Hey guys! First I want to thank those who have commented on this story so far. Getting reviews definitely motivates me to post more, and lets me know what you guys are all thinking when it comes to the flow of the story.

Today's chapter is in honor of the election going on here in the states. This chapter was almost done by the time I posted chapter six, but I finished the final tweaks as I'm watching the election results, trying not to hyperventilate.

Happy reading! =)


CHAPTER SEVEN

But the Tongue Can No Man Tame…

"Ready?" Amy asked as she grabbed the end of her towel. "We drop them on three." She gave the redhead a supportive smile.

Karma played with her towel, nervously. "Okay, but promise you'll be gentle. I've never done this before."

Amy feigned a serious look and made the motion of crossing her heart with her finger. "Cross my heart, hope to die…" she reassured.

"Okay," the redhead agreed. "One, two…"

On three both girls dropped the towels covering their art therapy project. Amy immediately burst into laughter at Karma's adorable attempt at painting her. "My God, are my eyes really that far apart?!" Amy touched her hands to her face in mock panic.

"Hey! You promised!" Karma defended, holding back the laughter.

The blonde grabbed the painting off the easel and examined it closer. "And why does my hairline almost merge with my eyebrows? Should I be concerned that this is how you see me?" she chuckled. Truthfully, it wasn't that bad for a first-timer, but she loved to make Karma blush.

Amy turned around when Karma didn't respond. The singer was staring at Amy's painting of her in awe. The blonde walked up behind her and peaked over her shoulder. "I tried my best, but the time was too limited." Karma turned to meet her gaze.

"Are you kidding me?" She shook her head still in a reverie. "Amy, this is beautiful. You said you had 'tried it a few times,' but this looks amazing."

"Nah, I just had a great subject," she said, winking at the redhead.

"I'm serious," Karma said as she looked back down at the portrait. Amy had painted her face at the angle where the sun caught her profile through the window. The details were so thought out and meticulous.

"Eh, I dabble," the blonde responded. She placed her portrait on the table, and sat on a stool by the paintbrushes, leaning against the window.

"Well, well," Karma teased, "I didn't take you for modest."

Amy pretended to be offended and threw a towel at her. Karma let out a screech as she dodged the paint-stained fabric. "Kidding! But seriously, Amy, you're fucking talented."

The blonde gave her a shy smile. "Thank you."

Almost all the other residents had made their way out the area. Karma walked around the art room aimlessly as she continued to gaze at the painting. All the insecurities she had been developing since she arrived at rehab were starting to melt away. The fact that someone could see her this way, even at her worst, made her heart feel full.

"The truth is," Amy started suddenly, "painting was my lifeline."

Karma stopped walking and looked her way.

"When I was nine—" she paused, seemingly unsure if she should continue. Karma walked towards her slowly and smiled, letting her know it was okay. She'd never seen the blonde this nervous. It was extremely endearing. Amy smiled back and looked down at her hands. There was paint all over them. She was never very good at keeping it solely on the canvas. She didn't like to have to worry about that. She loved to paint freely and let things fall where they may…much like her life.

"When I was nine," she continued, "I got this amazing art kit from my dad. It practically became my best friend when my parents—" She paused, again, and shifted her body to look out the window. "They were divorced by then. At first he made sure to see me as often as he could, so I wouldn't dare think it was my fault. Then, when my mother moved in her new boyfriend after only three weeks, they got into a huge fight. I remember lots of yelling, and broken furniture." Amy's face hardened. "My dad came by less and less."

Karma made her way to a stool and sat down close enough to let her know she was listening intently, but far enough to give her space.

"He would come every weekend. And then it was every other weekend. Soon it was just holidays and birthdays." Amy's eyes looked far away, as if digging deep for something repressed. "I would practice painting everyday, for hours, just so when he came to visit I'd have new pieces he could be proud of. Just to put a smile on his face. A smile just for me."

Karma's heart ached. Picturing a young Amy painting in the loneliness of her room for hours on end was heartbreaking. The blonde was always so full of energy that it was hard to picture her not being wild and free. As private as the blonde was, she had a personality that people just gravitated to.

Amy didn't say anything for a while. Karma fiddled with the end of her sundress, unsure if she should interrupt the silence.

"He died a week before my twelfth birthday," the blonde finally spoke. "I had completed what I was sure was my 'masterpiece' just days before." She let out a sad sigh at the memory. "I wanted him to hang it in his office. So he could think of me everyday…" she trailed off as she continued to look out the window.

Karma stared at Amy's profile, watching as the sun made her hair seem like golden silk. This was the first time Amy had ever allowed herself to be truly vulnerable around her. It was always jokes and laughter shared between them, with the occasional whining from Karma. Now, for the first time, Amy was pouring out a bit of herself, and Karma was soaking it all in.

When Karma had suggested that they attend an art therapy class, Amy tried to dissuade her by saying how boring it would be. She wanted to just go to lunch and pretend it was Karma's birthday so Estelle could bake her famous red velvet cake for them. It took some arm pulling from Karma, literally, but she finally got Amy to agree. Now she knew why. This room held so many emotions for her. Like the music room does for Karma.

The redhead got up and walked up to Amy. She placed a hand on her shoulder and gently turned the blonde to meet her gaze.

"He did," Karma said firmly. "He did think of you everyday. If you were even half as wonderful then as you are now, there's no doubt in my mind."

Karma moved her hand to wipe the tears that were making their way down Amy's cheek. The sun was casting off her golden hair, illuminating her wet, green eyes. Karma had never seen anything so sad, yet so beautiful.

They held each other's gaze as Karma stroked her thumb across the blonde's cheek to wipe another straggling tear.

In typical Amy fashion, the blonde jumped up at that too intimate moment and wiped her face with her t-shirt. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to get all 'daddy issues' on you. Must be all the damn paint fumes," she chuckled. "Anyway, we should head out and see if we can still get that cake!" And just like that, the wall was back up.

Karma just smiled, grateful for what she did share.

The redhead looked down at the painting still in her arms. "I can't wait to hang this," she said. "It'll finally add some joy to those boring beige walls in my room."

"Tell me about it. I had to pin up pictures from magazines to make it feel like less of an asylum. Such a teen thing to do, but it helped," Amy confessed.

"Oooh, is a picture of me among those?" Karma teased.

"Actually, yea."

"Really?" Karma asked, surprised.

"Yep. Had to spice it up by giving you a goatee and a cigar, though."

Karma pouted and playfully punched her arm.

"Well thank you for practicing self-control and omitting them from this painting."

"You're very welcome! I seem to be a better person around you, Karma. Not sure how I feel about that, yet." Amy smirked and picked up her portrait from the table.

"I don't suppose you'd want to keep mine?" Karma made an embarrassed face.

"What do you mean?! This needs to be the first thing to greet me when I open my eyes."

The redhead smiled and gave her an approving nod. "Good."

The girls exit the art area and made moves towards their rooms in opposite directions. Amy grabbed Karma's forearm and gave it a soft squeeze. "Have fun during your visit today. I know you've been looking forward to this for weeks. Just don't let the B-S of what's going on outside fuck up what you're trying to fix. Just…remind him how lucky he is."

The redhead leaned in and hugged her, bringing Amy's body flush against hers. "Thank you, Amy."

Karma pulled back a bit to look into her eyes, so the blonde could see what she was really thanking her for. What happened in the art room created a shift in their relationship. Having Amy confide in her was a breakthrough for Karma. She was used to people wanting to befriend her because of her fame, and here was Amy, making Karma work for her trust. It made her feel…normal.

"Sure," Amy replied, not able to keep her eyes on Karma's at the close proximity. There was always harmless flirting and playful banter between them, but this was different. Heavy.

"Where are you headed to now?"

"The garden. Saw some beautiful coral flowers by the Athena statue. Going to grab some."

"Dinner at 6?" Karma asked slowly letting her go.

"Uh, I uh, I think I'm just going to grab something to eat now, and um, take a nap," Amy fumbled.

"Oh, okay," Karma replied, disappointed.

"I also have a visit to start prepping for. Her majesty is coming for her update on me next week. She's going to be away on our regularly scheduled appointment, so she decided to come earlier. I don't understand why I have to suffer her face so soon just because she has plans," Amy said with an eye roll. "Anyway, the level of self control it takes not to hurl my chair at her is extremely tiring. So I have to go practice that. Sitting in a chair. And not throwing it. Advanced shit, you know." She gave the redhead a toothy smile and started walking backwards. "So anyway, have fun with the boy-toy!"

Karma just stared with amusement as Amy practically ran down the hallway.

Karma smoothed out her short, green dress and took a small breath before entering the guest lounge. It took her three hours to find the right outfit. She hadn't brought much to Soleil, so when Shane promised to drop off some outfits after their last phone call, she didn't think he meant enough clothes to last her the rest of her stay. She was grateful, though. Karma wanted to look her best.

The room was pretty big with fancy chairs and couches. There were landscape paintings on the walls, a chandelier, and shiny, dark wood floors. Am I still in the same building?

Liam stood up as soon as he saw her. There weren't many visitors today, so it was easy to spot him. He wore a crisp blue suit with a crème button-down shirt. His hair was combed to the side, and a bit longer than Karma remembered. God he's so hot.

Karma ran to him and jumped in his arms. He laughed as he spun her.

"I missed that face of yours," she said. "And those lips!"

He kissed her tenderly. Karma sighed into his mouth and basked in the pillow-y kiss. What was I mad about, again?

"I'm so sorry it's taken so long to come see you."

Oh yea, that. Karma looked at him with a stern expression. "Yes, about that…"

"I'm an idiot, and I'm sorry."

"Keep going…"

"I was selfish, and got so caught up on myself when I should've been there for you."

"You're on the right track."

"I fucked up. I promise I'll be more attentive." Liam stared at her with the saddest puppy eyes he could muster—the face that let him get away with murder. Liam - 2, Karma - 0. Dammit.

She sat them down on the red leather couch, and turned to face him. "Just…don't disappear again, okay?"

"I won't, I promise. I love you, Karma." He leaned in for the kiss that would seal the deal. All was right in Karma's world.

She smiled and wiped some lipstick from the corner of his mouth. "So tell me about Milan."

Karma made her way into the cafeteria, walking on cloud nine. She decided against the efforts of changing into sweats, and instead wanted to grab something sweet to eat by the garden. She couldn't think of a better way to end such a perfect day.

Someone whistled behind her as she scooped some pineapple into her bowl. "Wow, all those curves and me with no brakes. Come here often?"

Karma turned around and was met with the smirking blonde.

"Hey! I thought you'd still be in la-la-land."

"Short nap. Got really hungry. Dreamt that I was surfing on a huge piece of bacon in an ocean of gravy. The shore was creamy, buttered mashed potatoes." Amy closed her eyes in bliss.

The redhead laughed, "Of course you'd dream that."

"What? I'll take meatloaf sharks biting at my feet over the nightmare's I usually have any day." The blonde grabbed Karma's fruit bowl and placed it on her tray next to her rice pudding.

"No donuts?!" Karma gasped.

"I'm not a one-trick pony, you know."

"You're just full of surprises today. Come, let's eat in the garden."

The girls sat at the table by the bronze statue of Athena, littered with the flowers Amy mentioned earlier. There was a slight breeze, making the flowers sway in the wind. The sky was getting dark as the sunset splayed beautiful red and yellow clouds across the sky. It was a beautiful night.

After sitting in silence for a few minutes, Amy let out a chuckle. "If you smile any wider, I'm afraid your face might crack. I take it the visit went well?"

Karma covered her face like a schoolgirl, and laughed. She looked back at Amy and gave her a one-shoulder shrug.

"Spill!" Amy coaxed.

"Hey, Karma!" Vincent interrupted as he walked towards them. "Wow! You look great!"

"Thanks, Vinnie," Karma smiled.

"Special occasion?"

"My boyfriend came to visit!"

This seemed to trip him up a bit. "Oh, right. That's great. Hey, thanks again for coming by the group session last weekend. It was really great to have you there."

"Yea, sure. I had a good time actually. Felt good to be surrounded by so much hope, instead of dealing with my cynical thoughts," she laughed. "And thanks for helping me with…you know." She made a not-so-subtle head nod towards Amy.

The blonde looked at her unamused.

Karma gave her a "hello, say something" glare before kicking her under the table.

"Oww! Uhh, I mean, Oh! Yes! Thank thou for thy gift of assistance with my abundant feast of delightful desserts." Amy stood up and gave him a dramatic bow.

Karma rolled her eyes at Amy's antics, but couldn't help the laugh escaping her lips.

"My pleasure, m'lady!" Vincent played along.

Amy scoffed internally.

"I'm really glad you enjoyed them. I have a friend who loves that bakery. He's been going there for years. He met his wife there, actually!"

"Fascinating," Amy said with pure sarcasm.

"Hey, you both should come to the group meeting this Saturday." He turned back to Karma. "I know everyone would love to have you, again."

"Yea, I'll let you know," Karma agreed.

Amy rolled her eyes, annoyed, as he stood there, just smiling. The blonde cleared her throat and pointed towards his crotch. "Um, you have a stain on your…"

"Oh, heh, yea," he said embarrassed. "New guy isn't too happy to be here. Threw his dinner at me right before we restrained him."

"Good catch," Amy mocked.

Karma tried her best to hold in her laughter.

"Anyway," he said scratching the back of his neck. "I'll see you guys around." He smiled at the redhead. "Hope to see you at group."

Karma waved as he left. "That was mean," she said, swatting Amy's elbow.

"What?! I couldn't stop staring at it! And you know how I feel about male genitalia. It was rude."

"Sometimes I wish I could see what goes on in your head," she laughed.

Amy smirked. "You'd walk around with a permanent blush on your face," she winked.

Karma smiled and looked away before a blush could threaten to creep.

"Sooooo…." Amy started.

"Yeaaaaaa…" Karma replied.

"Are you really not going tell me how it went?" the blonde pouted.

"Oh, you want to hear all about our hot make-out session? Perve!"

Amy made a face and took a spoonful of her rice pudding. "Ne'ermind," she said with her mouth full and a fake gag.

"I'm kidding," Karma chuckled. "It was great. He looked amazing as always, and he told me all about the great gigs he's been getting," she said with a proud smile. "After the show in Milan everyone was looking to cast him in something. I'm so proud of him. He really deserves it."

"That's great," Amy replied as she waited for the juicy part of the story.

"Yea, he's the hottest thing on the market right now. He's going to be on next month's cover of Men's Health."

There was a moment of silence between them. Karma ate from her fruit bowl as she waved to a few of the residents in the yard. Amy quirked an eyebrow wondering why she stopped talking.

"So…that's it?"

"What do you mean?" Karma asked, confused.

"No 'why haven't you called?' or 'why has it taken you more than three weeks to visit your girlfriend, who broke her arm falling off a stage from a drug high?'"

"I wouldn't speak in the third person—"

"Karma, I'm serious."

"Why does it matter? He was already feeling sorry about it, and I told him not to do it again."

Amy scoffed. "Did you also give him a big yellow star for effort?" she mocked.

"Seriously Amy, you don't even know him. He's a great guy who just made a mistake. Can you stop it with the Liam bashing already? It's getting really fucking old."

"A mistake? You're in rehab because you almost broke your fucking neck falling off an 8-foot stage. Not to mention almost drowning your second week here, and Mr. Pretty Boy doesn't even think to spare five minutes for a damn phone call?"

"He apologized!" Karma yelled, turning several heads in their direction. All her doubts were starting to creep back, making her question if she had really made the right choice. "What more do you expect him to do?!"

"You just don't fucking get it, Lauren!"

Karma scrunched her eyebrows in confusion. Who the hell is Lauren?

"When you really care about someone you put their well-being above anything else. Worldly things don't fucking matter when the people you love need you!"

"Liam does love me. Being in the entertainment industry can be a complete mind fuck sometimes, but you wouldn't understand that. He's trying his fucking best. What's your damn problem, Amy?"

The blonde shook her head. "My problem is that women like you don't understand that men like him have you wrapped around their finger. They fuck up, say sorry, and you sweep it under the rug until the next time they fuck up. Which usually doesn't take long. It's pathetic!"

"So now I'm pathetic?" Karma was getting pissed. "And, what do you mean women like me? And who the hell is Lauren?!"

Amy looked taken aback. "What?"

"You called me Lauren."

"No, I didn't."

"Yes you did, when you were yelling at me and telling me how pathetic I was!"

"Oh, fuck this." Annoyed, Amy got up from the table and grabbed her tray.

"Where are you going? We're not done here!" Karma yelled.

The blonde stopped walking and turned to look at Karma. Face cold.

Karma asked, again, slowly. This time making sure the blonde heard the anger in her voice. "What do you mean women like me?"

The blonde shook her head at Karma with a disappointed look. "Weak."