Rated R
Josh's POV


I rub my hands over my face and sigh. It’s been a long day. Correction, it’s been a long week. It’s Saturday and everyone’s at the bar.

 “You’ve got to do it again, Donna.” Sam says with a smile as he hands Donna another beer.

“Sam.” She’s smiling at him. She almost looks embarrassed. Why would Donna look embarrassed?

“Oh, come on Donna. It ranks right up there with ‘The Jackal’. But this time, I get to be the one kissed.”

Kissed?! What the hell are they talking about?

 “What thing?” I ask before taking another drink of my beer.

“It was nothing.”

Donna’s hiding something, I can tell.

“Donna did a thing.” Sam’s grinning a little too much.

“A thing?”

“Last night when we were here.”

“You came here last night?”

“For a little while. You were with Amy.”

“Oh.” I was with Amy. Fighting with Amy. Hurray for me.

“You’ve got to do it again Donna but Toby’s had his turn. I want to be the one this time.”

“One what? What did you do?” I turn to Donna who’s laughing at Sam. Toby smiles at her. Why the hell is Toby smiling? Why the hell is Toby smiling at Donna?

“I might be able to be persuaded to do it again. But you’ll have to ask my stage partner if you can understudy.” Donna grins over at Toby and winks.

“Come on Toby. You don’t care.”

“I wouldn’t want to break up the act.”

“Toby! Give someone else a turn. You just like it when Donna rubbed your head.”


“Donna rubbed your head?!” I think I just screeched that.


“When?!” Oh yeah, I’m screeching.

“After she kissed me.”

I can’t breathe. I think I’m having some type of stroke.

“Wh-what?” I choke out.

“You should have been there Josh. It was great. Right up there with ‘The Jackal’. CJ was laughing so hard she had tears in her eyes.” Sam laughs. I’ve got to get to the bottom of this.

“Maybe I should make her sing backup. Where is she anyway?” Donna comments as if nothing is wrong. Something is totally wrong. I don’t know what the hell they are talking about.

“CJ had to check on something. She said she’d be here in a few minutes.” Toby replies as he waves the waitress over.

“What did you do?” I lean over and nudge Donna in the shoulder. She smirks at me. That can never be good.

“We decided to sing a little karaoke last night. That’s all. No big deal.”

CJ appears at the table. “I didn’t miss it, did I? You haven’t done it yet have you Cher, I mean Donna?” CJ sits next to Toby and takes a sip of his beer.

“Cher?” I poke Donna in the side causing her to jump.

“Did I miss it?” CJ asks again.

“No. But you might have to sing back up this time. You can be the ‘shoop shoop’ girls. Well, girl.”

“I’m game!” CJ laughs as she takes another drink of Toby’s beer.

“Okay, somebody needs to tell me what the hell is going on and why did Donna kiss Toby?” Wait, I didn’t mean to yell that last part.  CJ’s giving me that look. I hate that look.

“Come on Donna. Do it again.” Sam urges.  Donna sighs and pushes against me to move out of her way.


“Great! Roger, is the machine on?!” He calls to the bartender through the crowded bar.

“All yours!” He calls with a smile. “Donna gonna do Cher?”


“All right! I’ll hit the lights.” He hits a switch and the colored lights start rotating on the small karaoke stage.

“You’re gonna sing?” I reach out and grab her hand before she can walk on the stage.

“Sure. Well, I can only sing this one Cher song.” Donna pulls away from my grasp and takes the microphone from the stand. Roger gives her the thumbs up and Sam and Toby have moved their chairs to face her on the stage. I’m sitting in the middle of them now. CJ and Sam are giddy. Yeah, that’s the word, giddy. It’s strange. Donna pulls her hair from the clip and lets it fall on either side of her face. She shakes her head and rubs her tongue across her lip.

“We could get her a black wig and a Bob Mackie dress and this would be a riot at the Christmas party.” CJ laughs over her own beer now. I didn’t even know Donna did a Cher impression.  I knew she liked Cher. I’ve come back to the office many nights and she’s blaring Cher through my computer speakers in my office. Donna nods to Roger and she starts to belt out a song.


“Does he love me?! I wanna know! How can I tell if he loves me so?”

Oh my God. The backup singers chime through the machine and Donna starts singing again.

**Is it in his eyes?**

“Oh no, you'll be deceived”
**Is it in his eyes?**

“Oh no, He'll make believe. If you wanna know if he loves you so, it's in his kiss.” 

She walks from the stage and stands before Sam. He’s grinning like a fool. But of course, I would be too if Donna was straddling my lap! Dammit! She leans over and takes his chin in her hands.
**Or is it in his face?**

“Oh, no! It's just his charm” She sits in his lap and he wraps his arms around her waist. I think my blood pressure just went up and CJ’s giving me that look again. Shit.
**In his warm embrace?**

“Oh, no, that’s just his arms. If you wanna know does he love me so, it's in his kiss.” Donna leans forward and rubs her hand through Sam’s hair. CJ and Toby are practically on the floor with laughter. She finally gets up from Sam’s lap and looks at me. I think my mouth is still hanging open. I smile at her. Maybe she’ll sit on my lap now. She rubs her finger across my cheek and walks past me to Toby. Shit.
”Kiss him and squeeze him tight. Find out what you wanna kno-o-ow. If it's love, if it really is, it's there in his kiss.” She rubs the top of Toby’s head and he laughs. Toby laughing is a rare sight, but Toby laughing while Donna is sitting on his lap is just something that should never happen. I think I just burst a vein. She leans over and kisses him lightly on the lips while the music still plays. Son of a bitch! Wait. I’ve got a girlfriend. Yeah, a girlfriend. Uh, Uh…..Amy. Amy! That’s right.

**About the way he acts?**

“Oh, no that's not the way and you're not listening to all that I say. If you wanna know If he loves you so, it's in his kiss. That’s where it is.” She stands and walks to where I’m sitting. She shakes her hips in front of me and continues to sing. Good God, she’s beautiful.

“It’s in his kiss. That’s where it is. It’s in his ki-iss. Oh yeah, it’s in his kiss.”

The bar erupts in applause and I’m left gaping at Donna as she flips her hair over her shoulder and licks her lips again.

“Thank you. Thank you very much.” She says in the microphone before turning back to the stage to replace it in its holder.

“That was fantastic!” Sam whoops. Toby’s still clapping and CJ’s on her feet wiggling her hips around.

“Why thank you.” Donna beams. I haven’t seen her smile like that in a while. I hold her chair out for her and she tucks her head. She has yet to look me in the eye.

“Where did that come from?” I lean my elbows on the table and smile at her.

“Me and a friend of mine did a skit in Drama class my freshman year.”

“How come we’ve never seen this before?”

“A girl can’t give away all her secrets.” She smirks as she takes the beer from my hand. I can’t help but give her a full smile back. This is what I love, Donna and me talking. No pressure. No argument. Just us. Well, us and three other people.

“How come I didn’t get a kiss?” Oops. I said that out loud. Donna’s grinning at me. That’s a good sign. At least I didn’t get hit. I take my beer back and take another large drink of my now not-so-cold first beer and look around the table. Great. Everyone’s grinning at me again. Shit.

“Better luck next time.” Donna says in a sing-song voice.

“No really. You kiss Sam. You kiss Toby. But me, nada. Nothing. Zilch. I thought I was…..that we were……”

Donna’s taken my beer from me again and now it’s paused mid air while she stares at me wide eyed. Oh hell.

“You’re what?” CJ asks with that shit-eating grin of hers.

“Nothing, Nothing. I’m gonna get another beer.”  I push away from the table and retreat to the bar. I glance back and Donna’s still staring at me. I’m such an idiot. Why did I have to say that? I'm such an idiot.  I look back over at the table and CJ's still giving me that look. Damn. Only one thing to do. Get drunk.
"Two more, Roger."
"You sure? Donna's gonna be pissed if you get drunk."

What the hell?!
"Just give me the damn beer."
"Fine, but tell Donna not to blame me when you pass out."
"Wise ass." I scowl at him. He hands me the beer and I walk back over to the table. I take a drink of one and hand the other to Donna. She hesitates a moment and then takes the beer and smiles. I love it when she smiles. Wait. I 'like' it when she smiles. Yeah. That's what I meant. I sit down next to her and take a long drink of my beer.


We’ve been here about an hour and I’m not nearly as drunk as I’d like to be.  Donna stopped drinking after the third beer so I know she’s not drunk. CJ and Sam on the other hand are shitfaced. CJ deserves it. It’s been a month since Simon was killed.


“Come on, let’s go.” Toby announces as he pulls CJ up by her waist. She laughs and reaches her hand out to Sam.

“Spanky! Don’t forget Spanky! He’s gotta share a cab with us.”

“He can share a cab with us.”

Toby nods like he’s talking to a five year old. Sam starts laughing as he and CJ start swinging their joined hands back and forth.

“What about Josh?” Sam asks as Toby pulls CJ’s hand from Sam’s so he can hold her steady.

“What about me?”

“Are you sharing a cab? We can all ride!”

“Noooo. No, no, no. He’s gonna take Donna home. Right, mi amore? You should take Donna home.”

“I will, CJ. I’ll take Donna home.”

“Walk her inside.”

Donna shakes her head while I smile up at CJ.

“I will.”

“And kiss her goodnight. You know you want to. Besides, you owe him a kiss Donna.”

What?! I look over at Donna who looks like she’s just been slapped. I feel CJ’s hand on my chin pulling my gaze from the stunned look on Donna’s face back to hers.

“Don’t wait too long Josh. She’s too important to miss. If you wait too long, she may not……” CJ gets that same regretful look on her face she wore for the first two weeks after Simon was killed. Toby pulls her by the waist and I can only nod my head.  Donna and I sit in silence as we watch Toby herd Sam and CJ out the door.  I look at the table and then over at Donna.

“Uh….we should go.”

“You don’t have to take me home Josh. I can get a cab.”

“I promised CJ.” I swallow hard to dislodge the lump from my throat.  Donna looks down at her hands and then offers me a small smile.


“Okay.” I stand and pull her chair out for her. She waves goodbye to Roger and then leads the way out of the bar. She stands on the sidewalk and I walk up and place my hand on the small of her back. It’s become habit. I hail a cab and hold the door open for her. We settle into the back of the cab and I give the driver Donna’s address.

“I didn’t know you could sing like that.”

“I know I’m not a singer.”

“It was good. You snubbed me. But it was good.”

“I didn’t snub you Josh.”

“I was snubbed.”

“There was no snubbing.”

“Did you kiss Toby?”

Donna sighs and I can’t help but smile.

“Answer the question, Donnatella.”

“Yes, Joshua. I gave Toby a light peck.”

I grunt a little which causes her to roll her eyes.

“Did you kiss Sam?”



“I didn’t kiss CJ. Do you think she feels snubbed?”

“She’s not feeling much of anything right now.”



She rolls her eyes again.

“Yes. In the course of my performance, I kissed Sam.”

“But not me.”


“I was purposely slighted.”

“Poor thing.”

“I’m devastated.”

“I’m sure you are. It’s a marvel you haven’t collapsed in tears.”

“I know. I amaze myself sometimes.”

“God.” Donna groans and I can’t help but laugh. She starts to giggle a little as we pull in front of her apartment. I offer her my hand for her to get out of the cab and it surprises me a little that neither of us decide to let go.  We climb her steps and then walk slowly to her door. I forgot to tell the cab to wait. That’s too bad. Donna unlocks her door and I follow her inside. I did promise CJ I’d see her inside, didn’t I? I’m just trying to keep a promise.



“Have a seat.” I flop down on the end of the couch and put my feet up on her coffee table. I hear her shuffling around in the kitchen and soon feel her arm across my shoulder.

“Here.” She hands me an opened bottle of water and two Tylenol, then returns to the kitchen. I grab the remote from between the couch cushions and push a button. The CD player comes to life and fills her apartment with a soft jazz singer’s voice. Soon, Donna returns with two mugs of coffee. I smirk at her. I can’t help it.



“You’ll wear it if you don’t stop.”

“Okay.” I take the mug from her hand and take a sip. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome, Joshua.”

“This is nice.” I say motioning at the CD player.

“It is.” We sit in silence a few minutes listening to the song. Donna sips her coffee and closes her eyes. I can’t help but watch her as a soft smile pulls at the corners of her lips.

“Who is this?”

“Norah Jones. It relaxes me.”

“Yeah. Me too.”

“Are you going to pass out on me?” I smirk at her.

“If I were on you, I assure you, I’d be a lot of things. Passed out, not so much.” She laughs and I find myself laughing along with her. It’s late and I should really go home.  Home.  God I hope she’s not there. I’ve got to tell the super not to let her in anymore.  There’s a reason I didn’t give her a key.



“What’s wrong?”


“You’re lying.” I grin at her and then study my shoes.

“It’s just that, it’s late. I should let you go to bed.”

“Josh.” Her tone lets me know she’s not going to let this go.

“I don’t want to go home.” She looks at me with those big blue eyes and gives me one of her sympathetic smiles.  She doesn’t say anything right away. I really don't want to talk about this right now. We both sit and listen to the music.


**Its not the pale moon that excites me
That thrills and delights me, oh no
Its just the nearness of you

It isn’t your sweet conversation
That brings this sensation, oh no
Its just the nearness of you

When you’re in my arms and I feel you so close to me
All my wildest dreams come true

I need no soft lights to enchant me
If you’ll only grant me the right
To hold you ever so tight
And to feel in the night the nearness of you**


“Why don’t you talk to her?”

“Amy Gardner does not talk to me, Donna. She screams at me.”

“So scream louder until she listens.”

“I’ve tried.”

“What do you want, Joshua?” Someone to love me as much as I love them. Whoa.  That was…..deep.

“I don’t know.”

“I think you do and you know that you haven’t found it yet.” I swipe my hands through my hair and look at her again.

“I don’t want to be that kind of guy.”

“What kind of guy?”

“Hit and Run.” She stares at me for a few minutes before taking the coffee mug from my hand.  She stands and carries both mugs to the kitchen before returning to the couch. She sighs and turns in her seat a little so she can face me.

“That’s stupid.”

“Thanks Donna. I’m glad we can share these little talks.”

“Shut up. You’re telling me that this whole relationship with Amy has been to prove a point?!”

“No. Yes. No, it’s like……”

“Relationships aren’t supposed to be about proving points, Josh. They should be about proving your love.”

“Amy doesn’t love me.”

“Do you love Amy?” I stare at the floor again and she reaches out and puts her hand on my arm.

“What if no one ever loves me Donna? What if I never……”

“I love you Josh.”  She says it so casually I almost didn’t catch it. I look at her for any indication she’s just trying to lighten the mood by teasing me. She’s not.

“But you don’t love me like that Donna. I’m just your friend. You don’t see me like that.”

“Why do you think that?” She’s cocked her head to one side and is looking at me like I’ve confused the hell out of her. Must be how I look right about now.

“Because you don’t. I mean, you don’t? You don’t.”

“Do you love me Josh?” I think my eyes are about the size of dinner plates. I swallow hard and hope the tightness in my chest isn’t a heart attack.

“Yes.” Oh shit. I didn’t mean to say that out loud.

“Do you love me just as a friend?” Think. Think. Talk your way out of this. This needs to not happen. We can’t do this. Not now.

“No.” Oh God.




“Donna? I…….”

“It’s late Joshua. You should go home and get some sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.” She stands and I stand with her. She walks to her door and I blindly follow. I’m standing in her door and I can’t quite figure out what the hell just happened. She smiles as she takes my hand in hers.

“Thanks for bringing me home and walking me inside.”

“I promised CJ.” I grin. I can’t help it. Donna’s rubbing her thumb lightly across my knuckles and I really don’t want her to stop.

“You did. But you haven’t kept all your promises to her yet.”
”I haven’t?”

“No. Besides, I wouldn’t want you to keep feeling snubbed.” She tugs on my hand and pulls me closer to her. She presses her lips to mine and kisses me. She pulls back so I can see her face and she’s smiling.

“See you in the morning, Joshua.” I nod my head and smile at her as I take a step back through the door. I don’t think my mind can wrap itself around what just happened. Donnatella Moss just kissed me and it was anything but a friendly kiss. Before I think about what I’m about to do, I take two steps forward and kiss her again. I feel her hand resting against my chest as she holds my other hand in hers. I gently lick her bottom lip and I think I just lost the ability of thought when she parts her lips for me. Her mouth is so warm and soft and I never want to leave. She pulls away and I think I’ve overstepped.

“I’m sorry.” I stammer before I can think of anything else to say. I look up from the floor and see her smiling at me again.

“Get some sleep Joshua.” I smile at her and nod again. I think Donna Moss just rendered me stupid.

“I will.”

“See you in the morning.”

“Okay.” I’m still nodding and I’m not quite sure why.

“And Josh?”


“You’re not one of those guys.”

“I’m not?”

“No.” The look on her face when she says it makes me smile. I nod again.

“Goodnight, Donnatella.”

“Goodnight, Joshua.”  She closes the door and I find that I can’t move yet.  Somewhere during that conversation I admitted I love Donna. I think she loves me too. I’m pretty sure. I’m not that inept at this, am I?   I finally find the ability to move and I start walking down the street toward my place. Maybe we can all go out again tomorrow night. Maybe Donna will do Cher again. I kinda hope Amy is at my place. That way I won’t have to wait until morning to do what needs to be done. 


 ** It's In His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song)
Written by Rudy Clark

The Nearness of You
Written By: Ned Washington, Hoagy Carmichael**