heather was on pins and needles, wondering how many guns they might have on them, strapped to their ankles or tucked into the band of their pants. Her frayed emotions threatened to carry her right over the edge, until every shift of shadow seemed to be one of the men going for an unseen weapon.

“Heather…?” Angie was at her side again. She hadn’t heard the child reenter.

Startled to within an inch of her life, Heather erupted with a strangled cry, squeezing the trigger. The bullet went wide, burying itself into the guts of the old oven with such force that the wide door on the front spilled open.

The unnamed thug bellowed, “Fuck, lady! Watch where you’re pointing that thing!”

She was quick to recover, training the gun back on her target. “One wrong move, and it’ll be your fucking head.” She tried to play it off as if the shot had been intentional. Whether it worked or not, she had no idea, but that hardly mattered. “Angie, put the bag down.”

The girl did as instructed.

“This what you’re after?” Heather booted the satchel across the space between them. She’d intended for it to settle squarely between Richard’s splayed legs. He certainly would have appreciated the symbolism of the gesture. The heavy bag only made it halfway, however, before upending and popping open. Fat wads of cash spilled onto the tile, some of the rubber bands snapping loose. “There. Take it. This is done. Over. Do you hear me, Richard? Over!”

“Oh, I wouldn’t count on that.” He didn’t miss a beat. “You can’t believe this was about money. Only about money, anyway. You’re smarter than that, princess. No one leaves me, not unless I want them gone. No one!” Richard’s hands were opening and closing, his body taut with anger. “Go ahead and run again; you’ll never escape me. I’m going to keep after you, chase you to the ends of the earth. I’ll use every connection I have, spare no expense… Oh, it might take a lifetime. But sooner or later…” He let the rest go unsaid. Shaping his hand into a gun, he extended the thumb and forefinger, firing off an invisible shot aimed at her forehead.

Heather had desperately hoped that the money would be enough to buy their lives. I should have known better. There isn’t enough money in the world to make things right with Richard, not when his pride takes a hit. He’d been bested, even humiliated in front of his own men, and that set a price that could only be repaid in blood. Hers, certainly – now Angie’s as well.

She understood now that they would never know a moment’s rest, not while Richard Valentine walked the earth. She and Angie could run, they could hide, but there was no peace to be had. She would always be looking over her shoulder, wondering if this would be the day that someone put a bullet in her back.

Heather was snapped out of her brooding by the sound of the flint wheel of a lighter struggling to ignite. She quickly turned to Angie, who held a cigarette between her lips, trying and failing to light it.

Catching Heather’s glance, the girl sighed, “I know, I know. I’ll quit tomorrow. Right now, I need this.”

But that wasn’t what had Heather so concerned. Thinking quickly, she cupped a hand over Angie’s, taking the lighter away. “Go wait by the car.” The child started to protest, but Heather shot her a warning look. “Please. I’ll be out there soon. Just go. Now.”

“Fine!” With an angry huff, Angie threw down her unlit cigarette and stalked off.

Heather waited, counting slowly in her head until enough time had passed for her young lover to have reached the end of the block. But would she stay there? What concerned her now was Angie’s natural stubbornness. Please, PLEASE make her do what I say, just this once!

“We’re going now,” she announced, laying a hand on the swinging door.

“Oh, we’ll give you a head start. Right, fellas? A nice slow count of One Hundred Elephants before we come chasing after.” He puckered his lips together, making loud kissy noises at her.

That’s good, she thought. Keep it up, asshole. The more he taunted her and made a fool out of himself, the less chance that he would notice the smell of gas creeping into the room from the busted pipe in the oven.

The door swung closed and, good to his word, Richard began to loudly count out the time. “One elephant! Two elephants! Three elephants! Four, count ‘em FOUR elephants! Five! That is FIVE elephants!” He could hardly contain himself, comfortable in the knowledge that his victory had merely been postponed.

Whispering an apology to Mama Maven for what she was about to do, Heather flicked the lighter, then held the butane flame to one of the tacky old curtains fixed into the windows. They caught immediately. By the time Heather rushed out of the diner, the flames were licking at the ceiling fixtures, bringing the row of windows facing the road to life with a light that seemed to pulse like a great artery.

The heart of Oasis, she thought, running as hard and fast as she was able.

The blast that followed nearly bowled her over, lighting up the night for an instant. Seconds later, debris from the cafe began to rain down; luckily, Heather had managed to get past the worst of it. Batting a scorched menu away from her face, she stumbled toward her car, mouthing a prayer of thanks when she spied a frantic Angie standing next to it. They flew into each other’s arms.

***

The explosion of Mama Maven’s diner did more than destroy the building. The flames quickly spread to other businesses in the neighborhood, many of them already vacant. Soon, the whole block was ablaze. Some buildings escaped the holocaust, but had their roofs damaged by the falling debris. The force of the blast also shattered dozens of windows, enough that a couple of glaziers were brought over from a neighboring town to assist in replacing them. One local World War II veteran was sent into cardiac arrest and died before first responders could reach him.

By the time the last of the blaze was extinguished, and full stock of the aftermath could be taken, most of downtown Oasis had vanished. What replaced it was twisted, ugly spires of charred wreckage. Even the library, so famous for weathering such calamities in the past, had burned to its foundation. It seemed that the cancer that had slowly eaten away at this town had finally come to surface and claimed what remained. What wasn’t taken by the economy, disrepair and the harsh conditions of the desert had been collected at last.

Amongst the wreckage was a pair of early rescues, young women wrapped up in a Mylar blanket together, coated in a layer of soot so thick they were nearly lost in the gloom. The aftermath was so chaotic that the emergency teams failed to notice them sharing a passionate kiss, the two of them overjoyed to be alive and safe.

The investigation was brief, yet as thorough as could be expected with such limited resources. Much of the evidence was either destroyed in the explosion or lost in the ensuing fire that raged for hours afterward. All the authorities could establish with any certainty was that the blaze had originated at the diner, spreading after a gas leak triggered an explosion, and three horribly charred bodies were found amid the wreckage. It was quickly established that these men weren’t locals, and that two of them had been carrying guns.

These three strangers were quickly linked to an unfamiliar luxury sedan, parked just down the road. It had been scorched in the fire, but was still intact. Upon searching the vehicle, the body of local garage owner Travis Lawrence was found in the car trunk. He’d been killed by a single gunshot, then his corpse wrapped in thick plastic. The bullet was traced to one of the guns that had been recovered from the cafe explosion.

Only one of these mysterious men could be identified from the charred remains – an ex-con named Curtis Grotowski, pinpointed by prison dental records from his three-year stretch in Nebraska for armed assault. The sedan’s out-of-state license plates were run through the system, but that proved to be a dead-end when it was discovered that the car had been registered under a false identity.

In the end, no one could produce a satisfying explanation for the disaster. Some suspected that the three men in the diner had intended to rob the place… but how did Travis Lawrence fit into the scenario? Had he been in cahoots with these strangers, then double-crossed? Or had he tried to interfere with their scheme and gotten killed for it? The answer remained tantalizingly out of reach, a bottomless source of speculation and gossip for the locals.

One of the businesses to escape the worst of the fire’s wrath was Walter’s motel. He sustained damage to the side facing the road that he shared with the diner. One wing had been burned to the ground, but the rest was no worse for wear, and he was able to reopen within a couple of days.

Heather and her things were moved to another room, where she awaited each day with apprehension and dread, expecting the sheriff to come calling with a warrant for her arrest. When she finally did hear a knock at the door, she nearly jumped out of her skin. But instead of a lawman bearing handcuffs, her visitor was none other than Mama Maven’s attorney Calvin Wynn.

After she’d ushered him inside and pleasantries were exchanged, Calvin informed her that the insurance adjusters were wrapping up their investigation of the explosion, and as the new owner of the cafe, she stood to inherit a generous amount of money from its loss of the cafe.

When Heather learned of the amount, she nearly keeled over. Not quite the half million she’d taken from Richard, but it was enough for her to start over. A clean slate, at long last.

She didn’t get to see very much of Angie much after the fire. The police were busy trying to locate her next of kin, with no success. In the meantime, she was staying with the sheriff and his wife, which meant that she spent her days loitering around the police station with very little to do beyond sulk the days away.

Before long, Angie had taken to spending her time sitting at the sheriff’s mammoth desk, drawing on the back sides of old faxed documents. She only had a handful of broken crayons to use, but made do with them. Heather dropped in from time to time to visit, but the effort of keeping their feelings hidden made this time together less enjoyable than it should have been. Just glancing into Angie’s eyes filled Heather with a desire so acute, it made her stomach hurt.

At least the sheriff was always happy to see someone paying attention to Angie. “That poor girl’s been through a lot,” he told Heather. “Hell of a thing, losin’ her daddy that way.” In fact, Angie couldn’t have been happier to be rid of Travis, who had done more than anyone to make her childhood a misery. She was careful to pretend to mourn his demise – at least, when there were witnesses at hand.

One morning, the sheriff’s wife went to rouse young Angie for breakfast, only to find her bed empty. It had not even been slept in. Shortly thereafter, it was discovered that Heather had vanished as well.

Fearing the worst, a state-wide manhunt was organized, complete with missing person notices and an Amber alert. A cash award was posted for any information leading to the pair’s whereabouts, a reward that would ultimately go unclaimed.

Weeks would turn into months, with no sign of Heather or Angie. The town of Oasis would carry on, of course. The locals would eventually spin their own sordid tales of what had become of the two girls, concocting wild stories that blamed everything from drug cartels to Satanic cults to space aliens.

More than a year later, a true crime TV show known for revisiting cold case files brought on a witness who had not come forward before, a motel owner who claimed to have rented a room to a woman with a young girl who closely resembled Angie Lawrence and Heather Freemantle. “There was somethin’ about them that made me wonder, though,” he said. “She said the girl was her daughter, but I could tell that she wasn’t. So I took a few pictures of them through the window.”

The TV screen shifted to a few grainy images of a woman and a preteen girl taking suitcases from a car.  They were both wearing baseball caps and sunglasses. The photos were taken from too far away for a positive identification to be made, the narrator’s voice explained.

The show continued with the interviewer asking the motel owner about the couple’s demeanor – did they seem to be under duress or agitated? The man could only shrug. “Not so’s I could tell,” he said.

The last picture was taken the next morning; it showed the mysterious woman in her car, pulling out of the lot with the girl at her side, both of them still wearing shades and caps. The photo shows what appears to be the woman reaching over to adjust the gearshift. The investigators had no idea that, if glimpsed from a certain angle, the woman was actually placing her right hand between the girl’s legs.

***

Nearly five months after the explosion in Oasis, a small west coast town saw the arrival of two new residents. Their names were Samantha and Danielle Worthington, a recently divorced mother looking to start over in a new location with her daughter. They could be rather quiet and private, but most of their neighbors took to them fairly quickly. Within a few weeks, the Worthingtons were part of the community.

It hadn’t taken long for Heather to find her contact, the forger who had offered her a new identity for the right price. He was taken aback to learn that he’d need to manifest a second set of documents, these intended for a child. The man asked no questions, but it took several weeks longer than expected before Heather and Angie were able to reemerge with their new names. The process had taken a considerable bite out of their bankroll, but enough remained for Heather to rent a small home in a quiet neighborhood.

Heather, now Samantha, took a job doing secretarial work at a law office. Her daughter Dani, formerly known as Angie, would attend school in the following semester, showing certain proclivities towards art and theater. She was, in the opinion of her teachers, a natural.

The two of them pitched in together to do up the second bedroom for appearance’s sake, decorating the space to reflect the typical interests of young girls. There were boy band posters and fairy lights on the walls, glow-in-the-dark stars and planets along the ceiling and stuffed animals on the bed. Everything was done up in pastels, right down to the sheets on the twin-sized mattress. The bed was seldom used, though, since Angie nearly always slept with Heather. As for the room, she mostly used it to study or hang out with her friends.

To the outside world, ‘Samantha’ and ‘Dani’ seemed anything but unusual – a friendly, attractive single mom and her cute, precocious preteen daughter. But once their doors were closed and the shades drawn, the woman and the girl melted into each other’s arms, their mouths meeting in a heated, hungry kiss.

For the first few weeks in their new home, Heather and Angie were insatiable, making love over and over again. Most of their free time was spent naked. Why bother getting dressed, if they were only going to be taken off again?

Eventually a rhythm began to take shape in the household – a careful balance between Heather raising Angie into womanhood, and their life together as lovers. There were growing pains, naturally. Was it Heather the ‘mother’ telling Angie to do her homework after dinner? Was it Angie the ‘daughter’ who roused Heather from sleep, hungry for sex?

Sometimes Heather gave Angie dance lessons after dinner. Sometimes they didn’t finish dinner at all.

Sex was a crucial component of their nightly routine, after which the two lovers would drift into slumber together, naked and entwined beneath the sheets.

We will withdraw now while Angie and Heather are in bed together, watching a movie in their pajamas, a bowl of popcorn balanced on Heather’s tummy. To linger too long would be impolite… and we’ve been their accomplices long enough.

They deserve to be alone.

The End

***

Afterword

Wow! Just…wow, right? It’s finished, caput, donesville! After so many years in the making, allow me to simply pause for a bit and just taking in the magnitude of this accomplishment. Sure, this is a niche tale for a niche audience but I’ve always been so very passionate about Desert Rose and seeing these wonderful characters to their conclusion. I know this has been a long time coming and to see that so many people here are still reading it and commenting and showing so much love and support for this little tale of mine just fills my heart beyond what words can express. I’m so glad I was able to entertain you all, so from the very bottom and sincerest point of my being, I want to thank you. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for being a constant show of support and inspiration. Without the fine folks at JS, I can say this tale never would have been completed at all.

So background!

The basis for YDR came for my desire to write out a more traditional mystery story, about a young woman fleeing her old life and an abusive relationship and starting over. Her sordid past would clash with the seedier underbelly of a small town until both come to a head during a thrilling climax where she is forced to confront her demons. Sort of a Nicholas Sparks meets Gillian Flynn tale with no erotic themes whatsoever.

With this nugget of an idea gestating in my imagination, over the next few months more details emerged: what the town would look like, some of the locals, details about the past she was escaping, etc. I toyed with the idea of a romantic subplot, playing with more themes of deception therein and being a gay woman, I naturally gravitated towards making her love interest another woman. Perhaps the smalltown diner owner.

As a structure began taking shape and I started toying with the idea of writing this out and seeing how the heroine does in the first few chapters, I stumbled across a particular site that catered to shall we say, unique kinks?

So, I reached out and struck up a great dialogue with Cheryl who embraced not only my story right away but ME as a new author. My biggest regret in writing for JS was I never got to fully tell her how invaluable I found help during those early days of churning out the story. She was insightful and funny, a true guiding light in her editing that only made the story better and better. Cheryl Taggart, if you are out there, you were the best <3

What started out as a thriller gradually became a tale of forbidden romance, and I was far more interested in exploring those themes and complex emotions that would go with it than simply writing out a ‘wanker’. That said, seeing all the feedback wondering about the lack of sex, I did feel somewhat pressured to include more than I had planned. In fact, there was a subplot where, after Angie learns of Heather’s determination to flee Oasis before Richard can find her, she demands they go on a date together. It takes some convincing, naturally but they eventually steal off together and head to where else? VEGAS, BABY! I would then reserve a handful of chapters of the two of them getting into all sorts of fun shenanigans and there was even a cameo appearance planned by Naughty Mommy’s own mischievous seductress, Bambi. Before you get TOO excited, it was nothing more than a small bit that was more intended to be a wink-wink to the audience wherein Heather and Angie glimpse her playing the ‘Lost Girl Game’ in the lobby of the hotel they are staying in. Just before they can go up and inquire about her well-being, another couple intercepts and our girls leave, thinking whoever she was is in capable hands.

Yet, in the end, I chose to excise these passages and for a variety of reasons. Chiefly, it slowed the pace of the story down to a crawl to which it never fully recovers, and it didn’t really feel like they fit in with the rest of the story. The chapters felt indulgent and wholly unnecessary, no matter how many times I wrote and rewrote them, they just never clicked with the rest of the narrative. The story is the boss here and keeping things moving and focused on their shared plight was the honest thing to do. Anything else would have been a betrayal to their journey and a ‘lost weekend’ would have only muddled things needlessly. This decision proved to be such a headache, I set the entire tale aside for a while and wrote out another story in the meantime. A nice spa where women of a particular variety could go and be pampered and indulge their most carnal of desires before returning to the real world as the movers and shakers they publicly were.

One thing that did not shift or change in my mind was the ending. I always intended to give them a happily ever after. They deserved nothing less. I hope you all feel the same way and are satisfied by the conclusion and are looking forward to my next tale of sapphic debauchery. I can promise you it won’t be nearly as long (fingers crossed!)

Thanks from the bottom of my heart to JetBoy for stepping in to fill the role of editor for me. As much as I gushed about Cheryl’s guidance above, his help was equally invaluable, and I appreciate every bit of advice and revision suggestion he could offer.

Personal shout outs to Purple Les, Naughty Mommy, Amanda Lynn, eloquent delinquent and Ebo for crafting a few favorites that I frequently revisit for inspiration (among other things 😉)

And lastly but certainly not least, thank you to all the fine readers of Juicy Secrets for sticking with this story until the end. I know it’s been a long journey to those marvelous words ‘THE END’ and your patience, support and understanding while I overcame personal obstacles to see this through to the end is more precious to me than you will ever know.

 

14 Comments on A Young Desert Rose, Chapter 17

  1. Purple Les says:

    A fanfuckingtastic ending to one of my all time favorite stories. Thank you Sunnybunny. Thank you for finishing this great tale.

    I will reread this whole series at some point soon. I hung on every chapter and am sorry to see our heroines story end, but so thrilled with the happy ending.

    This story had the feel and atmosphere of some the best mystery writers. The characters were all right on and good job with Richard Valentine, I was never so happy to see the bad guy get his. I’m in tears right now from the tension and release of this classic.

  2. Kim & Sue says:

    We saw the notice and got very excited. We’d been following this story a long time and were wondering if we should read this chapter or wait for other ones.

    When we saw it was the last chapter we got comfy and dove in.

    The whole story was great and we loved the end. We urge any readers new to this story to start at the beginning and read it all. Those who like a real good story with great sex thrown in too that is.

  3. David says:

    What a wonderful ending to this story SB! I loved this story from the start and couldn’t wait for the next chapter to show up. It was well written, detailed and edited by you, JetBoy and Cheryl. Thanks for writing it and for the back story. It is always nice to hear how the authors come up with their ideas. Again, thanks for the story and I hope this is not the last we hear from you!

  4. kacey says:

    It’s over? NOOOOO!!! 😭 Having begged for the finishing Chapters, I realise that ALL good things must come to an end; and what an Ending!! Thank YOU, Sunnybunny, for this fabulous tale AND the explanation postscript (Any thanking and praise of Cheryl T is always nice, I think ☺) Am looking forward to your future writings ☺

  5. kinkychic says:

    It seems like I’ve been reading this story/saga forever.

    That dreaded moment when finishing a chapter … how long will I have to wait for the next one? Indeed, will it ever come?

    To say I’ve loved every minute would be an understatement.

    A monument to the skills of erotic writing with all the suspense thrown in.

    Thank you.

  6. kinkys_sis says:

    My sister introduced me to this story some time ago. I was lucky coming late to it. It gave me evenings of pleasure reading all of the early chapters, one after the other.

    Sunnybunny (as with Eloquent Delinquent) taught me the importance of almost painting a picture when describing a scene. Thus allowing the reader to trully see what you, the writer, was conveying to them.

    As Sis said, thank you for entertaining us so well.

  7. Erocritique says:

    .
    Many times over the years I felt I would just have to imagine how things turned out for Heather and Angie. And ultinately, I still have to imagine how things turned out for Heather and Angie. I’m choosing to imagine a very long, happy, pleasure filled future for our two heroines. Would I complain if a sequel ever appeared??? Say, “A Desert Rose In Full Bloom”??? No. I would not complain. As things stand, I am more than satisfied with the thrilling ending. EVERYBODY got what they deserved. Thank You Sunnybunny!!!!! I look forward to more of your fine work in the future. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    • Sunnybunny says:

      Never say never and I would be lying if the thought of a sequel never crossed my mind and I actually really like that title suggestion buuuuuut I think the story ended on a well enough note without the need for a follow-up. Thank you for the kind words <3

  8. obsessive imaginings says:

    Thank you Sunnybunny. I had been reading this story from the beginning and I stopped around chapter 13 pledging to myself to catch up later. When I discovered earlier tonight that the last chapter had dropped I immediately started with chapter 14 and read all the way through to this one. The story was everything I hoped. Sweet romance and a happy ending. Don’t worry about keeping the sex minimalist. Thats part of what I liked. That being said… Why would she leave the money bag in the Diner when she was planning to blow it up behind her? The waste! Also why didn’t she hang around the town after the explosion and just simply legally adopt Angie out of the ‘kindness of her heart’. Who would have stopped her?

    • Purple Les says:

      To me it seemed Heather had already planned on giving the money up to save Angie’s life. Heather blowing up the dinner seemed to be an improvised last ditch plan to get rid of Richard. The insurance settlement made up the lost dirty money. And I don’t blame Heather and Angie for wanting to move on. My take on it anyway.

      And yes I liked you letting us know how the story started and how it came to be, Sunnybunny

      • Sunnybunny says:

        PL has the way of it, absolutely! Heather would have gladly traded the money for their lives but Richard made it very clear it wasn’t enough. Nothing ever would be. Heather would have preferred not to harm anyone, but he made that choice impossible. As for why she just didn’t adopt her legally, that would have taken time and she would be worried an eventual connection between herself and Richard would surface, leading to further complications.

  9. Purple Les says:

    Yet, in the end, I chose to excise these passages and for a variety of reasons.

    I for one wish you would add those, not in to the story, it’s perfect as it is. But as like on DVD’s, a sort of outtakes and deleted scenes sort of thing.

    The short scene with ‘Bambi’ would be delightful to see even if there is no sex. Just a thought.

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