Chapter 32—


It was happening again; she was dreaming about him.

Within her subconscious, she kept screaming at herself to wake up… to leave the dream world and, by God, stop those racy and erotic images of her blond counterpart.

She was fighting an internal battle and the major problem was that no one had told her that this was a battle that she'd lost a long time ago.

Waking up in a cold sweat, she cursed Jude Keenan. It might not serve any practical purpose, but on some level, it made her feel a little better. She didn't get to sleep again that night, however.

The next day, she was tired and irritable and ready to strangle the first person who looked sideways at her. It made her seethe with anger to watch the mismatched duo of Blair and Mahew. They seemed happy and comfortable with one another, even though Lira still couldn't fathom what Blair saw in the chubby lawyer.

Hell, he still gave her the dry heaves (okay, so the dry heaves were a result of Mahew's cooking, but she figured it was all relative).

"What's the matter, Lira?" her mother, Amanda asked. "You seem in bad spirits."

"That's because I am in bad spirits," she sullenly replied.

"Egg nog?" her newest step-father offered.

"No thanks, Jim," Lira waved him away. He shrugged before going off to mingle with the crowd gathered into Lira's small house.

"Tell me something, Lira? How is it that a smart girl such as yourself can't seem to remember that my husband's name is Jason and not Jim?"

"I remember it," she snapped. "I just happen to be trying to make a point."

"And that point would be?" Amanda raised an eyebrow.

"That he… that I… ugh, just nevermind. I don't even know… I think that stupid blond piranha has rubbed off on me."

"The blond piranha is Jude, I'm assuming?"

Lira nodded. "To this day, he still refers to Blair as Buffy."


"Because he wants to annoy me."

"And you're trying to do the same thing with Jason?"

Lira didn't answer, although it was pretty obvious that this was, indeed, the case.

"Sorry," she finally mumbled. "I'll call him Jason from now on."

Amanda sat down next to her daughter and gave her an appraising look. The girl in question was too pre-occupied to notice the excessive staring.

"I don't remember you hating the holiday season this much," Amanda finally broke though Lira's thoughts. "Did something happen?"

Lira flashed back to her vivid dream from the previous night and felt herself growing hot with embarrassment. Oh no, she had already gone through that wretched flashing back to events that one doesn't want to remember… she thought it was over. She thought that she had finally put Jude Keenan, and everything that went along with him, out of her head.

"Lira?" Amanda prodded.

"Nothing happened. I just couldn't sleep last night, is all."

"That certainly explains the crankiness," Amanda laughed.

"It isn't funny!" Lira exclaimed. "I keep having this recurring dream and it's been driving me insane!"

"What kind of dream?"

"The kind that you don't want to tell your mother about," she pouted. When Amanda tried to object, Lira held her hand up and shook her head, "Just trust me on this one, Mom. It's not a dream that you want to share with your parent."

"Oh, an erotic dream," the older woman quickly summarized.

Lira's mouth fell open.

"What?" Amanda asked. "That's totally normal. Everyone has those at one time or another. You know, sex dreams aren't really about sex. What kind of sex were you having?"

"Oh mother, please!" Lira exclaimed. "You're taking this liberal parenting thing a little too far. I'm not talking to you about my… my…"

"Erotic dreams, dear. It's okay—you needn't be embarrassed. Why, I had a sex dream about Alan Rickman the other night and in it—"

"Okay, please stop. You're going to make me throw up."

Amanda laughed heartily. "It was about that ex-husband of yours, wasn't it?"

She quickly corrected, "He's still technically my husband." Then she paused and considered her words. "I don't know why I just felt the need to point that out," she admitted. "I don't know what's wrong with me lately, to tell you the truth."

"When's the divorce supposed to come through?"

"Um, still several months. I've been trying not to think about it."

"Why is that, I wonder? If you're having second thoughts, you could always stop the proceedings. It's not too late."

"Who says that I want to stop the divorce? I don't like being married… it's not my thing."

"Then why are you still wearing your wedding ring?" Amanda posed the question.

She looked down at the gold band in question in bewilderment. Why was she still wearing her wedding ring? They'd been separated for months. She hadn't even seen Jude since school had let out for the month-long Winter break. Not that she wanted to see him, of course, she quickly reminded herself.

"Was it worth it?" Amanda asked after a few moments of silence.


"All the heartache that you've caused yourself."

"I'm fine, Mom. I told you; I've just been having trouble sleeping. I'm not heartbroken."

Amanda took Lira's face into her hands and said in a very motherly fashion, "You remind me of myself. When your father left, I had recurring dreams about him and had the same glassy look that you do." She paused to let her words sink in. "You're heartbroken and what's worse, is that you're in denial."

"You still haven't gotten that tattoo removed?" Alan Keenan gestured to the cartoon character that was still inked into his son's skin.

"Uh… nah. Not yet," Jude answered, pulling a shirt over his head.

Alan slowly nodded his head.

"Oh what is that look for?" Jude inquired. "I just haven't gotten around to it. It's not like I'm never going to get it removed. In fact, you know what—since you brought it up, I'll make an appointment right now."

He grabbed a nearby phone and hastily dialed the operator. About twenty minutes later, he had an appointment to get the annoying thing removed.

"Three weeks from today," he told his father as soon as he hung up. "You happy now?"

Alan shrugged. "It doesn't really bother me one way or another."

Jude snorted before brushing past his father and heading downstairs.

"I hate the holidays," he muttered to himself. "Nothing but a stupid, commercialized…" He continued muttering and sputtering to himself, much to the amusement of Alan.

Jude stalked towards the front door in quite a huff. He hated to admit it, but lately even the slightest allusion to Lira put him on edge. He got defensive and exceedingly cranky. Maybe a few moments worth of reflection would provide him with a simple solution, but he had no desire to reflect on his soon to be ex-wife.

No desire at all.

"Where are you going?" Alan called after him.

"Back to my place. You do remember that I moved out last month?" Jude looked at him like he'd lost his mind.

"Of course I remember—but why are you going so soon? I'm sorry if I reminded you of Lira… I know that's a touchy subject, but…"

"It's not a touchy subject!" he exclaimed.

"But you did promise your mother that you'd spend Christmas Eve here."

"Yeah, well, I came, didn't I? No one said I had to stay the entire night. Besides, I already ruined my favorite shirt because Mom's annoying dog caused me to spill wine on it. And what's up with that dog anyway? It's the most annoying creature that I'm sure has ever walked the earth and I don't see why…"

"Tinker might be annoying but your mother likes her, so just let it alone."

"She's going through empty nest syndrome, eh?" Jude surmised.

"Something like that," Alan nodded. "You know, first Lira left and then not too long after that, you moved out. I know it sounds crazy, but the dog helps."

"Wait a minute—do you mean to tell me that she actually misses Lira?" Jude asked in wide-eyed shock.

"Well, I doubt she'd ever admit that in so many words."

"But she hates Lira."

"Oh, you know she didn't hate Lira. She was suspicious at first, but by the end, she'd really somewhat warmed up to her. At the very least, she'd become accustomed to her presence. It was very upsetting for all us to learn that you two were getting divorced."

"Yeah, well…" Jude trailed off, not really knowing what to say. "I guess it seemed sudden, but it had been brewing for quite a while by that point."

Alan nodded, knowing that Jude didn't want to talk about it anymore.

"Just stay for a bit longer, eh?"

Jude nodded. It wasn't like he had anywhere else to be.

A/N: Yeah, sorry for the long space between updates. And then I finally update and it's with this not so stellar chapter. I apologize and I really tried to refrain from writing such a horrible transitional chapter, but it had to be done. At this point in time, the next chapter is going to be the last one. That could possibly change but I doubt it.

Now, when that last chapter is going to get written is still up in the air. I've got about a page written right now but I'm insanely busy with school at the moment. I'm hoping that things will calm down a little now that midterms are over with. One can only hope, eh?

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