A Story Written By Queenliz…
I can also hear a slight undertone of

excitement in Stephanie’s voice, and that helped to confirm my earlier imagination of her facial expression as I attempt to

comprehend the turnaround of what I’d thought Mary had said to her. “She says that you’re completely

worthy of my trust, and that I shouldn’t hold back anymore, with you. Nick, Is that what truly happened?”
“Uh. . .well. . .” I say stupidly, still trying to switch tracks, “yeah. Yes, it is. I’m so sorry you can’t trust her after all. I’d truly hoped that you and she could be friends again.”
Stephanie laughs lightly on the other end of the phone, and while I enjoy the sound of it, a pit

starts to form in my stomach, as a few thoughts seem to clink into place.
“You were testing me,” I accuse, knowing already that it’s true, and feeling my anger rise, because of it. Here I am, refusing to manipulate others,

despite how easy it is for me to do so with my switches, and yet she turns around and does it to me.
“Please don’t be mad at me,” she pleads, and I feel her happy switch drop a little at my anger. “I needed to know that I can trust you, and now I

do.”
“And if we’re together five years from now, will you test me again?” I shoot back at her. “Trust needs to be earned, not tested. I trusted you, despite the fact that you never want to be official with me.” I know I’m being unfair to her. I have been sleeping around, and she really doesn’t

deserve my anger, but I hate being manipulated.
The irony of the situation isn’t lost to me. And the stress of the ßokoharms, my children with Vage, and even the other female aliens, all seem to come to a head right now. “With all of this lack of trust,

how do I know I can trust you?” The words are out of my mouth, and I know for sure, the mistake they are in saying it immediately, but it’s too late to take them back.
That one thought, that single word, [size=20pt]’manipulated,'[/size] crosses my mind, and I have to start laughing.
All of my efforts to refrain from doing it to other people, and here it’s happening to me. I suppose this is Karma’s way of

payback for what I’d done to Tina, Nancy,

and Prof Jane, and I can’t help but laugh

at the irony of it all.
Still laughing, I hang up the phone. For a second, I debate on walking to Stephanie, or walking away.
Making up my mind, I start moving, ignoring my phone as it starts to vibrate.
Stephanie sees me coming, and I can see that she’s been crying. It’s still a bit of a shock to see her with her hair dyed red, and I wonder if she’s going to go back to her natural color, or not. I feel bad for causing those tears, but know I’m going

to be causing some more shortly.
Stephanie throws her arms around me as I get close, and starts to sob against my shoulder.
“I’m so sorry, Nick. I didn’t think you would be upset. It was stupid of me and I shouldn’t have done it. Please, forgive me!” she pleads, and my

stomach sinks, but I have to follow through.
Placing my hands on her shoulders, I gently

push her away.
“No, Stephanie,” I tell her softly, “you did the right thing.” She looks up at me with hope in her eyes, and I hate myself for what I’m about to do.
Maybe the ßokoharms will kill me, I think, and then I’ll be doing her a favor. “I haven’t been faithful to you.” I see the hurt start in her eyes, but I continue, knowing that I must. “You didn’t want us to be official, so we weren’t.”
“But. . .but I love you,” Stephanie pleads with me, a split second before I feel her slap on my face. I know I deserve it, but it still stings.
“There’s more,” I say, deciding to come

completely clean with her.
“No, I don’t want to hear it,” she tells me through a fresh set of tears. She tries to turn and run away from me, but I’m not going to let her. I don’t know why, but something in me wants her to understand. Stephanie is the one person that I can completely be my geeky self with; the one person that I don’t need to hide my love of anime and

sci-fi from, and can actually play a decent video game against. Okay, so to be frank, she’s probably better than me at games, but that only makes what I feel I need to do, all the worse.
“Stephanie please,” I say softly, and those two soft word seems to stop her from walking away.
“Who—who is it?” she says, sniffling.
“Can we go somewhere private? I promise to tell you everything.” She looks at me accusingly, and

I remember Mary asking me that same question not that long ago.
Silently she turns and starts walking. I hurry to walk next to her, trying to match her fast pace. I remain quiet as we walk, not sure what to tell Stephanie quite yet, but am trying to organize everything before we get to the nearest secluded place we find.

To Be Continued…

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