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The Panty Thief Chapter 1

Prologue

 

The sinewy naked body slipped from under the covers in catlike grace as the owner was careful not to disturb her sleeping companion. She’d waited until she heard the tiny snores, which were a telltale sign she could make her move.

 

Knowing the exact spot where her prize had landed, she hurried to the place beside the bed where the lacy red thong lay innocently on the floor. She snatched the underwear in one hand and grabbed her jeans, also on the floor, in the other. After stuffing the panties in the pocket of her jeans, she pulled them over her tight body. She didn’t bother to don her own underwear. There wasn’t much time before she risked the woman waking and catching her. Too much was at stake if the beautiful woman awoke to find her not only stealing away in the darkness, but literally stealing her expensive lingerie. She didn’t know the exact cost, but this pair was not her normal run of the mill stolen pair.

 

Already making her move she gathered her T-shirt, socks, and underwear and finished dressing. She shoved her own panties in her other jeans pocket after pulling out her cash and tossing a twenty on the dresser. Pausing before muttering a hushed “shit,” she added another twenty to the lonely bill. She hoped that would be enough. Pushing the rest of the bills back into her pocket, she was ready to make a quick getaway. The bulging pockets might stand out, but she wouldn’t worry about that. People minded their own business in the city.

 

The thief knew she’d never see the woman again. In a city as large as Seattle, the chances were unlikely. Even if she ran into any of the women by chance, they never suspected she was the one who had stolen their panties. Who would sleep with someone and nick their underwear? That would be a fetish to record in the Journal of Modern Psychology. She chuckled to herself. Her one-night stands would never assume that had happened. She’d always played it safe, but the thief wondered when her luck or the one-night stands would run out.

 

Careful to open the high-rise apartment door soundlessly, she breathed a sigh of relief when she was on her way. Pulling her smartphone from the back pocket of her jeans, she used the Uber app to call for a ride and make her way home.

 

As the thief waited for her ride, she vowed that this would be the last time she would do this. She tried to convince herself the theft was more a tradition and not an obsession or addiction. She could stop anytime she wanted. In fact, she could forego another one-night stand too. Stress sometimes increased her activity. Soon her stress would subside and she’d be able to laugh about the indiscretions of her youth.

 

Grinning to herself, she thought of her apartment and her dresser where all the other prizes lay stacked inside. She had a special place in her drawer for her treasure after she washed them. Her fetish did not extend to keeping someone’s unwashed panties in a trophy drawer. That was gross.

 

Chapter One

 

Sabrina thought about the day she’d met Joey Hartford. She should have known Joey was trouble and would lead her right into a life of crime. Okay, maybe what she’d done didn’t constitute a life of crime—hyperbole on her part. And yet, technically, it was a crime. Joey was stealthy; Sabrina had to give her that. Perhaps she’d paid a little too much attention to that slyness, and that had allowed her to act with abnormal confidence. The thrill was dangerous. Addictive. She wouldn’t continue on this path. Especially not now that things had changed between them.

 

The basement of the apartment complex had been more than a little stuffy, but at least the pleasant aroma of dryer sheets and detergent filled the air. The older buildings in Seattle had that musty smell with a hint of unhealthy mold in places the naked eye couldn’t see. That resulted from living in a city that rained most of the time. Glancing around the room she noted the off-white walls with multiple black scuff marks.

 

The building was old and in need of a few repairs. Repainting the walls would be a start if they had any hope of brightening up the place. The complex was all she could afford until she finished school. A barely discernible hum of the dryers lulled her to sleep. The only thing keeping her awake amid the soft whine of the machines was the uncomfortable hardness on her behind and against her back from the industrial plastic chair. Maybe she would bring a reclining lawn chair next time. The loud ding on the dryer would be her alarm.

 

Bent over the washing machine in the old apartment building, Sabrina was pulling out her wet clothes. She stuffed them into the gigantic dryer designed to hold two loads. When she turned around, there Joey was.

 

Joey had carelessly slung a duffel bag over her shoulder. The corner of her mouth lifted, ever so slightly. It wasn’t just her lopsided smile that reminded Sabrina of a cross between a leer and a smirk. Would someone call it a smeer or a lirk? Sabrina was always making up new words. She liked mashing things together. The clincher was Joey’s penetrating eye contact and the languorous movement as they took in every inch of Sabrina’s body. Sabrina couldn’t control the delicious shiver up and down her spine. Joey’s smoky gray eyes made Sabrina want to push her up against the dryer she was leaning against. She was a sucker for bedroom eyes. Forget the come-fuck-me pumps, she preferred women with come-fuck-me eyes.

 

“You’re new,” Joey had stated.

 

Sabrina could barely respond with her one-word question. “What?”

 

“I know every fine ass in this building. I would have recognized yours.”

 

“Huh?” Sabrina was more than a little shocked. She had on her workout sweats. They weren’t at all flattering. Her unruly hair kept falling in her face as she blew hard at the strands. Frustrated, she absently grabbed a fist-full of hair and pulled the fly aways back into confinement. Wrapping the hair tie three times to keep her hair controlled, she blinked.

 

Joey shrugged. “You have a nice ass. I got a good view while you were bent over.”

 

“That is about the rudest, most misogynist thing I believe I’ve ever heard. I didn’t think women could be misogynist pigs, but you’ve blown that theory out of the water.”

 

“Well, I subscribe to the honesty is the best policy philosophy on life. Women should be more honest. It was a compliment. When you hit fifty and we’re planning to go out for the evening, I’ll be honest if you ask me whether your ass looks big in a nice tight skirt.”

 

Sabrina crossed her arms over her chest and glared. “I don’t wear tight skirts. In fact, Ms. Misorude, I don’t wear skirts at all.”

 

“Misorude?” Joey had looked perplexed, her face pinched in confusion.

 

“Yeah, a cross between a misogynist pig and rude person.”

 

“Hmm, beautiful and clever. Okay, forget the tight dress then. I’ll be honest about your ass in a snug pair of jeans. Better?” Joey dumped her duffel on the ground and pulled her dirty clothes out. Sauntering to an empty washing machine, she tossed the clothes inside. She hadn’t bothered to separate the colors. “I’m Joey,” she called over her shoulder as she glanced at Sabrina.

 

“Sabrina.” Why am I giving this rude woman my name? Because she’s hot. Now who’s the misogynist pig?

 

Startled from her thoughts, Sabrina watched Joey strip, removing her jeans, T-shirt, and socks, flinging them unceremoniously into the large, white, industrial machine with scratch marks on top. Sabrina approved of the eco-friendly detergent she retrieved from her bag.

 

Wide-eyed, Sabrina blinked, but continued to stare. Joey had a sports bra and the sexiest pair of boi shorts on that Sabrina had ever seen. Airbrushed models didn’t rock the look as much as Joey. Her height came from her legs, but she was also long-waisted which meant there was a great deal of toned flesh beneath her bra and above the top of her underwear. Sabrina's mouth went dry.

 

Joey did that smeer thing again and then raised an eyebrow. “Like what you see, Sexy Sabrina? You know that messy hair thing is absolutely working for you. Kinda reminds me of what a person looks like after mind-blowing sex.”

 

“You can't just strip in the community laundry room. What if somebody else comes down here?”

 

“So? Geez, you'd think I was naked.” Joey filled the coin slots and turned the dial to start the machine. “What I'm wearing covers more than some of those bimbos show on a beach with their butt floss thongs masquerading as bathing suits. I like to make the most of my load of laundry and my precious time. I can think of a dozen things I’d rather be doing than laundry. But, it’s a necessary evil if I don’t want to offend someone with my rank smelling clothes.” Joey slammed the lid and hopped on top of the machine, swinging her legs.

 

The heat rose to Sabrina’s face as she asked the next question. “Um, are those—” she pointed at Joey's boi shorts “—comfortable?”

 

Joey blessed Sabrina with a wide smile, not her lopsided grin that Sabrina thought was a bit arrogant looking. “They sure are. I don’t like when bikini briefs ride up my ass. Although, I have to admit that nothing beats commando. I save that for the weekend. Sometimes. It depends on what I have going. My dates like seeing me in my boi shorts.” She waggled her eyebrows.

 

“You’re really going to sit here in your underwear and wait for your clothes to wash and dry?”

 

“Uh huh. Unless you’re offering to babysit them for me. I have a helluva study session to return to but I needed a break. Laundry seemed like a good choice. Sex would have been better, but I’m fresh out of new coeds to exploit.” She continued to sit on top of the machine with her hands on either side bracing her while she leaned forward.

 

The swoosh and thump of the washer seemed muted with Joey’s tall body muffling the sound. Sabrina noted how Joey’s torso did not change as she leaned forward. It was just as flat as when she had stood earlier like a Greek goddess.

 

She shook those thoughts from her head as Joey’s words registered in her brain. Then she pursed her lips and mumbled, “Pig.”

 

Joey held up her hands with her palms facing outward. “Kidding. Well...about the coeds, not about how beneficial sex can be in reducing stress.”

 

“You say every little thing that pops into your head, don’t you?”

 

“Refreshing, isn’t it?”

 

“Not the word I would have chosen. What are you studying?”

 

“Medicine. Final year of med school and it’s a real bitch. It’s never too early to prepare for the boards, but my real focus right now is the Step Two Medical Licensing Exam. Soon enough things will get better for me when I start my clinical rotations.”

 

“I hope you aren’t training to be a cancer doc. I don't think they will appreciate your brutal honesty.”

 

“Au contraire. When you’re dying, you want the straight up truth, not a bunch of medical mumbo jumbo. At least that’s what my mom wanted in her final months. She didn’t get it from anyone but me. Thank fucking God she did, too. I helped her cross off every item on her bucket list. I was the one to introduce her to one of my friends so she could have the real deal on a lesbian experience. Mom was hot, and it thrilled my friend to hook up with her. My father, bless his heart, accepted her need to do everything she hadn’t experienced before, even that. Just between you and me, I think he thought it was hot, though they both refused to have him watch.”

 

Sabrina wrinkled her nose. “Ew. I can't imagine my mother having sex, much less sex with one of my friends.”

 

Joey shrugged. “You get over a lot of the ‘ew’ in life when faced with the reality of losing a parent at an early age. Petty everyday life shit doesn’t matter anymore.” Joey hopped off the machine and turned away.

 

Sabrina thought she saw a small crack in the abrasive veneer. “I’m sorry about your mom.”

 

“Circle of life.” Joey turned back to face Sabrina and the left-over unshed tears were visible. “New topic. Do you work or go to school?”

 

“Both, I guess. I'm finishing my doctorate while working at an outpatient mental health facility.” Sabrina continued to stand as she answered Joey. She wasn’t sure whether to return to her hard-plastic chair or continue the unusual conversation with both of them standing in the middle of the room.

 

“Interesting.” Joey relaxed against the large washer and scrutinized Sabrina.

 

“It is. I could lecture you on how our whole system of healthcare is failing because of the insufficient resources for mental health, but I’ll spare you.” Sabrina tucked back a strand of hair that had escaped her hair tie once again. “Listen, I could watch your laundry for you. Give me your phone number and I’ll text you when they’re done. I can toss them in the dryer for you.”

 

Joey chuckled. “Smooth. Is that your tactic for obtaining phone numbers? You know, you didn’t have to think up any pretense, I would have gladly given you my number.”

 

“Um, I wasn’t...really that was not my, uh...”

 

“Relax, Sabrina. I was teasing. Although, I would like to take you up on your offer. There are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. If I devote the next couple of hours to studying that will allow me the free time to take you out to dinner tonight.”

 

Sabrina blinked twice and stared at the woman clad only in her underwear. She wasn’t sure if she’d heard correctly. Was this hot woman asking her out?

 

“You can say no, if that’s why you haven’t answered yet.” Joey frowned. It was the second time Sabrina had glimpsed something other than the confident, aloof woman.

 

Sabrina rushed to answer, not liking what she thought was disappointment plastered on Joey's chiseled features. “No, no, that’s not it. I was trying to work out in my head whether the dinner invitation was a date.”

 

Joey's face transformed and the tiny lopsided grin appeared. “Perfect. Text me later, Sexy Sabrina, and we can finalize the details.” She held out her hand and wiggled her fingers at Sabrina.

 

“What?” Sabrina scrunched her face in confusion.

 

“Gimme your phone and I’ll program in my number.”

 

“Oh, okay.” Sabrina pulled her phone from her pocket and handed it to Joey.

 

Joey started typing and chuckled to herself as if she’d made an especially funny joke. She handed the phone back to Sabrina after she’d finished and then dug into her duffel to pull out a fist full of coins. She stepped closer and placed them into Sabrina's palm, and then lightly stroked her wrist while looking into Sabrina's eyes. “You are far too beautiful for my self-preservation. If I travel to the other side unscathed, it will be a miracle.”

 

Sabrina watched her walk away and had an irrational desire to remove the boi shorts clinging to her shapely rear end. She wanted to try them on. To see for herself if they were as comfortable as Joey claimed. The bonus would be Joey without a stitch of clothing on. She’d have to remove the sports bra. She was never any good at that. The bane of any lesbian’s existence was a tight sports bra. That normally killed the mood when you were trying to impress your partner. Details. Tiny details for her full-blown fantasy.

 

 

Joey hadn’t expected to find anyone in the community laundry room so early on a Saturday morning. Few people were early risers in the building that housed students and a few young professionals.

 

She didn’t know every person in the building, but she knew most of them. Her neighbor across the hall and an occasional friend with benefits, Maribel, had mentioned there was a new woman on their floor, but Joey hadn’t paid a lot of attention to the idle gossip. Maribel had remarked on how attractive this new person was and had pinged her gaydar. Although, she wasn't sure why because the newbie didn’t scream lesbian. Maybe it was the eye contact. A look that lasted a fraction too long. If that perusal was followed by an obvious, or in Sabrina’s case not so obvious, cruise of her body, that clinched the assessment.

 

Sabrina was a lesbian, especially with her comment about trying to figure out if dinner tonight was a date. A very attractive lesbian. Tiny ringlets of auburn curls kept escaping from her messy pony tail and framed a heart-shaped face. Long lashes outlined Sabrina’s large, intelligent, hazel eyes, something Joey had focused on when Sabrina had let them roam over her body. Had she cruised Maribel too? Joey didn’t like that Maribel and Sabrina might have eyed one another.

 

Joey's thoughts returned to her future. Her final year of med school was challenging at best. A tit buster at worst. Sleep and free time were almost nonexistent. She counted on the generosity of Maribel to help her relieve the occasional stress she felt. She was one of the lucky ones who didn't have to worry about school loans. A job was waiting for her after she finished school. Sure, the job was in a rural area that provided care to an underserved population, but that was a small sacrifice in exchange for a debt-free life after medical school.

 

Joey sighed and returned to her studies. She couldn’t afford to squander her time daydreaming about Sabrina, when later tonight she’d drink in every last drop as Sabrina joined her, in the flesh, for dinner. A knock on her door interrupted her foray into internal medicine. Joey groaned in frustration. She did not need this disruption.

 

Maribel stood in her doorway, grinning. Maribel was stunning with her long blonde hair, blemish free complexion, and pouty, naturally red lips. Add to that her curvy body with large, perky breasts and she was every person’s wet dream—man or woman. She had a kind of raw sensuality that sucked a person in. Long curvy lashes accentuated her light brown eyes. An unusual combination that added to her appeal.

 

“Hey, gorgeous.” She held up a white bag. “I brought treats. I thought you might need brain food and some exercise to start your day out right. It’s never good to harbor all that stress when studying. Too many days have gone by. Let me be your release valve. I love when you study in your undies. It must be laundry day. Aren’t you afraid someone will steal your unmentionables?”

 

“Not today, I don’t have time.”

 

Maribel brushed the tips of her fingers over Joey's chest and pouted. “Aw come on. The day is still young. You have plenty of time to return to your boring studies.”

 

Joey caught a whiff of the sweet-smelling items in Maribel’s bag. She had to admit that freshly baked goods were always tempting when the aroma penetrated one’s senses.

 

“They aren't boring to me. I don't have time for this, Maribel. Seriously. And pastries are not brain food. How many times do I have to tell you that?”

 

“Someone’s grumpy today. Fine, maybe I’ll introduce myself to the new girl. She’s hot.”

 

“Don’t do that. Keep your fangs away from her.”

 

“Why? Are you jealous or something? Don’t worry, Joey, you’ll always be my number one fuckbuddy.”

 

Joey rolled her eyes. “Suit yourself. Feel free to knock on her door at”—Joey turned her wrist to look at the time—“eight-thirty. You know most of the people in this building don’t emerge on a Saturday until well past ten. Why are you up? I thought vampires slept during the day.”

 

“Funny. I know you’re an early riser and I was horny this morning, after waking from a wet dream where you were the star. It was worth a shot. Fine, I’ll just head back to bed now and finger fuck myself. Call me later if you want to have a little fun. I’m taking my pastries with me. Toodles.” Maribel turned and walked away after giving Joey a small wave.

 

Joey breathed in relief. She’d narrowly averted disaster. She wanted to keep Maribel away from Sabrina. There was something innocent about Sabrina and the last thing she needed was corruption from Maribel. Joey had barely resisted the offer of drugs that would allow Joey more hours in the day. Maribel had assured her the stuff was guaranteed to keep her awake. She’d insisted it was a myth that humans needed greater than four hours of sleep each night. Joey was functioning with five to six hours, but the constant lack of sleep was taking its toll on her after four years. She was glad she’d never surrendered to temptation. At least, not that temptation. She was only human. Other temptations were far too difficult to avoid. Joey was convinced that Sabrina was at the top of that list. If only she’d turned around the minute she’d spied that fine ass and run for the hills.

 

She sat back at her desk, flipping through her textbook as she sipped on her coffee. She made a deal with herself. If she buckled down without another intrusion for the next couple of hours, she would allow herself more interaction with Sabrina when the text came to retrieve her clothes. Dinner tonight would not be enough time, and a few more minutes wouldn’t make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. Quality study breaks were important. She’d heard a lecture once on stress and time management. The lecturer insisted that after a certain point, the law of diminishing returns played a significant role in the effectiveness of study time. Study breaks and brain food allowed for more efficient use of those precious twenty-four hours allotted to a person each day. All-nighters were not the way to go.

 

 

The loud buzzer from the dryer startled Sabrina from her daydreaming. She hated to admit that she’d been thinking of Joey standing there in her tight boi shorts that clung to her ass like a second skin. She had imagined Joey stalking her and taking charge as Joey pushed her down on the bed and kissed her. The kiss wouldn’t start tentatively. No, it would be rough and full of passion. Joey wouldn’t bother with buttons. She’d rip off Sabrina’s clothes to touch her bare skin.

 

Sabrina shook her head. She could not, no she would not let herself go there again. It was always the attractive ones that triggered her obsessions. When she’d moved to Seattle it was supposed to be a new start for her. But what was the harm in a little fantasy?

 

As she removed the warm clothes, the lavender scent from the dryer sheets wafted in the air, adding to the already faint smell of the room. She would toss in a few of the sweet-smelling sheets when she transferred Joey’s clothes to the dryer. She hoped Joey would appreciate the clean scent as much as Sabrina did. Her hands smoothed over the final T-shirt she’d folded. The laundry basket was now brimming with clean clothes.

 

The extra-capacity washing machine dinged and Sabrina walked over to remove Joey’s clothes and begin the final process. The number of boi shorts in the load of laundry was astounding. “Twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six,” she counted out loud. Who has twenty-six pairs of underwear compared to four T-shirts? This didn't make a lick of sense to her since Joey had admitted that she didn’t don underwear every day of the week. Sabrina maybe had ten pairs, and she never went commando. She wondered if Joey would miss a small item of clothing. She had a naughty thought as she pondered stealing just one pair. Surely Joey wouldn’t notice one missing pair of boi shorts.

 

Sabrina held up the teal pair in her hands and noticed a picture of a woman peeking through what looked like a torn piece of paper. The ironed-on picture appeared on the ass. Scrawled at the top was the word “Captivated.” Wait a minute. This was the cover of a book she’d read a few years ago. Sabrina wondered why Joey would have a pair of underwear with the cover of a book on the butt. She’d have to ask her about it at dinner. Strange. Sabrina reached into the dryer and pulled out a few of the other pairs that had a splash of color on either the front or back side. She wasn’t sure why she hadn’t noticed them before while counting. Six of the pairs had various covers from the same author. Was the author her girlfriend? Wife? She would most assuredly ask about it now. Sabrina was not a home wrecker.

 

She tossed the pair into the machine, added two dryer sheets, and closed the door. It was ridiculous to consider taking a pair, especially one with a logo or cover art. Sabrina had to admit that thinking about being some kind of panty thief was exciting. She’d always been a good girl and stealing underwear was naughty in so many delicious ways. She grinned and settled onto the plastic chair with her tablet thinking about her almost wave of crime. The book she was reading was okay, but it helped pass the time. Reading was better than fantasizing about a woman she could never have. She wondered what she was doing having dinner with Joey tonight. Sabrina didn’t do one-night stands, or two, or three. Not anymore. Her perspective had changed from the early days when she’d first discovered she was a lesbian. She vowed not to fall back into that pattern. And she wasn’t interested in being the other woman. Sex was a vague remnant of the past.

 

It had been a long year since her breakup with Carolyn and she couldn’t believe the wound still felt a little raw. Charming Carolyn. She could wiggle her way into anyone’s heart in a matter of minutes. That was the problem. She’d infiltrated more than one person. Man. Woman. It didn’t matter to her. Carolyn was bi-sexual or gender fluid and that hadn’t made a difference to anyone. What mattered was her need for newness. Sabrina ceased being new after their first year. By their fourth year, she was barely her roommate. Her roommate who paid the bills. Discretion wasn’t a strong suit for Carolyn. Sure, they were both young when they met, but sometimes people settled down with their high school or college sweethearts.

 

Sabrina clung to the intermittent rewards that Carolyn flung in her direction. A romantic gesture here. A night of hot, wild sex there. Those tiny morsels kept her alive until she brought her indiscretions into their bed. Enough was enough. Sabrina could not get past the sight of Carolyn’s head between one of their closest friend’s legs. The loud moaning was the final straw. The sight and sound of that evening haunted her still.

 

Carolyn had insisted it was nothing. Just sex. Couldn’t Sabrina understand that love and sex were two different things? She’d cried and said she loved Sabrina. Insisted she would get help and change. Sabrina took her last ounce of self-respect and moved across country to start anew. She understood more about addictions and illnesses now. Several years of an immersion into her studies solved that problem. Her compassion allowed her to forgive Carolyn, but not forget.

 

Shaking her head, Sabrina returned to her book. She sensed another person’s presence before hearing the clip clop of shoes on the hard, black-and-white checkered flooring. The scuff marks were starkly vivid on the white squares. An attractive woman was staring at her.

 

“Hey. I saw you the other day. You’re the newbie in 5H.” She glanced at Sabrina's full basket, nodded, and then grinned. “Looks like you’re done. How come you’re still hanging out in this stuffy room?”

 

“Um… I offered to finish—”

 

“Joey. You met Joey. I knew it. She sweet-talked you into doing her laundry. Didn’t she?”

 

“Uh...no. I offered. It was my idea.” Sabrina sat up straighter in her chair.

 

“Sure it was. Want some advice?” the woman asked.

 

“Not really.” Sabrina felt her irritation rise. This stranger would not tell her anything she didn’t already guess was the brutal truth. Getting involved with someone like Joey was a terrible idea.

 

“Suit yourself, but Joey, well, she’s an emotional vampire. She’ll suck the emotions right out of you and leave a vacant husk behind. You’ll be no good for anyone else after she’s done with you.”

 

“I’m doing her laundry, not fucking her.” The biting edge to Sabrina’s voice and use of profanity surprised her. She wasn’t sure why she felt the need to explain herself. “Who are you anyway? A jilted lover?”

 

“Nope, not jilted. I’m Joey’s occasional stress reliever. Maribel in 5B. I live across from Joey and down the hall from you. You know, you're exactly Joey’s type. Bet she already asked you to dinner.” Maribel lifted herself onto the machine across from Sabrina and crossed her legs as she settled in.

 

Sabrina wondered about the wisdom of moving into this new building. Capitol Hill in Seattle was a nice place to live. She enjoyed seeing so many other lesbians, but the drama she could do without. Not to mention how old and run down this building was. She didn’t consider the building as on the par with the projects from back home, but it wasn’t modern and shiny either.

 

“Look,” Sabrina began. She would use her calm voice, the one that worked with clients who unraveled. “If you and Joey have something going, I'm not interested in getting into the middle of any dyke drama. That is the last thing I need or want.”

 

Maribel cocked her head. “What are you? Some shrink or something? You have a shrink voice.”

 

Sabrina sighed. “Sorry. Occupational hazard. No, not a shrink yet, but I slip into the role more often than I should. How about we start again without the contentiousness that a mutual acquaintance seems to have caused? I don’t know Joey or you, but I’d prefer to be friends versus enemies. I’ve read about neighbors who are enemies and I don’t want any part of that.” Sabrina stood and stuck out her hand. “Sabrina. Truce?”

 

Maribel chuckled and clasped Sabrina’s hand in both of hers. She stroked the inside. “Another friend with benefits. Why not? You’re kinda cute with that messy ponytail and tiny dimples. Yeah, and I bet you clean up real nice.”

 

Sabrina shook her head. “Sorry, I don’t do the friends with benefits thing. Not judging at all. It’s just not my thing.”

 

“Ah. You’re one of those. That’s cool. Mashing sex with love works for some people.”

 

“I sure hope so. I’m still looking for that other person it works for.” Sabrina laughed.

 

Maribel smiled. “Broken heart, huh? I get it. If I had a heart to break, I suppose I might feel differently. You’re okay, I guess. For now,” Maribel added.

 

It almost felt like an afterthought, but Sabrina caught the undertone.

 

“Give Joey my love. See ya around, dimples.” Maribel pivoted and strolled from the room without looking back.

 

Sabrina shook her head and sat back in the chair, pondering the new challenges on the horizon for her. Maribel gave her the creeps. Something was off about her. Sabrina couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Maybe it was the smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. Or perhaps the sharp edge on her words. A little too crisp. This was a woman used to getting what she wanted, and when she didn’t, her mood spun on a dime. No matter how hot Joey was, Sabrina would clarify that getting in the middle of whatever was between her and Maribel was out of the question.

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