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"Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes, Part 10"
By MonaCK and Cathy Roberts

The door to the cabin opened, and Luka, Maggie, and Randi stumbled in. They had spent a little while walking the deck, and then they went back downstairs to buy a pocketbook that Randi saw that she absolutely had to have. Somehow, Luka had been roped into buying it for her, but he really didn't mind much.

It was something for him to do...something to get Luka's mind off the fact that Dave was on the ship with them...and John's reaction...John's reaction scared the Hell out of him.

The girls were chatting, and Luka stood quietly behind them, his eyes shifting over the room. Everything seemed to be in order. John's bedroom door was closed, but that wasn't surprising, especially if the man was still upset over the earlier day's activities.

Maggie was about to say that she needed to go lie down and get some pressure off of her ankle when the door to John's bedroom opened.

"Just one kiss before you go?" came John's voice.

"Uh...yeah...John...I think I can handle that," came the voice of Dave. And Luka watched in horror as the clothed and naked man embraced, obviously quite familiar with each other.

Well. Luka supposed that they had made up...maybe John would be in a much better mood...that was good. But Luka couldn't help but wonder why it felt like the bottom of his stomach had been pulled from his body...and his heart had been ripped from his chest.

Randi grinned broadly as she watched the two men embracing and kissing, and then she began to clap. "Good show, guys, but it looks as if we got back ten minutes too late," she loudly said.

John could feel his face growing warm as he pulled out of Dave's embrace and saw his friends in the sitting area. But not even his slight embarrassment over being naked and caught kissing Dave could distract from the happiness he was feeling. "Thank you," he said. "It looks as if we've made up from our fight and are now back together. Luka," John looked over at his close friend. "You were right, all it took was a bit of talking and things were fine."

Dave was smiling as well...happier then he remembered feeling in a *really* long time. And as his eyes looked around the room, he took stock in the reactions of Carter's roommates.

Randi looked genuinely happy. Well, that didn't surprise him too much, considering it was really her that convinced Dave to come up to Carter's room. That was something that he'd *always* be grateful for.

Maggie looked on with a bit of surprise, and if he didn't know better, he'd think there was a bit of distaste there, too. Well, that was odd, considering Maggie didn't really know him from a hole in the wall.

And Luka...Luka's face was almost unreadable.

"I'm glad that you've worked things out, John," Luka said, his expression continuing to be stoic. "Now...if you'll excuse me, I think I've had too much sun. I need to go and lie down for a little while."

It was as if his worst nightmare had come to fruition. Somehow, this was much worse then when Carol had admitted she still loved Doug...and when Abby and he had broken up over the fact that Luka thought that she was in love with John.

It was much worse because Luka was just beginning to realize his feelings for John. And now, they were being stifled before they had a change to really develop. And, without another word towards anyone in the party, Luka made his way to his bedroom and quietly shut the door.

Dave had a feeling that there was*more* than just concerned friendship going on there, but he decided not to dwell on it. "I'm sorry guys...I gotta go...but I promise...you'll see me later. And with another quick kiss for John, and a wink towards Randi, Dave headed out of the suite to go and answer his page.

John's eyes were glued to Dave until the man had left the cabin. Then he smiled shyly at Maggie and Randi. "I guess I'd better get dressed, excuse me."

Randi laughed. "No need to hurry on our account. Maggie doesn't care about your body and I'm not complaining at all about the view, especially since I'm getting the chance to view Maggie's handiwork first hand. Good job, Mags, but I'd like to volunteer to do the shaving tomorrow morning, or whenever you need it."

John knew he was blushing as he closed the door, shutting out Randi's leering look and Maggie's stern one. The only person who was going to be touching him was Dave, not Randi or Maggie, or even Luka. Grinning once more, John began to dress, wondering just how many hours it would be until he saw Dave again. If Luka had gotten too much sun then maybe they'd need to take him down to the medical center, or else call Dave up to the cabin to check him out. Not for real, of course. John intended to go and check Luka out just as soon as he was dressed -- he didn't want his friends coming down with anything while on the cruise.

The girls retired to their bedroom. Maggie's ankle was bothering her, and Randi wanted to spend some time 'nursing' her back to health. And Luka, after having shut his bedroom door, sat down on the edge of his bed.

Sweeping his hand over the sheets, he sighed softly. The previous day, Luka had been well on his way to being very happy. But now...

Now there were only memories. Fresh memories at that. Dave was back. Dave was back to claim what he thought was his...and John had willingly and eagerly gone back into his arms. As if Luka had never been in the picture at all.

And truth be told, it was very much bothering him.

There would be no more kisses...no more bed sharing...no more of that at all. And Luka wasn't quite sure how to get a grip on handling it.

Dressed, John crossed the now empty sitting area to Luka's door and knocked softly on it. If Luka were asleep, then he didn't want to awaken him. "Luka?" he called out, his voice low. "May I come in?" There was so much John wanted to share with Luka -- with the world, actually, but mostly Luka since he had been the one to listen to him when he had talked about Dave the past couple of days. Still, if Luka was truly feeling bad, then John didn't want to drive him to distraction with how wonderful it was to be back with Dave.

And, if Luka was badly sunburned, or suffering from heat exhaustion, then he *would* need medical help.

And if that meant that John got to see Dave one more time before that night arrived, then that was just a pleasant benefit, right?

Luka looked up at the door. John was just on the other side of it. "Come in," he finally said, after considering for a moment. Better to talk about this now than to let this be a problem between them for the entire cruise.

John slowly opened the door then stepped inside, closing the door behind him. Luka was just sitting on the bed, yet from where John was standing, the man didn't looked sunburned or overheated, although he didn't look as well as he had that morning. "You said you thought you had gotten too much sun, are you feeling okay? Is there anything I can get you? Water, a damp wash cloth?" A doctor, he mentally added

"I'm feeling fine, John," Luka said, sighing as he spoke. "I need for you to sit down here so we can talk for a while. Is that okay?"

John nodded, his smile returning now that he knew Luka was okay. And it was good that Luka wanted to talk.

John sat on the bed beside Luka. "I'm glad you're in the mood to talk, Luka. There's so much I want to tell you that I don't know where to start," John said, the words bubbling out of him. It was so good to have a friend, a male friend; that he could share all of that with.

Luka brought his eyes up to meet John's. Was John really so absorbed in his own happiness that he failed to see just how all of this was effecting Luka? It certainly seemed so. "You know you can share anything with me, John," Luka found himself saying.

Because, really, what else could he possibly say?

John was beaming as he looked back at Luka. "I know, and you'll never know just how much that means to me, Luka." He reached over and grasped Luka's hand. "I'm so glad that we've become friends and I could kick myself for all the time we spent nearly at each other's throats. It was such a waste."

Luka had to smile at that. "I am very glad that we became friends too. And...I only want you to be happy. Are you...happy that Dave is back?"

"I don't think there are words that can describe just how happy I am right now, Luka. It's as if a piece of me that's been missing has suddenly been returned," John replied, unable to contain his joy, especially since Luka was genuinely happy for him, too.

Luka had already told John that he felt that John was not over Dave. Luka had told John that he didn't want to push things...that he wanted John to be with Luka by his own accord, and not as second fiddle to his feelings for Dave. And what all of this had just proved was that John being with Luka was more illusive than ever.

But still, Luka had to say something, something to try to convince him. "I don't want you to be hurt by him again. He already hurt you once..."

John shook his head. "We've talked about that. I hurt him, too, you know, and we're both going to do everything possible to never hurt each other again. He's got a contract to work for the cruise line for four more months, so we'll have to be content with just seeing each other every now and then, probably when I'm able to fly out to Los Angeles. I think he was afraid I wouldn't be willing to do that, but I'd do just about anything to be with him, Luka. I was so stupid to have ever let him go in the first place. It's all my fault that we've both been hurting for over six months, and I've promised myself that I won't make that same mistake again." John felt touched by the fact that Luka cared about his feelings, but he wasn't just talking when he said that he was the one responsible for all the hurt -- he had been. But never again.

Luka listened, and then slowly shook his head. "I don't think it was only your fault, John. It takes two people to stay out of touch. You...you should be with someone who lets you say what you're feeling without having to fear that they are going to leave you because of it...you...you should be with someone who listens what you have to say, and understands you...not...not someone who is going to leave you if you say one thing against what he's feeling...that...that doesn't sound very healthy to me..."

He didn't want to burst John's bubble, but Luka felt that there were some things that needed to be said. And if he and John were as close as Luka hoped they were, then their friendship should be able to handle Luka speaking what he believed. "How...wouldn't you want Dave to tell you if you were doing something to upset him?"

"Of course I would. How can I make him happy if he doesn't tell me what I'm doing wrong?" John asked. It was obvious to him that Luka just didn't understand exactly about how things had gone wrong, and John hadn't been talking about them not staying touch, but rather about the fight that broke them apart the first time.

"What about him making you happy? If he is doing something that you don't like, then you should be safe in telling him that something is bothering you without being scared that he is going to leave you. If he loves you like you say he does, then he wouldn't leave...he might get angry...but he wouldn't leave..." Just like Luka would never leave him if John had told him something that he didn't want to hear. Much like John was doing to him right at that moment.

John frowned. Luka really didn't understand how those kinds of things worked, poor guy. "Making him happy *does* make me happy, Luka. And, I'm not afraid that he'll leave me if I say or do something like that. It's just that before, when we first broke up, I said things that made it sound as if I doubted his word, and I didn't. At least I don't think I did. I spoke without thinking, and then ended up saying something that goaded him into an argument. You already told me I was stupid to have done that."

Luka nodded and turned away. "Just be careful. That's all that I'm saying, John. I know you still love him. And I believe you when you say that he loves you too. But...he stayed away for so long...I would go to the ends..."

Luka quickly shut his mouth, not wanting to reveal more about his feelings than he intended. "I also told you that if it were me, I would go to the end of the earth to be with the person I loved..."

And Luka left it at that -- not wanting to say any more -- because he honestly wasn't sure if he was talking about Danjiella...or John.

John leaned over and gave Luka a hug. "Thank you. I will be careful, Luka, I promise." It was almost the way John often imagined things to have turned out if Bobby had lived, although Luka was a bit older than Bobby. Still, it was rather like having a big brother to confide in and to give you advice.

John pulled away, then got to his feet because he wasn't sure how Luka would react to the other things he had to say. "I know that we had a lot of fun recently." He couldn't help but smile at just how much fun they had enjoyed together. "But, nothing like that will happen again." John came to a stop and he looked over at Luka. "I don't cheat. I reminded Dave about that because he said he was a bit jealous, but I told him that we were good friends who happened to enjoy having sex with each other, and nothing more. I couldn't not tell him the truth about us, and Randi and Maggie. And Susan. I had to tell him everything and he understands how things were between us, and that I intend to remain your friend."

And with those words, Luka understood very clearly exactly where he stood...and exactly how John had viewed their relationship from the very beginning. Even though it had been mutually decided that it was only meant to be a little fun...that was...before. Before they had fucked. Before it seemed that things had taken another step.

And now...everything that had seemed crystal clear seemed to be muddied with confusion.

"I'm glad that you were honest with him," Luka finally said after a moment's thought. "And if you're happy...then I'm very happy for you...just remember that I'm here if you need...if you need a friend..."

John smiled again. "Thank you. You know I'm always here for you, too?"

"Yes...yes I do...thank you...and...I think I am going to take a nap now.. I'm not sun burnt or anything, but being outdoors made me a little more tired then I want to admit...so I think I want to take a nap before we go to dinner tonight..."

He turned away, confused and upset by the welling of feelings inside of him. The kicker of it was, if John had run into Dave only days before, Luka would have been genuinely happy for him.

But everything had changed.

John nodded, realizing just then that he had missed having lunch, and he thought that maybe he'd go out on deck and wander around, looking for food. And the ship's doctor. But first he wanted to see if Luka needed anything else. "Do you want to be up at a certain time? I can be your human alarm clock if you wish."

Luka quickly shook his head. "No. You don't have to do that. I won't sleep very long. I'll see you later," he said.

He stayed where he was at the edge of his bed, feeling awkward to do anything other then just stay put. The previous day he would have likely gone up and hugged John. And he most certainly would have convinced him to come to rest in bed with him. But that option was not open to him any longer.

"Don't forget that it's formal for dinner tonight," he said. "We'll both have to wear our tuxes."

John nodded. "I had forgotten that. We're sitting at the Captain's table." Then he grinned. "Which means Dave might be there, too. Luka, this is going to be the best vacation I've ever had. Now, let me get out of here so you can nap. We need to have you looking your best tonight, not that you'll need any help in turning people's heads once you're in that suit. The guys will be drooling over you, just as you had planned when you packed it."

Luka couldn't help but smile. Maybe John was right -- maybe he would turn a head or two while in the tux. If he couldn't be with John for this trip, Luka certainly wasn't going to mope around the cabin the whole time. Luka just wasn't sure how he was going to handle having an entire dinner with Dave at the table. But he couldn't worry about that.

"Go enjoy the ship. I'll see you later."

As John left the room, Luka put his hand over his eyes and sighed. He had to try to figure a way to get past this. Somehow.

Since Randi and Maggie were behind closed doors, and Luka needed a nap, John figured that lunch and a walk around the ship would be a good way to spend his afternoon. He found his sandals and put them on, then headed out. He lucked out and found a buffet still doing on, ate his fill and then started his sight-seeing tour. Not surprisingly, his feet eventually steered him toward the medical center.

A middle-aged woman greeted him with a smile as he entered the suite of rooms. It was a much nicer set-up than the ER at County General.

He smiled back at her, "I was looking for Dr. Malucci. Is he around?"

She nodded. "He's in with a patient right now, but if you'll have a seat, he'll be right with you. Although I might be able to help you out if it's a medical problem. I'm Nurse Davis."

"It is a medical problem, but I'd really feel more comfortable with him helping me out with it," John said, since he didn't want to tell her that his problem was a set of lonely lips.

She smiled knowingly. Quite a few of the gay men on the cruise had been insisting on having Dr. Malucci treat them, and without her present. Most seemed to be because they were too embarrassed about what needed treating. Others seemed to just want to stare at the doctor.

"It'll just be a few minutes, then." She assured him.

"Not a problem. I'll just have a seat over there." John went to the far side of the room and sat down. The place even had the latest issues of many popular magazines and obviously didn't have to rely on their staff bringing in their old copies.

Inside the exam room, Dave was applying the last of some burn solution on the legs of his young patient. "So...you gotta be more careful," he said to the boy, who couldn't be more than eight. "If you put the treadmill on that high, and then jump on, you're gonna get hurt."

After washing his hands, he walked back over to his patient, and ruffled his hand through his hair. "Now be good, and try not to be too much more trouble for you dad, here."

The man nodded. "Thank you, doctor. I'm sorry, my partner and I had just turned our head for a moment when we entered the gym, and I certainly hadn't expected him to do*this*."

"Quite alright. It's what I'm here for," he said.

As the man and his son left, Nurse Davis poked her head in.

"There's a young man here to see you...insisting on seeing you for a 'medical problem' that he didn't feel comfortable telling me about..."

Dave grinned. Yeah...this had been the story of his life so far on this particular cruise.

"Okay. Thanks. Send him right in."

Nurse Davis smiled at John. "You can go on in now."

"Thank you." John had seen the little boy and his father leave and it made him feel proud that Dave was the kind of doctor who could make a child patient leave with a smile.

When his last patient had left, Dave turned to his counter to write up his notes on who he had just seen. Yeah...part of him still missed the hustle and bustle of an emergency room...and the way the energy coursed through his veins when he worked on a trauma...making life or death decisions...but at least he was still practicing medicine...and making a pretty penny at it besides.

John had stepped into the other room and quietly shut the door behind him. Dave had his back turned -- his broad and strong back -- and had no idea who had just walked into the room. "I've got this terrible ache, Doctor Malucci. Do you think there's anything you can do to help me get rid of it?"

Dave heard the door open. He was still writing, and about to tell the person he would be right with him when the person spoke first. The voice sounded familiar...but just in case...

"What seems to be the..."

Dave turned fully around, the small smile that had been toying on his lips turning into a full-fledged grin. "An ache, huh? Does it have something to do with someone fucking someone else's brains out?"

Dropping his pen, he began to cross the room, closing the distance between his work and his love. And then, his smile faltered. What if he was really hurt?

"Is everything okay? You're not in any kind of pain, are you?"

John smiled at Dave. "I've got this pain in my heart whenever you're not around, but other than that, I'm fine. Except for my lips," he then pouted. "They're not fine."

Okay. Carter was playing with him. He could deal with that. "Yeah? Hmm...you know...I might have to make a really close examination of those lips. You never know...there's been some stuff going around...I wouldn't want you to catch it. I think that requires an oral examination. You're a doctor too, what do you think?"

John nodded as he watched Dave take another step closer to him. Damn, but the man looked good. "I agree. A thorough oral examination is definitely in order."

Dave couldn't do this. If anyone walked in on them, it would be his job. And he couldn't lose his job. Not again. He would disappoint Carter if he lost his job, and Carter would finally see what a loser he actually was...and he had *just* gotten Carter back.

No. Losing his job was not an option.

This couldn't happen. It couldn't...

Dave found himself wrapping his arms around Carter, pulling him into his tight embrace before sweeping his mouth down over Carter's. Fuck the job. Carter was here. And Carter loved him. No way was Dave gonna push him away again.

John pushed his tongue against Dave's lips, thrilled when Dave parted those lips for him. Lord, but the man tasted just as good as he looked. But, as good as the kiss was, John knew that work wasn't the proper place for the feelings Dave's kisses elicited from him and he slowly pulled away.

"I think that did the trick, Doctor, thank you. They'll be fine until tonight," John said with a grin. "Tell me, are you sitting at the Captain's table tonight? I was just wondering because that's where we're sitting at dinner and if you were going to be there then I wanted you to be prepared for when I start drooling at the sight of you in your formal cruise uniform."

"Hey, anything to help my patients feel better. Though, I do have to admit that is a more thorough examination that I usually give. I think I'll have to charge ya extra for it," Dave teased, as he leaned against the examination bed. "I'm gonna have to collect that payment a little bit later. You think you'll be up for it?"

As Carter continued, Dave furrowed his brow. "I wasn't supposed to be...but I think I can pull a string or two to get myself there," Dave said, thinking about the favor he would have to turn in. Yeah...one night working as a waiter in exchange for giving his buddy the night off would be worth it to be able to sit with Carter for an evening.

John nodded in response to what Dave was saying, and then he grinned. "Oh, I think I'll be up for delivering payment to you, no doubt about it. And I think that by then I might be suffering from something that can only be cured by having my brains fucked out."

Dave returned the grin, and crossed his arms across his chest. This whole situation...and those words...were things that he *never* thought that he'd hear again.

"Yeah? I think that can be arranged. Sounds like your gonna need another thorough examination though. I'll be sure to bring my medical bag," he said. Yeah...his medical bag. At least then he could make it a pretense that he was going there for a medical visit. Man. Dave really wasn't sure how he was gonna balance it...how he was gonna keep the fact that he was spending his nights in the main suite from getting back to the powers that be.

But he didn't have a choice. Dave needed the job. Dave needed Carter. There was no option.

"Oooh, your medical bag...that sounds promising. You don't by any chance keep handcuffs in there, do you?" John was willing to let Dave restrain him since he couldn't actually tie him down to the bed. Although, as John looked around the exam room, he thought it was a shame they couldn't do something in there. The possibilities were endless and the exam beds were perfect for playing.

Dave laughed and shook his head. "No. No handcuffs," he teased. "But, I'm pretty sure that there's a shop upstairs where you can buy some. *I* can't buy them...but you can. I'd betcha they have ones that are silk lined and everything."

"What's the name of this shop?" John asked. He had skipped the shopping area on his way to find Dave, but now he was curious to see what was in there. Would it be anything like the adult toy store where they had shopped on the way to the ship?

"Uh...I think it's called 'The Pink Pussycat'. It's only open for this cruise -- because of the majority of the clientele this week. But...when I went in there before we set sail, they had a lotta neat stuff. I'm sure you'll be able to find something...fun." Dave grinned broadly as he spoke. Yeah...fun stuff all right. Part of him was hopin' that Carter was gonna pick up some of the edible paints, too.

Dave took a step towards Carter once again, his grin growing wide. "You are insatiable, you know that? And if you don't get the Hell out of here right now, I'm not gonna be responsible for my actions...not that I want you to leave...but yeah...I don't wanna be interrupted when I'm with you..."

"Me, either. I'll see you later." He gave Dave a quick kiss on the lips, and then hurried out, giving Nurse Davis a quick 'thank you' and a wave as he left to go shopping.


"Tell me, again, why I *paid* to be uncomfortable all night?"

Maggie was standing in front of her closet wearing a bra and underwear, frowning over her dress selection in the closet of her and Randi's room. She hated dressing up. Absolutely hated it. She had tried to convince Randi that it would be all right if she wore a pants suit for any formal nights, but Randi wouldn't hear of it. And how dumb was it to mandate having to get dressed up for dinner?

Get dressed up. Just to sit down all night. It didn't make much sense to her.

And dinner that night was not going to be a treat. Carter had come back to the room somewhere on cloud 417 and told them that Dave was going to be joining them for dinner as well. So far, from what she had seen of Dave, the man was an arrogant ass. And man...she couldn't imagine what was going through Luka's mind at that moment.

Shaking the thoughts from her mind, she reluctantly pulled a dress out of the closet. "What do you think of this one?"

Randi looked at it and nodded. "Not too bad if you're going for the 'nun on vacation' look. This one is much better." Randi reached around her and pulled out a different dress from the far end of the closet, one she had designed and made just for Maggie to wear on the cruise, not that Maggie knew that yet. It was a red color that would complement Maggie's Irish complexion, with a halter top and open back down to Maggie's waist. The full skirt had several slits in it, some of which only came up to Maggie's knees, and others that went nearly to crotch level, but the sheer volume of the material in the skirt kept people from seeing anything they shouldn't.

"Wear this and you'll have all the lesbians creaming their pants and all the bi guys about ready to burst their zippers."

Maggie looked at the dress, and then looked at Randi, a half smile on her lips. "I don't think I've ever worn anything like that in my *life* Rand," Maggie stated, looking from the dress back to Randi. "I think that it's more suited for *you* than it is for me."

She eyed it warily again. "Ah...Hell. I'll wear it. Maybe it'll give Doctor Love something to look at at dinner tonight instead of Carter," she quipped as she took the garment from her girlfriend.

"Doctor Love? Who's that?" Randi asked as she helped Maggie get the dress on. As planned, it looked perfect on her, and Randi smiled as she regarded her girlfriend. "It's just perfect, don't you think?" she asked as she turned Maggie around toward the mirror so she could get a good look at herself.

"Doctor Love...you know...the doctor that you used to work with that took care of my ankle. That had his tongue shoved down Carter's throat when we got back here..."

As Randi turned her, Maggie stopped to look at herself in the mirror. "Yeah...you're right...it's a pretty hot dress. I'd do me," she teased as she looked back towards Randi.

"You'd do just about anyone," Randi joked. "I'm glad you like the dress since it's yours." She then reached into the closet for the dress she had created for herself.

Maggie looked over to Randi, surprised. "For me? You made this dress for me? Wow...Rand..."

It wasn't often that Maggie was rendered nearly speechless, but in this particular case, she was. "Thank you," she finally managed to say.

"You're welcome," Randi said with a smile. "It's not often that I get to design a dress with someone other than myself in mind to wear it. It was fun to create that for you."

"Dave's a great guy," Randi continued to say as she slipped off her robe so she could put on the dress. "A little overconfident and cocky, but once you get past all of that, he's pretty good. It's all mostly for show anyway. I told you before how the looks between them were hot enough to set the ER on fire, didn't I? I'm telling you, Mags, they're made for each other."

Maggie shrugged. "I dunno. There's something about Dave that bugs me. If he really cared about Carter that much, he wouldn't have picked up and moved cross-country to get away from him. It seems to me that he found a willing piece of ass, and that he's playing on Carter's feelings for him. I mean...Luka. Look at Luka. That boy is so far bitten by the love bug that he doesn't know what to do with himself."

Maggie looked towards the mirror, frowning at what she saw. "Do you think I should have different earrings on or something? These suddenly don't seem fancy enough..."

"I think you need something silver and red, or just silver. Silver would go nicely with that red. And what do you mean that Luka's in love? They're fuck buddies, Maggie, nothing more."

"Silver. Yeah. I have some silver earrings," Maggie said, as she walked over to the top drawer of her dresser. "I mean just what I said," she continued as she switched from her gold posts to some drop down silver earrings. "Luka is head over heels for Carter. You'd have to be blind not to see it. You saw how Luka reacted when we walked in and Dave was here...like a man who wanted to throw something in a jealous rage, but instead handled it like a mature adult and walked away. Luka wouldn't hurt a fly. At least, he wouldn't hurt someone he really cared about. I'm not so sure about Dave."

Maggie turned around, the ensemble now complete.

"How do I look?"

"Totally edible," Randi replied as she slipped her dress on. "You're a bit wrong about Luka Kovac, though. The first time he and Abby Lockhart went out, some guy tried to mug them and Luka just about bashed his brains out on the sidewalk. Then this year, this scuzbag neighbor of Abby's beat her up and Luka worked him over pretty good, or so I heard. It was one of the reasons the prosecutors let the scuz get off easy, although I'm not so sure that Luka knows that."

Randi then frowned. "Then again, he does care about Abby, and if what you say is true about him being head over heels for Carter, then he just might beat Dave to a pulp." The frown was quickly replaced by a grin. "Dinner is starting to look better and better isn't it? I wonder if there's some way we can manage it so that Carter's seated in between Luka and Dave? What a show that would be."

Maggie stepped up, and helped Randi zip her dress up. She was unable to keep from grinning and shaking her head as her lover spoke. "You are *horrible*," Maggie teased. "I *love* it."

She still wasn't so sure of Dave...but Hell...what did she know? And yeah...there certainly would be enough fireworks at dinner that night to start a full-fledged fire.

Maggie was just hoping that Carter wasn't the one who was gonna get burned.

To be continued
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