R’ Place Part 2 by Minerva

Story #8: The Fear Inside

They stood outside the red brick apartment building while Lil juggled the keys, trying to find the right one. Puffs of white smoke filled the entryway as the occupants breathed the brisk late night air. There was only one who was oblivious to the tension and the nervousness radiating. She was coddled and fast asleep in the tall blonde’s arms.

Lil swallowed and willed her shaking, nerveless fingers to obey her command. They were here. Their new home. She peaked discreetly over her shoulder at the blonde. ‘She’s given up everything for me. All the luxuries, only to live with me in a Spartan existence. Could she take it? Losing it all to be with me? Or would she just someday leave without saying a word?’ A vice like pain gripped the brunette’s heart, knocking the wind from her chest. The keys fell with a muffled plink, near the luggage.

“Dammit!” She said cursing her clumsiness and the uncontrollable feelings.

The younger woman bent down quickly to fish the key from between the bags. So much had happened. The brunette quivered on the inside, remembering the cryptic message over the radio waves. . . all presumed dead. And now she was here. Moving in. Nothing was asked. Nothing was planned. It all happened in one giant leap. She resisted the urge to swear again. Flipping long, curly tresses over her shoulder, she tried the keys again.

‘Yes, I’m relieved that she’s here, alive, breathing. . .” Where the pain gripped her heart minutes before, fear permeated it, making it thud. Her hands shook harder. They had skipped quite a few steps in this relationship. She was sure of it, and that combined with the fact that there was a lack of communication between them scared her. ‘Sometimes I have no idea what goes on under that blonde hair or behind those eyes. Would she tell me if she tired of tending to the baby? It she needed space? If she needed more. . . anything? Or would she retreat into herself like I have seen her do?’ There were so many fucking questions that she was afraid to ask and get answered. Yet, here they were moving in together, sleeping together, waking up together every night and every morning. With a snap of a finger, it could end in devastation. In desolation. In unbelievable pain.

Finally, the correct key slid home with a click. The door opened to their new lives. She blinked, blind in the darkness. Clicking on the light, she could see again.

****

Catt hugged the toddler closer to her body for warmth, for comfort, for security. Gray eyes skittered around the bleak cold outside then at the darkness inside. Her heart rammed against her ribcage, and she tried to desperately hide the increased cadence of her breathing. Prickly sweat ran down her back under the layers of clothing, and she wanted to whimper at the sinewy shivers that crept down her back in accompaniment. The blonde licked her lips and swallowed. Her mouth full of cotton wool. She recognized the symptoms to the reoccurring disease she’d had for years. Fear. Physically and mentally debilitating fear. Her mind was a jumbled mass of reasons to flee. ‘She’s too young. I don’t know how to take care of a kid. Her parents would never accept me. I’ll find some way to screw it up. Run. Run now! Tell her!’

The older woman had felt this before, been through this a few days ago. Hoping the fear had been conquered, simply by getting off that plane and coming back. She was wrong. Straight white teeth bit down hard on her bottom lip to stop the impending scream. ‘I’ve given up everything, my career. Everything. To be a part of something that could dissolve like sugar in water. Is this worth it? Is she worth it?’ Questions. There were so many unknowns. Still, the tall blonde followed her lover into the darkness. Maybe illumination would come.

Lil sat the keys on the nearby table and scanned the small living room, hoping it was clean. Somewhat satisfied, she turned to her lover and said softly, “Well, we’re here. Welcome to my place.”

Not hearing her, Catt looked around with wary eyes, taking in the two piece gray/black striped living room set with black slip covers thrown over the back and the matching coffee table with complimentary in tables. All trimmed in black. Heavy gray lamps illuminated the beige walls littered with knick-knacks and posters in frames. It looked lived in. Homey. Welcoming. Not at all what she was used to in her sterily decorated condo. Continuing to look around, she felt dark blue boring into her.

‘She’s said something, and I missed it.’ Catt pulled Jamie closer. Deep blue eyes stared back at her glowing with hurt.

“Uhm, I said welcome,” Lil said a little louder.

“Oh, it’s nice. Feels comfortable.”

She tried to smile but failed miserably when facial muscles refused to lift on both sides. ‘Shit, messing up already.’

Lil sucked in a breath, ‘She doesn’t like it. She’s just placating me.’ In an automatic defense, she hid the hurt. Her psyche starting early in building a wall it assumed was needed. That same part of her subconscious pushed for a subject change. “I’ll take her. She needs to be put to bed.”

Panic mingled with the fear, making the blonde’s legs decidedly wobbly. The little girl had made her feel warm and safe for some inexplicable reason, and she didn’t want to give her up just yet.

“No!”

It came out harsher than she intended. She looked up, waiting to see the flash of pain. It never came. “Uh, sorry. Just tell me where, and I’ll do it.”

“Uhm, okay, it’s right through there.” Her voice sounded lack luster even to her own ears, as she pointed to the unlit hallway past the small kitchen.

Catt disappeared into the dimly lit hallway. Walking into the open door of the bedroom, she flicked on a light further inside the room. Looking around, the gray eyes spied the toddler’s bed equipped with bars. Lifting them up, the she lay Jamie down gently, and looked down at the child with envy. The sleep of the innocent. Guiltless and without responsibility. She wiped a stray curl off the small forehead. “Your mother and I have a lot of talking to do little one, an awful lot.” Removing her coat, she continued to stare down at the child, knowing right then that the little girl already held a special place in her heart just like her mother.

These feelings sparked fire making her want to fight, to win. ‘What was it Tara asked me? Is she your life now?’ Closing her eyes, she answered the question once again. “Oh God, yes.” Her life had never been so full or felt so complete. A different kind of fear, just as debilitating, ceased her, an unfamiliar one. The fear of losing what she loved most. A wave of pain made the blonde unsteady on her feet. She sat down on the queen-size bed, trying to control her suddenly hampered breathing. Tears sprang to her eyes, and they were wiped away by the backs of the older woman’s hands, making room for more. Another wave of pain made her cry out softly. She felt it, a gaping wound in her chest. An empty hole only filled by the brunette in the other room. Shaking her head vehemently, she tried to alleviate both forms of fear. Something. Anything that made her feel this much must be worth fighting for, sacrificing for, changing for.

****

Having shed her coat, Lil sat sprawled on the couch and deep in thought. ‘ I’m scared, but I love her. I’ve got to make this work. I know this is all new to her, loving me, now living with me, but it is to me too. If we’re feeling the same things, why can’t we talk about it? I need to know what she’s thinking and feeling for both our sakes. I should be able to approach her and talk about this, but God help me, it’s so hard.’

Feeling frustrated, Lil jumped up pacing around the living room and noticing the message light blinking on the answering machine. She pushed the button, waiting for the tape to rewind.

“Hey sis, call us when you get home, kay?” There was a slight muffle. “T says kiss lil bit for her and tell her she’s missed.”

The brunette smiled then felt it fall slightly. She hated leaving after what had happened to Gab, but there was school. The younger woman saw it in her sister’s eyes. She had killed a man, and she was far from okay. Neither was T. ‘God, I hope they’ll be alright. Their mother wanted her to come home, but both Gab and T convinced her that it would be better not to run away. So, they agreed that she would come to Terre Haute, next week to stay for awhile. That alone should be interesting. She thought.

Thinking of her own situation, she knew her parents would be upset because she didn’t stop by, but it was entirely too late. Besides what was she going to say? “Mom here’s Jamie’s new mother?” Sitting down again, the brunette tapped her feet against the carpeted floor. Waiting. Restless.

Having left the bedroom long minutes ago, Catt leaned her lanky body against the wall. Her head rested against the beige plaster, while her foot tapped against it. She blew a honey strand from her eyes. “I have to go in there, but what do I say?’ Just tell her what you feel, and take it from there, a little voice said. She pushed off the wall, straightening her tall frame, and slowly headed into the living room, into the light.

Somehow she sensed the blonde’s presence and looked up. Gray and blue clashed, sending secret messages of confusion, fear, and doubt. The things they could not or would not voice as of yet. Catt made her way to the couch and sat down a few inches from her lover. Lil smiled as the familiar scent of Chanel enveloped her.

“Hey,” she simply said.

After a brief pause, the greeting was returned. “Hey yourself. Uh, Jamie barely woke when I put her to bed.”

“Mmm, thanks again.”

The silence strained between them, making nerves raw and fears multiply. Lil wiped her sweaty hands on the fabric of her jeans. Someone had to say something. They hadn’t reached the point where silences were cherished. Yet.

“Uhm, C-Catt can we talk?”

The blonde held her breath. ‘This is it.’ Scooting a little closer, she answered, “Yeah, I think we need to.”

Then nothing but breathing pierced the quiet. Lil rubbed her hands on her legs once more, maybe fishing for a little courage. Somewhere she got it.

“I know you gave up a lot to be with me. I wanna know if that was what you wanted to do?” She shook her head not fully understanding her own words. “God, that didn’t sound right. Uh, are you here because you want to be or because it’s what I wanted?” She asked softly, while licking the nervous sweat from her upper lip.

Catt was stunned not, expecting to hear that line of question. ‘I thought she knew.’ “How can you ask me that?” Her voice was high and accusing.

Soft blue eyes stared back at her with conviction. “Because, I don’t know for sure.”

Startled gray eyes widened. ‘Yes.” She said hoarsely. “Of course I want to be here.”

“You want to stay with me, living like this, raising a child and dealing with my family?” Courage and need to save the relationship spurned her on. ‘I need to know.’

The blonde held her hands up totally unprepared for the bombardment. “Whoa, whoa, where is all of this coming from? You sound so unsure and insecure about us.”

Lil jumped up, suddenly filled with energy. “I am dammit! Aren’t you? Look at me Catt!” Bending down on her knees, she framed the confused face with her hands, turning gray into blue. “Look at me. I’m scared to death. Can’t you see it?! I don’t want to lose you baby. That scares me even more.”

The older woman flinched. It felt strange to hear her own fears voiced for the first time. It was a type of release. She closed her eyes, hoping to gain some kind of steady ground. When she opened them again, it was to tears dripped from blue eyes onto her own face.

“Don’t leave me. Please don’t.”

Something tore inside Catt upon hearing the entreaty mixed with such emotion. Something tore then fell. It was the last wall around her heart, her soul. Covering small wrists with her larger hands, she brought shaking fingers to her mouth, kissing each one with reverence. Like an erupting volcano, emotion bubbled through her, making her gasp and stormy gray water.

“Shhh, it’s okay. Shhh.”

After quiet moments of comforting sounds, a sob wrenched from her red lips. “Oh God, Lil I’m so scared. So scared of so many things. I’m afraid of loving you too much, losing me, not being enough. It’s so much.” Lil cradled the older woman’s slumped body in her arms as mutual tears flowed.

Long after the rived dried, they talked about fears, doubts, needs and choices. Hours into the night, the living room was sometimes filled with quiet laughter but more times than not it was tears. Just when the sky lighted with waking colors of red and orange, they still sat, huddled on the couch. Lil straddled the slim thighs of her lover, giving them room to hold each other. She lovingly pushed back blonde bangs, peering into expressive gray. The silence wasn’t tense, but neither was it comfortable. It existed somewhere in between. Eyes that had communicated wariness and fear before, held a higher grade of confidence in love.

Finally, the silence was broken. “I could never leave you. I’ll fight as long as there’s something here,” she pointed to her heart.

Small fingers traced red, full lips, fascinated that such words could fall from them. The brunette’s breath hitched as she read the truth in pale eyes and quivering lips. A truth she wanted to share physically. Leaning in, lips touched hesitantly, tentatively, and softly like a whispered promise. Then they clung moistly like a promise kept. Murmured sighs escaped as bodies meshed closer, gravitating toward heat. The kiss ended with another promise.

“Catt, will we be okay?”

“Only if we work on it. Only then.”
Story #9: Love and Other Surprises
The early morning sun sifted through the closed drapes, but the two forms on the bed paid it no mind. Jamie was sleeping; the apartment was quiet; it was the weekend; and it was the perfect time for lovers to indulge and play.

The sweat stung her eyes, but Lil didn’t care. She could feel the pinpricks in her back as it protested its position, but she didn’t care about that either. It was the gray eyes that looked down at her that spurred her on, so she crunched the sheets between her fingers and held on.

The lithe young body barely touched the bed. Long legs were suspended over the capable shoulders of her lover, who had found it more alluring to sit up on her knees rather than lay, leaving Lil’s head and upper shoulders as the only thing resting on the cool sheets. Strong elegant hands held on to slick upper thighs, keeping them parted just enough to let her mouth and tongue play. Lil’s back arched further upward as an experienced tongue hit a particular sensitive spot.

“Unghh, yeah!” She rasped out through labored breathing.

Still, she didn’t dare close her eyes even as pleasure made them heavy. Gray gazed back at her, revealing enjoyment, need, and desire. Blonde hair was damp with sweat and flowing juices. It was a testament to her labor as well as a matter of savoring the sweet, salty mix that was a result of it. In reply to Lil’s constant quips and moans, Catt let a growl of delight tickle the back of her throat then exit her lips, “Mmmm.” The reward was a louder whimper that made her own thighs contract.

Her talented tongue swirled around the distended nodule then stabbed at the raised hood with the tip of the probing muscle. It then traveled down the length of her lover’s sex, exploring inner lips before sucking them gently. Curling the sides of her tongue, Catt plunged into the source of heat and wetness and heard the answering scream ring in her ears. She thrust inward deeply and pulled out to lick around the sensitive outside. The blonde woman couldn’t decide if it was the taste, the feel, or the sound of her that was driving her mad. All in all, it aided the constant throb between her legs that grew in intensity with each passing second, and it made her effort to heighten the pleasure relentless.

She continued to surge inside the slick opening and tore her eyes away from deep blue to examine moist folds. Nether lips were puffy, red with arousal and the infusion of blood, and her proud clit peaked from under its tender hood, pulsing and growing before gray eyes. Electric tendrils wove their way through her body at the sight, settling heavily between her legs and causing a whimper of her own. The brunette was so close that Catt could feel it, taste it, and even see it. Thrusting a few more times, she decided to change tactics.

The busy tongue traveled back upward, leaving ravaged flesh in its wake and finally circled the enlarged clit once again. Covering it with her lips, Catt initiated a slight suction. Once the aroused flesh was in the warm cavern of her mouth, she pushed it gently against the edge of strong teeth and raked the hood before reverting back to an even stronger suction.

“Ah, fuck!”

Lil’s world went black for a fraction of a second as pleasure stormed through every fiber of her being. However, she didn’t dare miss this, so the dimness turned into a sparkling gray once more. Devoured. That was the only coherent word passing through her brain. She had to tell her; she had to let her know how good. . . “Yesssss, suck it!” She sobbed through gritted teeth. Catt obliged her.

Even through the haze of pleasure, the labored breathing, and breathy moans, Lil could hear a slight buzzing in the near distance. It was insistent, and it then turned into knocking. Her arousal deflated a fraction. Seeing that her lover was distracted, Catt looked down inquisitively. Lil closed her eyes because surely she was hearing things. Who on earth would come over this early? And didn’t they realize all that racket could wake the baby? She heard it again and her head fell back against the pillow in exasperation. Her back screamed at the sudden inactivity, causing her to hiss out, “Someone’s at the damn door!”

Catt tore her mouth away from its nest with a slurp. She licked away the moisture around her lips. “What?!”

The younger woman sighed and bucked slightly, trying to ease the pain. “I saiiiid that someone is at the fucking door!”

Catt looked from the delectable treat that she was eating to the blue eyes starring incredulously up at her. “You’ve got to be kidding me?!” That was when she heard it too, the knock then the buzz. “Aw, shit!” She gently unlatched the legs around her neck and removed them from her shoulders. Gray eyes studied her own naked, sweaty body then looked at Lil’s. “You gonna go get it? I don’t think whoever’s there is going away.”

Deep blue studied the ceiling. She could feel the slow blush working its way up her skin. She sighed again when her ears heated. Her legs felt like jelly and not even the firm kind. It was more runny like jelly tends to get when you leave it out too long. Glancing from under hooded eyelids, “Uhm, I don’t think I can walk. Can you, uh, get it?” She could see gray eyes immediately light with mirth and smugness. “No! Don’t even say it. Just go get the door!”

Catt chuckled. Bending over her prone lover, she kissed the red nose. “You’re too much. Don’t ever change.” Waiting until she got a smile in return, she hopped off the bed, mindful of the smell of sex and arousal that wafted with her. ‘Oh, well.’ Grabbing a robe, she blew a kiss as she made her way out the bedroom door to the living room.

****

Jean looked at the closed door with a frown then glanced at the obviously new car in her daughter’s driveway in confusion. ‘Hmm, her car is there,’ she looked at the old Honda, ‘then who’s car is that?’ She poised her hand to knock again when the door was wrenched open. “Lil, who?” Turning she looked up into gray eyes. Her brow scrunched further down in total confusion.

Catt noticed the resemblance almost right off. ‘Oh, shit!’ Her mind worked overtime, trying to think of something, anything to keep this from turning out bad. Like old habit, the coolness reasserted itself. “Uh, may I help you?”

Jean took in the robed form. The woman was beautiful, except for those cold eyes. Blue eyes continued to study the woman in front of her, noticing the sweat dripping from the woman’s forehead and the dampness of her hair. “I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to interrupt your shower. Do I have the right apartment? Does Lil live here?”

Catt pursed her lips. ‘There’s no way out of this. She’s gonna see Lil and know something’s going on. Ah, damn sweetie I know you didn’t want it like this. Things were going so good.’ Sighing, the blonde answered, “Y-yes she is. I’ll get her.” Catt pulled the door open wider, allowing the woman to enter. “Have a seat. Be right back.”

Ever astute, Jean sat on the couch and studied the apartment. It was different. Expensive looking paintings hung on the wall where movie posters used to be. A comfortable looking leather recliner huddled in the corner of the living room. There were fragile additions to the little knick knacks that adorned the shelves. She looked to the side to see what looked like a cherry wood cabinet that sported exorbitant looking china. The permanent scrunch seemed to have frozen her brow. ‘Where did she get the money for all this. It doesn’t even look like stuff that she would like.’ Like a stray afterthought that her mind had finally registered, she screamed to herself, ‘And who the hell was that woman over here this early in the morning?!’

Lil chuckled at the situation as she swung tired legs around to hang off the bed. Things were going so good between them. A playful rapport established itself once they had gotten passed the talking and the hiding. All of it seemed to have released a floodgate of passion. Lil smiled to herself, ‘Hell, I’ve probably done things that would make Gab blush.’

The smile asserted itself physically thinking of the strong link that existed between her sister and Tara. ‘I have that now. I have her now. Jamie loves her, and I. . .’ She leaned back onto the bed and covered her face as another blush threatened. Screaming her happiness into her hands, she giggled at her own giddiness. Jumping up, she heard quick footsteps heading back toward the bedroom.

Catt pushed the door open then fell back heavily against it with her hands flat against the cool wood. She bit her lip and starred at her lover, knowing the panicked look that was glowing in her eyes. The smile fell from Lil’s lips. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

Pulling her hands up, the blonde pointed to the vicinity of the living room. “Uhm, you might want to put some clothes on. I think your mother is out there.”

Deep blue widened in disbelief. Her mouth opened then closed then opened again. “WHAT!? Ohgodohgodohgod!” She ran around the room opening drawers and taking out clothes haphazardly. Lifting a foot, she attempted to pull on panties only to see the floor rushing up to meet her. “Ooof! Oww!” She turned over on her back and rubbed her chin as she slipped the underwear up her raised thighs.

Catt watched on in fascination.

Through the struggle with her clothes, the brunette continued to chatter. “Dammit! I didn’t want her to find out this way!” She passed a hand through dark locks and caught a whiff something. “Oh God, we even smell like sex!”

Catt licked her lips and hoped the older woman didn’t get too close to her face, knowing that something had probably dried on it and left its ashy remains.

“I can’t believe this!” She looked up and asked her lover, “Can you believe this?” Distracted gray eyes stared back at her. She pointed an accusing finger. “Are you even listening to me?” The finger poked her in the chest. “This effects you too!” Poke. “So don’t think you’re gonna hide!” Poke. Poke. “I need you out there!” Poke. Poke. Poke.

Catt looked down at the probing finger and wondered if she was going to have a bruise. A dusky nipple stood at attention under the robe as a testament to the area of the poke. She continued to look, trying to hide the suddenly growing smirk.

Contracting her brow, Lil looked down to see what her lover was staring at. “Hey, I need. . .” The poking finger skirted a little to the left and met pebbly flesh, albeit clothed. “Wha—” The brunette’s curious hands parted the robe to see nipples standing erect and waiting. Feeling the after effects of unspent passion, she traced the flesh with thumb and forefinger and watched it elongate even more. “Oh, my—” The fingers pulled slightly, and the action was rewarded with a hiss. Catt looked up, feeling the residual emotion too. Eyes met right before lips crushed each other in a searing kiss. They moaned simultaneously as tongues fought for entry. Lil threw her body into her lover’s and groaned as nipples scrapped sensuously. The kiss deepened and continued until she heard the distinct sound of her mother’s voice calling her name. “Lil?”

Tearing her mouth away, she replied breathlessly, “Coming mother!”

Gray eyes widened in an aroused haze right before a snort exited Catt’s swollen lips. Lil glanced back into stormy eyes at the strange sound. She raised a dark eyebrow when the woman under her started to chuckle. Her own mouth twitched, recognizing the pun. After a few seconds, they both started to giggle silently. The younger woman laid her head against her lover’s shoulders as the laughter subsided. The tension of the moment was broken for the time being. Lifting her head, she smiled before she brushed blonde bangs out of the way to kiss her forehead.

“Thanks.”

“Anytime.”

Backing away, Lil reached for her clothes. “Let’s get dressed and we’ll go out there together.”

Catt grabbed the small hand into her own before Lil walked completely away.

“Hey, no matter what happens. I’m here for the long haul.” Smiles were exchanged along with a few more kisses.

Feeling fidgety, Jean got up to walk around the living room. ‘Something is going on here.’ Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a door opening and closing. She watched as the two figures progressed down the hall, side by side. ‘And I’m going to find out what it is.’ Jean sat back on the couch waiting for her daughter to join her. To her surprise, Lil sat on the nearby loveseat, and the taller woman sat on the raised edge beside her. She looked from one to the other as whispers of speculation filled the back of her mind. ‘I’ve got to know.’ “Um, I haven’t been here in a while. Just got back from Terre Haute, so I though that I would pay a visit. Didn’t mean to wake you.”

“It’s okay mom. Is everything okay with Gab?”

Jean noticed the nervous lilt in her daughter’s voice, and she wasn’t going to ignore it. “They’re getting there. I didn’t come here to really talk about them. What’s been going on with you lately? You’ve been acting a tad secretive.” With a glance upward, she added, “Who is she and what’s with the new car and new things?”

Lil stiffened, and instinctively, blindly she reached for a familiar hand. Wrapping around it, she squeezed the flesh and disregarded the shocked look on her mother’s face. ‘Good old mom. You’ve never been one to beat around the bush. Well, neither am I.’ She looked up into stormy gray, searching and got a small nod and smile in return. It was enough. “Those are her things mom. Our things.” She pulled the hand to her lips and gave it a quick kiss. “This is Caitlin, my partner.”

Catt let the breath that she was holding loose in a gush. She had sounded so matter of fact, so confident that she couldn’t help but smile down at her. Lil looked up, feeling a weight lift off her shoulders. It was freeing as well as relieving. Gray twinkled down at her in what looked like admiration, and the young woman beamed back, mouthing the words, “I love you.”

Jean heard her heart thump in her ears and then she heard it stop. ‘Did I just hear her right? She did say partner, and the woman was wearing a robe when she answered the door. I—ohmygodohmygodohmygod! I can’t believe this!’ Confusion and astonishment flooded her body, causing her hands to clench into fist and her mouth to drop. Then there was only numbness.

Blue and gray tore away from each other to look at the woman seated on the couch. Lil waited for the blow up, but none came. There was just this look of utter bafflement. Lovers glanced at each other once more when no sound exited the older woman’s mouth. “Mom? Mom, are you okay?” Lil got up to kneel by her mother’s side. “Mom, look at me.” Similar blues clashed. “C’mon mom, talk to me.”

Jean’s mouth finally started to move as a jumble of words fell out. “I thought. . .how. . .are you sure?”

Lil turned to her lover, beckoning her with a hand to come join her. When the taller woman was at her side, she whispered, “Yes, mom we’re sure.”

Jean looked from one face to another, seeing the confidence shine in her daughter’s eyes and concern glowing in formally cold gray as the looked down at her. Still not getting enough reaction from the seated woman, Lil whispered up to her lover. “Catt, will you go get mom some juice or something?”

“Yeah, Sparky will do.”

Upon hearing the nickname, Jean’s eyes widened in further shock as they followed the blonde’s retreating back into the kitchen.

****

Jean discreetly looked at the couple out of the corner of her eye. They didn’t seem to be able to stop touching. It was down right distracting. A squeeze of a shoulder, a brush of the arm and a myriad of other tiny touches that screamed familiarity. They had retaken the loveseat. She guessed to give her space and time to think. Pretending to do just that, Jean closed her eyes. ‘How did it happen? How did I miss it? We’re their signs that screamed from both of them, and I missed it?’ The older woman’s heart clenched.

‘What kind of mother am I not to know my own children?’ Eyes opened as a thoughts bombarded her with each beat of her heart. She rubbed the glass, coating her hands with the condensation in hopes of slowing her racing heart and thoughts. ‘Is this serious?’ Jean glanced toward the couple, catching gray eyes that looked at her questioningly. She looked away quickly. They made a striking couple, all darkness and light. A perfect contrast, but she got the distinct feeling that the blonde was the one that had inhabited the dark, remembering the cold eyes that starred at her when the door opened. Still, there was something else in them that she couldn’t miss.

A fierce confidence glowed in the stormy eyes of the blonde. ‘Yes, it’s serious. I at least know my daughter that well, and I know that look too. It shines in Tara’s eyes. There is no awkwardness between them. They touch and glance at each other as though they had been doing it for a lifetime.’ Jean had to admit to herself that something in her heart was touched. Hadn’t she always wanted her children to be happy? She shook her head mentally. There was more involved here.

‘My grandchild.’

‘I want her to grow up normal. There will be so much that she would have to deal with. Pain, anger, and hate from people who don’t understand. Will she even accept this situation when she’s older? Her mother in love with another woman. Oh sweetheart, what have you gotten yourself into?’

Lil felt the fleeting touches of her lover, knowing that they were a form of reassurance because the silence was deafening. ‘I didn’t expect her to scream in delight and accept Catt into the family, but I expected more than glares our the corner of her eye. Mother what are you thinking? Look at us. Look at her. Can’t you see it? What exists between us covers us like a blanket. It’s that palpable, a connection so strong that it exists by itself. I don’t even see that with you and daddy. This scares me. I remember how you treated Gab when you first found out about her. Should I expect the same? Do you think of this as just another disappointment like when I got pregnant?’

The dark head hung. The day went from a sensual haze to possible devastation. She felt long fingers lift her chin. Gray studied violet blue in silent communication. Catt read the sadness that drooped in her lover’s eyes. She didn’t need to be told. With a finger, she traced a path from Lil’s nose to her chin, carefully outlining trembling lips on the way. She leaned in and whispered behind the long blonde hair that covered both of their features.

“Talk to her, so you both can find out what the other is thinking. I’m right here beside you, and I promise that I’m not going anywhere. Just promise me that you won’t either.”

Before pulling back, she kissed her lover’s ear and fought the smile that wanted to surface at the fine shiver that resulted.

Startled blue gazed back at her. ‘How could she think that I would leave. . .

“I wouldn’t—”

Lil was silenced by a well placed finger and urged on with a jerk of the blonde head.

“Later,” the blonde whispered.

Catt took the smaller hand in her own and squeezed it in support.

Lil glanced at the form of her mother and watched her play at sipping the juice. Imperceptibly, the brunette cleared her throat.

“Mom?” She waited until the other woman looked up. “Talk to me?”

Jean looked up, glancing from one woman to the other then swallowed. “I honestly don’t know what to say about this. I was in know way prepared, and I would have never suspected as what was going on with you.”

“I know, but I wanted to tell you when I thought I was ready. Things are so new with us. . .”

“When did this happen?”

“Um, we met in Terre Haute when I was staying with Gab for the holidays.”

She sat the glass on the nearby table. Seeing that her hands were shaking, she jerked them back and began to wring them to stop the involuntary motion. A small sliver of pain wedged in her heart. “So, again, everybody knew except me?”

Lil sighed in exasperation. “Mom, it’s not like that. We just didn’t know how you were going to take it,” she added softly. The steady squeeze of Catt’s hand kept her at an even kilt.

Jean laughed but without humor. How did you think I was going to take it. I find out not one daughter but both of them are gay? What am I supposed to think? How do you think this makes me feel? I raised children that I don’t know. I was blinded all this time,” she said her voice raspy. She ran a shaky hand through graying hair.

Again, the dark head hung, knowing what she was about to say was going to sting. “Can’t you see mom? This isn’t about you or how I was raised. It has nothing to do with you. This didn’t happen because you mistreated me, ignored me, or smothered me. it happened because it was supposed to.

Jean grabbed the glass again, needing something to do with her hands. They were shaking just a bit harder. “Despite—” Her voice came out in a hoarse croak. She sipped some of the juice. “Despite why or how it happened, I can’t say I condone this. There is more at stake than just the two of you.”

Lil almost crushed the fingers intertwined with her own. ‘Oh God, please don’t do this. Can’t you see mom that I need her?’ She swallowed and looked over at Catt with fear shining in her eyes. They gray twinkled back at her, smiling and loving. It was the strength she need to push on. Quietly but with supreme confidence, she added, “This isn’t going to end because you don’t condone it mother. I’m not going to let her go because you or dad don’t like it. She’s in my life now. She is my life.”

Jean looked at her daughter astonished by the reply. “What about Jamie? How can you subject your daughter to something so new that could be over with the drop of a hat?” The older woman tightened her grip on the glass.

“Mother look at us. I mean really look. Can’t you see it, feel it? I know you felt it around Gab and Tara. You told me as much.”

Jean lowered her eyes, refusing to answer. ‘Yes, I see it and feel it.’

“Catt loves Jamie, and you should see Jamie around her. You know that she doesn’t respond to just anybody.”

Jean shook her head. Lil just wasn’t getting it. “Do you know what she will have to face growing up? The pain you are going to put her through?”

Lil blinked and sucked in an audible breath before answering. “Don’t you think I know that mom? She’s my daughter. Despite what goes on in the world, I’m—we’re going to teach her to be strong and accepting. She’ll deal with it because we’re going to help her deal with it when the time comes. Look, mom, I know this isn’t easy to accept, and I’m not asking you to immediately welcome this with open arms, but it isn’t going to change just because you don’t like it. You’d rather I do what you say just to make you happy and leave myself miserable for the rest of my life?”

Jean looked into her daughter’s eyes, surprised by the question. “No, I want you to be happy,” she whispered. Her grip became even tighter on the glass.

“I am, mom. I am.” Lil turned to face her lover. The smile she got in return for her words made her breath catch. Catt glowed.

Jean wanted to loosen her grip on the glass, but she couldn’t. Her insides churned. She realized the anger, guilt, and the host of other emotions that she was feeling weren’t aimed at her daughter. They were focused within. Anger and guilt for not seeing her children for who they really are; for not being there; for not being able to support them in times of crisis. Her conscious whispered, ‘But isn’t this a time of crisis? Support her now. She was right when she said that it wasn’t about you.

‘But, I don’t know how,’ she answered herself. “You heard her. She doesn’t need my support now. She’s a woman that is more than capable of making her own choices.’

‘Then just be there when she needs you.”

‘I don’t know if I can.”

Jean proceeded to study the silent couple.

Lil continued to gaze into stormy gray. They said so much with just a twinkle or a change of shade. They spoke for her, making her forget that they were not alone.

“I love you,” they whispered.

With a soft caress of her lover’s cheek and a small smile, Lil answered back. “I know you do, and I’ll do anything to keep it that way.”

Gray eyes darkened belaying sadness. “I’m sorry that this isn’t working out. I feel that it’s my fault.”

Deep blue read the message perfectly. With a squeeze of her hand and an almost indiscernible shake of her head, Lil added. “No there’s nothing to be sorry for. We’re in this together. No matter what.”

Sad eyes lightened with a smile.

Jean swallowed. She felt as though she was intruding upon a private conversation. Deep down, she knew that they had said a lot with the few exchanges, but she just didn’t know what.

Just then, the quiet apartment was filled with a small cry followed by an insistent ‘ma!’ The couple grinned at each other, and Lil added by way of explanation to her mother, “That’s Jamie. I think that she’s ready to get up.” The brunette rose but was stopped by an elegant hand.

“No, I’ll get her.”

Without another word, Catt made her way toward the back. The bedroom door was already cracked. She peaked in and was immediately spotted by astute blue eyes. Jamie squealed in response. “Caty, Caty!”

The blonde smiled. She couldn’t help herself. “Good morning little one. Ready to get up?”

The child cooed. Reaching her hands up in the air, she made a constant open and closed fist motion that was an attempt to beg the blonde to pick her up. Catt did so without hesitation. Balancing the toddler on her hip, she reached back down to get a toy and a couple hours old, unfinished bottle. Small chubby hands grabbed at the bottle. Giving it to her, Catt looked down at the small form in her arms. Deep blue glanced right back at her. Her heart skipped a beat, and she did nothing to stop the sob that wrenched from her throat.

“I love you little one. I love you both. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.”

Placing a tiny kiss on the small forehead, she headed out the room back to the living area.

In the meantime, Lil glanced at her mother. Their eyes met and held.

“I know this is hard mom. Just try, please? She’s not going anywhere. She’s in my life to stay. I know this. I feel this.”

“I just don’t know, Lil. There’s so much more at stake here. . .” Her voice trailed off as the blond woman made her way into the living room with a cooing Jamie. The older woman’s thoughts scattered. The little girl clung to the blonde with tiny fingers wound in the woman’s hair. They looked so natural together like they belonged. She watched on as the woman sat beside her daughter.

Jamie reached out her hand to her mother. Lil leaned in, grinning, and gave the appendage a sloppy kiss. With the same hand, the child made a waving motion toward her grandmother, and got one in return. Jamie gurgled in delight then found a place back in the crook of the other woman’s arm. Catt leaned down and kissed the dark head once more. The blonde cleared her throat.

“Mrs. Howard? I have something to say.”

Lil grabbed her lover’s arm. “Catt, you—-”

Eyes met. “Shh, it’s okay. I need to do this.”

Lil nodded in acquiescence, and Jean waited.

“Mrs. Howard, I don’t know what kind of daughter you think you raised, but she has turned into a wonderful woman. She’s kind, honest, and her capacity for love and forgiveness changed my life. She’s taught me so much, and I’m still learning.” She paused at the feel of a soft hand patting her thigh. “I love her so much. I would give up anything and everything just to stay in her life. I didn’t know what love was before I met her. You see, I was kind of stumbling through life taking what I wanted and hurting people in the process.”

“I know that this may sound cliché, but I mean every word. When I met her, everything changed. I tried to push her away and forget her, but I just couldn’t. She forgave me for all the things I did and she loved me despite it all. As for Jamie, she is a part of Lil, and I can’t help but love her. I’m not good with babies, relationships, or speaking, but somehow it all works. If Lil raises Jamie to be half the woman that you raised her to be, I don’t think you will have much to worry about.”

The hand on her thigh squeezed again., and she gave a small smile of appreciation. Jean glanced at the woman expectantly. Realizing this, Catt added, Oh, um, I think that’s all that I have to say.”

Jean sucked in a deep breath. ‘Could she be right, and I just don’t see it? Oh God, I can’t be that blind. Can I? I suppose I can. I didn’t really see the love Tara has for my daughter until I took the time to get to know her. Maybe that what I need to do here.’ Confusion and emotion weighed heavily on her shoulders. ‘I just need to think.’ Her hand loosened around the glass.

Catt took the hand from her thigh and kissed the palm. Blue smiled into gray. Lil turned from her lover to look at her silent mother.

“Mom, I—-”

Her speech was interrupted by a surprised shriek from her lover and a squeal from her daughter.

“Uh-oh, Caty! Pee-pee!”

Three sets of blue eyes riveted on the blonde, who fidgeted as warm fluid penetrated her clothing. Under the continuous stares, Catt could feel herself do something that hardly ever happened. Blood slowly crept its way up her neck to her face and ears, giving her face a nice red hue. Lil bit her lip, but the smallest Howard was the first to giggle. She was followed by her mother who chuckled more at the look on her lover’s face than the situation. Jean added light, reluctant laughter of her own.

The littlest Howard had put a crack in some very thick ice.

Catt turned to the younger woman giving her a mock scowl that quickly turned into a crooked grin.

“Um, I’m going to go mop up.” She nodded at Jean and got up taking the still giggling Jamie with her.

Lil watched them go and covered her mouth as Jamie continued to shout, “Uh-oh pee-pee,’ as they made their way down the hall. Mother and daughter glanced at each other continuing to smile at the child’s antics. Jean was the first to look away.

Finally, she sat the glass of juice on the table. “Uh, Lil, I can see what I think isn’t going to change anything, but I’ve seen enough to know that she cares about both you and Jamie. Beyond that, I don’t know. I’m going to need some time to sort through this. What she said really made me think. There is a lot I need to come to terms with concerning my own beliefs and feelings.” Jean rose from the chair. “I-I’m going to go now, but I want to get to know her and you.”

Lil followed her mother to the door, placing a hand on the nearest shoulder as they walked. Once there, Jean turned engulfing her daughter in a quick, tight hug.

“Mom, I think I understand, and thank you.”

The older woman gave her daughter a ghost of a smile and disappeared into the brightness of day. Lil watched her mother get in, start the car, and followed it down the street. She closed the door softly. In just a few hours, so much had changed. She didn’t know if it was for the bad or good, but the one good thing was that they were out in the open. No more secrets. The brunette rolled her shoulders, enjoying the new lightness. Deep blue looked down the empty hall when she heard a squeal then throaty laughter. The sounds beckoned her, so she followed them.

Pushing the half opened door wider, she walked quietly into the room. Half way in, she stopped and smirked at the sight. Jamie lay on the bed naked as the day she was born with the blonde leaning over her. She tugged and played with the silky strands that were within her reach. Catt cooed at the toddler before lowering her head to the tiny stomach and blowing. The rude noise that resulted made the child squeal in delight and her mother giggle in amusement.

Catt looked up at her lover with shining eyes. Lil shook her head and made her way toward the bed. “You two together are something else.”

The blonde reached out a hand, and the younger woman took it. “No, Sparky, the three of us are together are something else.”

Lil laughed out loud as a big happy bubble burst in her heart. She sat on the bed beside the blonde.

“Yeah, I guess we are.” She paused. “Quite the interesting day. Full of surprises. Makes you wonder what tomorrow will be like.”

“Mmm, don’t know, but I think we’ll be able to deal with whatever comes. Don’t you?”

Their gazes locked. Lil leaned in, brushing tempting lips gently. “Oh, yeah.”
Story #10: Giving In Gracefully
Lil loved her daughter, Jamie. She really did, but at this moment in time, the brunette understood why her mother didn’t take Gabrielle and her on road trips. Kids became evil when they were locked up for more than a few minutes. Lil heard another, “VROOM, VROOM!”, and Jamie’s bottle flew past her head for the umpteenth time in thirty minutes to land on the mat beside her feet.

The commute from Gary to O’Hare airport in Chicago took all of forty-five minutes on a good day, but today wasn’t one of those. Traffic was back to back this afternoon, and she had barely even made it off the Borhman Highway. ’This is another thing you have to make up to me, Catt,’ she said to herself with an evil grin. The car in front of her moved up, and she was able to drive a whole inch before stopping again. Of all the reasons for a road trip, at least this one had meat to it. Catt had been in Philly for a week, missing their first Valentine’s Day. The flowers and sexy phone calls had helped, but they paled in comparison to sparkling gray eyes and silky blonde hair. The flowers made her heart ache, spurring her to buy a gift in return that would ensure that both Jamie and her would never be far from the blonde’s heart.

Now, she was coming home. The brunette smiled at the word, home. It was such a little one, but it meant so much, after all that they had been through with the doubts and secrets and all they were going through now with Lil’s parents. The four letter word meant everything. At home, there was just the three of them in a world where no one could interfere. The ringing of the phone meant nothing and neither did a knock on the door, for those were just temporary. Home is where she wanted them right now, but as she drove forward another inch, it began to look like they were not getting there anytime soon. Somewhat deflated by the delay, Lil leaned an elbow against the top of the door and rested her chin against her hand and stared at the forever deceptive Indiana sun, hanging low in the sky.

“VROOM, VROOM!”

Dark blue eyes threatened to roll upward.

“Ba-ba, momma!”

Lil sighed and gave the traffic the once over before bending down to search for the bottle. Yep, it was still crawling along. With her forehead in an uncomfortable position against the steering wheel, she searched with her hands until deft fingers closed around a slimy, rubbery nipple. Not even bothering to look in front of her, Lil turned to her daughter who beamed lovingly at her from the car seat. “Well, hello to you too, sweetie.” Chubby hands reached out for the bottle. Lil raised an eyebrow. “Are you smiling at me or this?” She held the bottle up, only to hear an excited coo. “Ahh, I see. I really should get you off these you know?” Chuckling, she swore Jamie’s grin fell a little bit. Lil wiped the nipple off with a handy towel, and gave her daughter what she wanted. Turning back, she was surprised to see that the red Corsica in front of her had migrated forward more than a few feet. Feeling a little excited, Lil moved up too as the Corsica continued its trek. The driver suddenly hit his brakes, causing a curse to leave the brunette’s lips as her head jerked forward with the abrupt stop. She blew her horn in anger only to growl silently in mild exasperation when a, “BEEP, BEEP!” came from the backseat. ‘Aaargh, I’m coming baby. Just hold on. I’m coming.’

****

Catt sat in the hard plastic chair with one hand against her forehead and the other with a white knuckled grip around a newspaper. The next man who walked up and asked her out for coffee was going to get swatted on the head with the rolled up print. The airport was loud, teeming with people, and getting on her nerves. Her gray power suit was wrinkled, and she felt the beginnings of a headache. Factoring in all of this, the blonde glanced hopefully at the entrance for the hundredth time, hoping to see a familiar face. Nothing. The week had been long, and each minute she was sitting here, it got longer. ’I miss them so much.’ Her smile was a flash of white as she recalled the last time she’d really seen Lil and Jamie.

The bed had seemed like the perfect place to be on a rainy, cold morning. Her suitcases were safely tucked under the bed, while the three of them lay in it. Jamie laid between them before she crawled on top of the blonde.

“I think somehow she knows that you’re leaving.” The bed rocked minutely as the brunette sit up on one elbow. Silently, she studied her lover and her child. Unable to help herself, Lil found herself leaning over the blonde, staring into gray eyes while her daughter pulled on pajama tops a few inches away. With delicate fingers, Lil wiped blonde bangs from the older woman’s eyes. “And she’s going to miss you just like I will.”

Upon looking into blue eyes, Catt felt cherished and important. She had yet to get used to the feeling and closed her eyes at the rush of emotion that started from her belly and worked its way up. Gray eyes opened, sparkling with things that she hadn’t learned to say, but Lil still read them perfectly. Leaning down, the brunette placed a gentle kiss of understanding on her lover’s forehead. “I love you, ” she whispered.

“Love you more,” was murmured back with quiet confidence. Lil gave her lover a toothy smile. “We’ve gotten kind of cheesy don’t you think?”

The blonde chuckled. “Yes, but we’re not in the class of your sister and Tara quite yet.”

“Thank God!”

They both watched in fascination as Jamie inched her way up until she was face to face with the blonde. “Well, hello there little one.” Catt snickered as the child placed a sloppy wet kiss on her chin.

“Momma.” she cooed and placed another kiss near the same spot as before. Catt’s eyes widened in surprise.

“Did you hear. . .”

“Oh my God, yes I did! I wish I had a camcorder! That’s my girl!”

Catt grinned and swallowed as a big ball of happy lodged itself in her stomach. She enjoyed its weight, and prayed that it would only get heavier. They talked, tussled, and laughed until the time came to get to the airport. With a brief kiss on the cheek, the blonde was on her way.

The whole week was made hectic by business but made better by the sound of the brunette’s voice over the telephone. They laughed, and Catt’s libido soared at the sounds of moans and little whimpers when the talks got naughty. For the first time in years, Valentine’s Day had left her feeling lonely. She’d poured her heart into a card with a dozen roses and an emotional phone call that had left them both wanting, aching.

The blonde looked around the airport and smiled to no one in particular as she fingered the camcorder in the unzipped carry on bag. ’I’ll make it up to you, Sparky. Promise.’ Her fingers traveled to the inside of her coat, outlining the small box. Her smile got bigger.

****

Lil smiled as she peered at the sign on the side of the road: five more miles. “We’re almost there sweetie,” she said to her daughter as the bottle sailed by yet again. Still, she talked on. “I bet she can’t wait to see us. Maybe we can have a nice dinner together, and later. . .” Her voice trailed off, and Lil bit her lip to keep a lecherous smile from forming. “Maybe Grandma can take you for the night.” A frown tugged on her lips as she sighed. “Not without giving me a lecture, she won’t.” Things had mellowed out since her mother’s last infamous visit, but something was still amiss. She still hadn’t told her father, and her mother was constantly asking a myriad of questions about how Jamie reacted to Catt and her being together. Jean had just called the other day asking the same questions as before, as if the answers would change.

“Well, does she act differently now that Caitlin is gone?”

“Mom, she’s not gone. She’s just away for a few days, and of course she acts differently. Jamie misses her.” The brunette could feel her irritation growing.

“Does she go to her? Play with her?”

Lil couldn’t keep the exasperation out of her voice. “Damn it Mom! Is that what you’re so afraid of? That she’ll grow up like me? How do you explain Gabrielle and me then? We certainly didn’t get it from you!”

There was a pause.

“It’s not that Lil. It’s a combination of things. How are people going to treat her growing up when they find out. . .”

“Oh, Mom, you don’t have any faith in me do you? Don’t you think we’re going to raise her to be strong, to come to us and other people that she loves when trouble comes?”

“It’s easier said than done.”

Lil let out a bark of humorless laughter. “You don’t trust me at all do you? Think about this. I can only teach her what I have learned, and whatever I’ve learned came from you.” The conversation had ended abruptly after that with forced good-byes.

Back in the present, Lil pulled into a parking space and turned off the ignition. ’I hope you’re thinking about it, Mom.’ The brunette exhaled, disturbing curly bangs. ’I can’t think about this right now.’ Lil got out of the car and headed for the backseat. “Come on kiddo. Let’s go get your mom and take her home.

****

Feeling compelled to, Catt looked over at the entrance/exit again. First, she blinked to make sure she was seeing correctly. Then, her eyes widened as a lone, slender figure, carrying a baby, waved in her direction. Catt’s movements were almost automatic. She zipped her bag, threw the paper down, and jumped up to head in Lil’s direction intent on meeting her half way. With each step, the blonde’s smile got bigger, broader, and she watched in heady fascination as the brunette broke into a light jog. Jamie’s giggling met the exec’s ears, and she stopped as they both ended in her arms with a resounding, “Oof.” Lil held onto her lover’s neck with a vice like grip while Jamie, with a squeal, managed a good grip on several blonde strands.

She placed the tiniest of kisses on the blonde’s neck before hesitantly stepping back and giving her lover the once over with eyes brimming with excitement. The brunette used a free, searching hand to touch sculpted cheek bones, push back wisps of blonde, and tug on the older woman’s collar as if to make sure her lover was all there, as she breathlessly explained, “Um sorry we’re–so late. Traffic was a booger. Missed you so much. ” Lil threw in another hug for good measure. Catt chuckled at the excited banter from mother and daughter. This is what it was all about, coming home. It was all that kept her going when pompous old men droned irritatingly on and on about their money and power, knowing that she had something wonderful, steady, and mind-blowing at home. With a smile firmly in place, she finally addressed the eager pair. “Hey you two. I guess someone’s happy to see me, huh?” She barely resisted the urge to chuckle as Jamie squealed yet again before shoving some strands of her hair into a wet mouth. “Well, I missed you too.” She leaned in and placed a brief kiss on the child’s forehead. Turning to her lover, she whispered, “You want one too?” Instead of an answer, Lil leaned forward and brushed her lover’s lips with her own. Catt’s eyes automatically closed with the soft, moist invasion, and her insides quaked at the gentleness. She sighed as the cherished feeling returned.

Lil broke the kiss with a crooked grin. After a week of dealing with her mother and the loneliness, all was right with the world. “I’ve been wanting to do that since the second after you left.” Gray and blue got lost in each other as people passed by, and the minutes ticked on. This was the way to reconnect: touch, taste, and sight. The longer they stood there time healed itself, and the week apart became insignificant to the time spent together in the past, present, and the future. With a blink, Lil broke their connection and established another one as she grabbed her lover’s free hand. “C’mon let’s get home.”

****

Lil pushed the now unlocked door open with her hip with Jamie in tow and Catt behind her. “So, she learned some new sounds?” The blonde asked slightly exasperated.

“Uh-huh. You didn’t like her little serenade?” The brunette sniggered. “It’s only fair that she do if for the other mommy too.”

Catt squinted, giving her lover a warning look, which only made her laugh harder. “Cute, Sparky. Real cute.” Lil continued to giggle as she sat Jamie down in the play area.

With her back still turned, the younger woman added, “Sorry, baby. I couldn’t help myself. Why don’t you go put your stuff up? When you come back, I’ll fix us a glass of wine, a little dinner, and you can tell me about your trip. How does that sound?” She turned her head slightly, waiting for an answer.

Catt observed the bent over form and decided she liked that position along with the picture it was presenting now. She envisioned long legs flexing and saw the slacks pull tight against the round, firm bottom. Unable to help herself, the exec tip-toed up behind her lover and engulfed her in a hug. Catt let out something close to a purr as she nuzzled dark, fragrant curls and hands encountered the warmth seeping from her lover’s clothed torso. Lil let out an excited yelp. Then commented, “Mmm, I missed hearing that sound.”

The blonde’s smirk was slow and crooked. “What sound would that be, love?” She purred again close to Lil’s ear.

“Oh yeah, that’s the one.” Her voice was husky, thick.

Going by sensual feeling alone, Lil slid her hands over her lover’s and brought them up to her breasts. She guided them to a squeeze and whimpered when the appendages obliged. A deep rumble started from Catt’s chest and came out as a languid moan. “I missed the feel of these. Not the same over the phone,” the blonde added breathlessly while nibbling on a tempting earlobe.

The interlude was interrupted by a cheerful squeal of, “Momma!” They both jumped and let out a bark of laughter. “Think she’s telling us to save that for later.”

The exec agreed but couldn’t hide the mirth in her voice, “Uh-huh. You think?”

Lil gave her lover a mock backhand against the stomach. “Anyways, which one of us do you think she was talking to?”

“Don’t know.” The blonde further wrinkled her suit as she bent down. “Hey little one. How ya doin?” Small but chunky arms reached out. “Momma!” Catt’s heart stopped then burst into a million pieces as pride, love, and a million other emotions pummeled it. A flush heightened her features and a broad smile split her face. “C’mere sweetie. Momma’s back now.”

Lil absorbed the scene with emotion clogging her throat. Everything fit now. All the puzzle pieces that she tried to find places for came together in this woman. Complete. The word reverberated, making the various emotions escalate. Why couldn’t her mother see that this woman completed both their lives? Her daughter flourished and grew what seemed like everyday. Why couldn’t she see that? Lil turned as she covered her mouth with her hand, in an attempt to keep a sob from escaping.

Catt caught something anyway. Straightening up with Jamie in tow, she looked at the hunched back of her partner. “Sparky? What’s wrong?” The blonde reached out a hand to touch and ended up turning the other woman around. “Aww, baby. What’s wrong?” The sad look in the brunette’s eyes was almost her undoing.

Feeling there was nothing to hide from the woman she loved, Lil let her fears and questions spill from her mouth. “I don’t understand. Why does she accept Gab and not me? I’m so happy for the first time– really happy.” Catt reached out again, bringing the other woman within the circle of her arms. Jamie tugged on her mother’s sweater, and as if sensing her mood, the child began to cry. The blonde shushed her with gentle sounds and rocking. She glanced down at the dark head against her chest. “Did she call or something?”

The answer was muffled but still understandable. “Yeah, day before yesterday. I just want. . .”

“I know. Just give it some time. There’s a child involved here, and it’s making her wary. Just give her time to see.”

Lil wrapped her hands around the gray lapels and burrowed in deeper, letting the sound of her lover’s heart beat calm her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to bring this up. I just wanted to be with you, but seeing you two together made me think about all the things she was saying. She is so wrong Catt. So wrong. I just hope that I gave her something to think about last time we talked.”

“Knowing you, hon, I’m sure you did.” Catt chuckled in an attempt to lighten the mood. It did.

“Well, I didn’t curse at her or anything. Not really.” More laughter followed.

“You’re something else, Sparky.”

Instead of answering, Lil turned her head toward her daughter. Jamie reached out a tiny hand and pulled on her mother’s nose. “I’m okay, sweetie. You can let go now.” But, the little fingers found their way inside nostrils. “Gahh! Stop that Jamie!” The little girl giggled as Lil gently removed invading fingers.

Catt couldn’t help herself. She threw back her head and laughed, heartily. These two brought some much into her life: love, compassion, and laugher. The latter had become just as important as the others. “Come on you two let’s get something to eat. I’m starving here. Oh,” the blonde pinched her lover’s nose. “I’ve got something for you later.”

The brunette smiled cryptically. “Got something for you too.”

****

Dinner went by in a flash as chicken-rice casserole was consumed and chased by a half bottle of wine in an attempt to get where they were now, the bedroom. Bare feet rubbed as Catt recounted her dealings with some of her clients. Jamie played between them before finding her favorite spot on top of the blonde. The exec had long since disregarded her suit, laying comfortably in a silk camisole and tap pants. Lil settled for her normal sleeping and lounging attire of a t-shirt and shorts.

Catt rubbed Jamie’s back as she spoke, “I swear, Sparky. You wouldn’t think people that high up would be so incompetent. The people I work with here are much better, thank God.”

Lil had her head propped up on one arm, glancing over at her lover. “Mmm, so it’s fate that you found your way over here. No one needs that much stress on a constant basis.”

“No, I don’t. I could have ended up being a bear to you two, and that’s the last thing I want.”

“Oh, stop it. I’ve never seen you mean. Well, except for that one time—”

“Lil, trust me on this. I didn’t used to be a nice person at work or personally. I didn’t care what I was feeling. I just never gave into it, until you. I guess you made it okay to feel.”

The brunette leaned forward and kissed a soft cheek. “Well, I’m glad you let me in.”

The blonde smiled as she felt the kiss. Going back to Lil’s last statement, Catt turned to her lover and decided to comment on it. “I did everything but give into you gracefully, and I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

A dark brow quirked, “I call it a necessary battle to get where we are now.”

The exec’s brow wrinkled. “Mmm, maybe.” She paused, looking at the younger woman’s expression. “You know. You’ve been hanging around Tara entirely too long. That eyebrow thing is hers.”

Lil pouted. “Yeah, but it looks a lot cuter on me. On her, it just looks. . .”

“Rakish?” The blonde finished for her.

Lil laughed. “Yeah, but it fits her somehow. She can be quite intimidating when she wants to be.”

A slow smile spread over the older woman’s features, “If you say so. . .oof!” She felt the pillow graze her head and heard the delighted squeals of Jamie. The blonde chuckled as she pulled the pillow away. “I was just kidding!”

The pout was back, “I know that, but I thought you deserved that for picking with me!”

“Aww, sweetie. C’mere.” Lil accepted the brief kiss of apology, and the whispered words of love.

They talked for what seemed like hours, until a dead weight on her chest made Catt look down at the little girl. She put an elegant finger to her lips then pointed downward. The blonde mouthed, “Sleep.” Lil nodded as her lover slowly moved from the bed with her quarry. “I’ll go put her in bed,” the exec whispered. They had, since Catt first moved in, put the child in the spare bedroom across the hall to keep curious eyes from adult activity. The adjustment had been strange and difficult, but Jamie got used to it before the both of them did.

As soon as the tall form disappeared from the bedroom, Lil turned and reached for the top drawer on the bedside chest. Hearing footsteps returning, she hid the small box under her pillow and glued a smile she hoped wasn’t suspicious on her face. “Hey, alone at last.”

Catt eyed her lover speculatively. She’s up to something. “Uh-huh.” A slow, sensual smile lit her face. “Whatever shall we do with ourselves?”

The brunette’s brow lifted again. “Don’t know, but I bet you have some ideas.”

Gray eyes darkened, she let out lecherous chuckle. Her crawl upon the bed was slow and languorous.

Lil swallowed as the blonde made her way up her body. Blue eyes lowered almost imperceptibly, only to see inside the camisole where full breast could be seen clearly swaying with each movement. Cocking her head to the side brought into view turgid tips brushing against silk. The brunette felt her mouth water at the sight. The secondary response was the tip of a pink tongue wetting dry lips. Lil glanced upward at the feel of silky hair caressing her face and saw two stormy gray eyes peering back. “You like what you see?”

“Oh God, yes.” Lil replied breathlessly. Gripping the covers under her, Catt leaned forward and brushed moist lips with the tip of her tongue. She moaned surprised when another wet member met her own. Arching her back, torsos met as did hips, as another whimper permeated the quiet. The blonde pulled back slowly and grinned at the sound of protest leaving her lover. “Shh, just wanna show you something.” One long arm reached for the chest on her side of the bed. Opening the drawer, Catt pulled out the camcorder. “Just thought we could have other uses for this besides taping Jamie.” She paused, looking into hooded blue eyes. “Are you game?”

Feeling slightly naughty, Lil gave her lover a sexy grin. “I am if you are.” Moving back and getting up on her knees, the blonde whispered with a wicked smirk, “Good. Now, do something for me?” Now sitting up on her elbows, Lil allowed the grin to lengthen, and excitement oozed its way through her blood, heating it. “Anything.”

Catt felt her breath catch then leave again at her lover’s submission. In three words, she exerted her power in a heady rush. “Strip for me.” The request, made in breathy urgence, somehow, for some reason, went straight to the brunette’s groin. She moaned at the sudden loss of blood to her head and the tingling, now, between her legs. “Anything,” she whispered. Long dark hair kissed the pillow behind the younger woman as she slowly sat up. Torturing them both, Catt inched backwards to the far end of the bed with her attention split between the playback on the camcorder screen and shining blue. “Come on baby. Don’t be shy.”

On shaky legs, Lil stood up on the mattress then put her hands out to steady herself. She peered at the blonde from under hooded eyes. She’s loving this. With her mind now set, Lil began to move in a slow grind to imaginary music. Her arms swayed high above her head as hips swayed from side to side then up and down. The brunette closed her eyes in fantasized pleasure when her hands wound their way through thick, curly hair. She then moaned as her own appendages found their way from her neck to rapidly swelling breasts.

She palmed the perky mounds, feeling her own nipples straining hard against her fingers, and bit her bottom lip when each breast pulsated as the result of calculated squeezing to the rhythm of the music in her head. Lil drew blood from the bite as busy fingers pulled and plucked hardened, sensitive flesh. Seconds later hands found themselves grazing her abdomen. Catching the edges of the t-shirt, Lil pulled it up to bare flesh for the first time. Still swaying, she lifted the shirt over her head and threw it in the blonde’s direction. Deft hands found their way back to now freely bouncing breasts, covering and mapping them.

Having caught the shirt, Catt brought it to her face and inhaled the scent. That in combination with the sight before her caused a moan to spill from full lips. “Beautiful,” she whispered giving the brunette her undivided attention and ignoring the camcorder in her hands. The blonde took a deep breath, only to whimper when she realized that it was impossible. Her breath left her body in hungry gasps. The arch of her lover’s neck, indention of collar bones, and the tight bud of nipples were flaunted with a shimmy, making the exec ache with the sudden rush of liquid between her legs. The blonde’s stomach clenched as the rush turned into a faucet as a result of the next display. Gray eyes followed her lover’s fingers inside the warm cavern of her own mouth.

Catt’s moan was explosive as wet, skilled fingers covered berry like nipples with moisture, making them glisten before they disappeared between waiting lips. The brushing of silk against her own swollen breasts served as an extra torture. Her heart raced along with the blood shooting through veins landing in her throbbing center. The exec squeezed her thighs for relief and looked on riveted.

Blue eyes had opened long ago at the sound of her lover’s first mew of pleasure. She watched as the blonde’s chest heaved with each move her body made. Gray eyes burned her skin setting nerve ends on fire. Lil realized that the hands touching her had ceased to be her own some time ago. Each touch had become that of her lover, and her body responded to each one. With each sway and grind of her hips, engorged nether lips rubbed tantalizingly against the cotton of her brief shorts, clinging damply to slick thighs. The urge to cup her aching mound was strong, so she didn’t resist. Breathing raggedly, Lil slid both hands between her legs and ground down hard against them. Long curly hair spilled down her naked back as she threw her head back in a sensual moan. Pleasure exploded between her legs, but it only served to intensify the need.

The growling purrs from her audience spurred Lil on as she tugged the plaid shorts down her hips. Now naked, she turned, exposing firm buttocks. Bending over and widening her stance, she continued to sway her hips back and forth and gave her lover an uncensored view of glistening pubic hair and swollen lips. It was only a peek. The brunette spun around subjecting the blonde to her naked front. The look of fierce desire in stormy gray was her undoing. In a desperate move intended to relieve the mounting ache, Lil plunged a hand between her legs and rubbed the sensitive nodule furiously with expert fingers. Immediately, she cried out in wild abandon, and instinctively brought the other hand to her breasts where nipples where tugged forcefully.

Catt watched in fascination. Never had she seen her lover this uninhibited. Excitement had turned into monumental arousal. The smell of it wafted up to her nose, causing her nostrils to flare. The sound of the brunette’s fingers playing in her own wetness sent jolts of pleasure down her back to settle in her groin, making it feel alive and hungry.

She let the hunger take over.

A deep rumble in her chest exited as a growl. Feeling strangely motivated, the blonde exec got to her feet and made her way around the bed to end up face to face with firm cheeks puckered as a result of the owner’s grueling work. Knowing that the brunette had not seen or heard her, Catt sat the camcorder down, still running, on the little desk by the bed. In a hurried motion, she divested herself of clothing.

Eager hands found their way around the brunette’s waist. Lil yet out a yelp of surprise as she landed on the bed on her hands and knees. Then, she moaned as heat enveloped her body from behind. Molding her body to her lover’s, Catt whimpered at the feel of sweaty flesh on flesh. Hands that were idle a second ago, found purchase on swaying breasts. As she had seen her lover do earlier, Catt pulled on the turgid tips, loving the way they swelled and hardened on her fingertips. Lil arched and pushed back into the body behind her, causing a moan to burst from the blonde’s lips as tight, ripe flesh ground against her lap. As a result, she reciprocated the movement.

Lil gasped at the feel of hot, moist flesh against her buttocks. She jumped at the sound of her lover’s husky voice so near her ear. “Do you like this? Me riding you like this?” Her tongued snaked out to flick an earlobe.

Lil’s whole body was one pulsating heap of raw nerves, and she had barely been touched. The puff of air against her ear the heat of the body against hers simply multiplied things. She heard the questions from far away, and her stunted brain finally processed them. “Yes! Oh, yes!”

Knowing what her voice did to her lover, Catt pushed the envelope, wanting her as wild as she was before. “Do you like touching yourself?”

Lil whimpered. With just the sound of her voice, the brunette was dripping again. “Yesss!”

Feeling her own wetness triple and her stomach clench in pleasurable knots at a sudden thought, the exec pushed on. “Open for me. Touch yourself for me.”

Lil’s breath came in helpless pants. “Anything. . .for you.”

The blonde backed away and moved a little to the left to allow her lover’s legs to widen. She hunched her body over the brunette, desperate to keep contact.

Instead of keeping on hand planted on the bed, Lil reached out for the head board and garnered a good grip. She slid her hand down the line of her torso, past pubic hair, and parted swollen lips. Once she touched engorged flesh, the reaction was instantaneous. “Oh God. Oh God, yea!” Lil pulled at the head board as she threatened to topple over. It was too much, and she was so much wetter than before. She assaulted the nodule with firm, circular strokes. Each instance of pleasure made her rub harder, faster.

Catt sobbed at the sound of her, the smell of her, and her own ache had become intolerable. Her flesh throbbed and twitched, silently begging for release. Getting in place directly behind quivering buttocks, the blonde reached and spread her swollen lips. Her moan was loud and long as she mounted her lover’s left cheek. Well lubricated, she humped against the obliging flesh. The blonde cried out as Lil pushed back against her, providing delicious friction.

With one knee on the bed and the other leg bent at an angle, Catt pulled the brunette into her, using a hand against her lover’s waist and her shoulder as leverage. The room was alive with harsh breathing and sensuous moans. For the blonde, it wasn’t enough. Something was missing. She wanted to feel it: Lil’s insides pulsing around her, gripping and milking her in pleasure. Using the hand planted on her lover’s waist, Catt let it trail down the back of a thigh and over the slick inside.

Lil squeezed her eyes shut, absorbing the feeling of the body behind her, on top of her. She felt the wet, pebbled flesh brushing against her, and her own efforts between her legs doubled. For a reason the brunette could not fathom, that act alone pushed her closer to the edge.

Maybe it was the fact that Catt was taking what she wanted, what she needed. Maybe it was the incoherent sounds coming from her lover’s mouth, or maybe it was just the feel of the blonde’s soppy sex dragging over her skin. Maybe it was a combination of them all. She didn’t know or care as she continued to concentrate on the feelings shooting from various places in her pelvic area: the hand trailing up her thighs, the fingers caressing her center, and the moist heat behind her. Vulgar expletives fell from her lips as her lover’s fingers rimmed her opening. Time stopped then sped up again with a vengeance when playful fingers finally entered her to the hilt. “Fuck, yea!” Lil backed into them, grinding and riding them as she was being ridden.

Catt threw back her head and yelled at the ceiling at the feel of moist heat encasing her hand. Her body hummed like a tightly drawn electrical wire. The words from Lil’s mouth and the hungry moves of her body snapped the wire in two. The thrust of her hips became quick and hard as those of her fingers went deep and relentless. Pleasure piled thick and syrupy in her belly gravitating outward with each stroke. Lightening hit her spine helping things along. With what would be her last coherent words, she begged Lil, “Come with me.” The head board banged against the wall as the bodies on the bed moved with furious abandon. Hearing her lover’s plea was all the incentive needed, Lil pressed and stroked wet, wrinkled fingertips against her clitoris in quick succession, one, two, three more times then screamed as the vibrations of orgasm spread encompassing her whole sex and everything around it. Lil fell forward and the groaning blonde followed her with still gyrating hips.

Sometime later, Catt found strength enough to roll over. With limbs that felt like jelly, she wrapped an arm around her lover, who found her way on top of her. The blonde wiped the sweaty bangs out of her face and whispered in a raw voice. “Hey, I love you.”

Lil burrowed further into her lover’s chest before answering, “Mmm, love you too.”

Deciding to take advantage of the situation, the blonde added, “Well, if you love me will you reach over and turn the camcorder off?”

A blue eye opened. She did not just say that! “Um, you didn’t tape all of that did you.”

A smirk turned up a corner of Catt’s mouth. “Uh-huh.”

The other blue eye opened, and they both widened in surprise. She wanted to raise her head but didn’t have the energy. “It better not leave this house. Ever. Even if you have to go on another long trip.”

Catt could feel the pout in her voice, but she couldn’t help it. “Oh, come on! It will help me get through it.”

Lil thought about that for a minute and decided, “Well, I’ll think about it.”

“Well, that’s encouraging.” The blonde paused. “So, are you going to turn it off?”

“Um, that would be no. I don’t think I can move.”

They both giggled.

“Well I got something else for you under my pillow, but I don’t think I can move either,” Catt added.

The giggles turned to laughter.

“You know. Great minds think alike cause that’s where I’m hiding you gift.” Lil told her lover.

“You first,” they said simultaneously then dissolved into more peels of laughter.

“Okay, okay. I’ll go first give me a minute.” Lil rose up allowing the blonde freedom of movement. The exec turned on her side after searching fingers found their prize. She took it out of its box and stared at the diamond. Looking back over her shoulder with a smile, she murmured, “Okay. Close your eyes and hold out you hand. No, not that one silly. The other one.” The exec took in the brunette’s eager features and without another delay, slid the ring on the appropriate finger. Feeling suddenly shy, Catt whispered, “Um, happy Valentine’s Day.”

Lil opened her eyes and looked down at the rather large diamond laid in white gold. She blinked at it then screamed. “Oh my God! It’s beautiful!”

The blonde grinned at the display. “Um, well I wanted to get you something that shows that I’m committed to you for as long as you want me. I hope you’ll want me forever because I don’t see my life without you.”

Lil squealed again and wrapped her arms around her lover’s neck in a crushing hug. “IloveyouIloveyouIloveyou!” She pulled away and kissed the blonde breathless. Breaking the kiss, Lil finished the sentence, “And you’re not going anywhere. You’re stuck with us missy.” Blue eyes were bright and sparkling with happiness. “I want to show you that we will be there with you no matter where you are.” She turned away for a second then back. “Can you turn around please and lift your hair up.” Catt did as she was told. Giddy with excitement, Lil reached in front of her lover and wrapped the gold, hand carved locket with chain around her neck. With shaking fingers, she clasped the two ends together. Kissing the blonde head, she whispered, “Open it, and you’ll see that we’re always on your heart.”

Catt looked down at the intricately carved piece of jewelry before taking it in between her fingertips. She opened the locket and gasped at the picture of a smiling Jamie and Lil staring back at her. Everything that mattered was right there in the palm of her hand. She turned around, allowing her lover to see the emotion shining in her eyes. Hot tears made a path down her cheeks. “I’ll never be able to tell you how much you two mean to me.”

Lil leaned forward. “Yes you will. I see it every time you look at us.” With gentle lips, the brunette kissed away the tears then kissed each eyelid before finding her way to quivering lips. The kiss was one of understanding born in love. Lil mapped and devoured her lover’s mouth like she had her heart, leaving the blonde aching for more.

“Mama ba-ba!”

Despite Jamie’s cries, they moved apart slowly, grinning unabashedly at each other. Catt murmured, “I’ll get her.” The blonde grabbed a robe as she made her way to the door, and Lil sat up and watched from under hooded eyes. When Catt reached the door, the brunette added, “Oh, don’t forget to turn the camcorder off when you come back.”

Knowing that she had been had, the exec did the only thing that came to mind and stuck out her tongue. Lil fell back on the bed in a fit of giggles. She held her hand up and peered at the ring with a smile. “You are very, very wrong mother.”
Story #11: Hanging In
The reluctant morning sun peered into the pristine bathroom. The bath water sloshed around the occupants, going over the rim in little trickles as they both tried to get comfortable. Catt ran a wet hand over and down Lil’s equally wet torso and pulled the lounging woman closer to her chest. The blonde’s longer legs rubbed against the cold tile of the bathtub but at the same time basked in the warmth of the thighs caressing against her own. Naked wet flesh slid sensuously and goose bumps appeared as a testimonial to the coolness of the bathroom and fire in her touch.

The exec kissed Lil’s damp head then peered over the side of the tub. She chuckled, “We’re getting more out than in.”

Opening deep blue eyes momentarily, Lil arched her back and stretched spilling more of the cooling water onto the soaked red area rug and the linoleum floor. “Mmm, don’t care. This feels too good.” She reveled in the feel of the tall blonde molded to her back from breast to hip. Grabbing onto the blonde’s larger hand, she intertwined their fingers before bringing them to her mouth for a brief kiss.

Catt pulled the brunette closer, finding her hands caressing her lover’s belly once more. “Yeah, I know.” Her skin felt wrinkled and heavy, but inside and out she was deeply satiated. . .for the moment. She groaned at the thought of what had transpired long minutes before. “Who knew that could be done in this little bathtub?” the exec asked quietly.

The smaller form of the brunette shook with laughter. “I didn’t. I think we defied the laws of physics that I have to read about.” She shivered–lost in the afterglow and pleasant memories.

“Mmm hmm.” The blonde frowned at the shiver, noticing that the water was losing its heat a while back. She lifted her left foot and bumped the hot water knob with her big toe. She heard a satisfied sigh as the hot took over the tepid. In tune to everything around her, Catt listened to her lover’s breathing, the running water, and her own heartbeat. It all seemed right, but in her heart, she knew something was missing if only for two days over the weekend. “It’s so quiet without her here.” The exec added softly. She stared at the baby monitor, sitting on top of the hamper. It was usually alive with sounds of cooing, babbling or just deep breathing. Today, it stood quiet.

She misses her. Lil smiled, knowing that Jamie was probably missing the blonde’s presence too. “I know. The good thing is that we can walk around naked if we want.”

Catt snorted. “We do that anyway.”

“Yeah, well there’s no one pointing and shouting out boobie,” the brunette added with a smirk.

The exec snickered this time. “There is that.” Silence followed, and long fingered hands began to move. With a smirk, Catt flicked her thumb across a nipple. “Boobieee!”

The younger woman laughed outright. Flailing about in mirth, Lil made sure that more water met the floor. She turned to her lover as much as she could. With a wide smile and sparkling eyes, the brunette whispered, “You are bad.”

Catt grinned rakishly, “Uh, huh, and you wouldn’t have me any other way.” With the same toe, she turned the water off as the tub neared capacity.

Lil turned back around, pillowing her head against a strong shoulder and sighing at the feel of full breasts pressing against her back. “Very true.” Blue eyes closed, and the younger woman waited, knowing there was more to come.

Freer with her emotions these days, especially with this woman, Catt let the words spill from her mouth as if she had said them a thousand times, “But I still miss her.”

Lil smoothed her hand over a knee. “I know you do, but he gets one weekend a month.”

The exec shook her head in disbelief. “I can’t believe that’s all the time he spends with her. She’s a great kid.”

“Yeah, I know.” The younger woman shrugged. “But that’s all the time he wanted. I guess he spends other weekends with his other kids.” Lil bit her lip as she felt the older woman stiffen behind her. There was a lot she hadn’t told her.

Catt blinked. “What do you mean by that?” She wasn’t angry but felt a little out of the loop where the brunette’s ex was concerned.

Lil sighed. “I guess we should have talked about this–about him. Josh is older than me, and I found out that he was sleeping with another woman while he was with me. She called and told me gleefully that she was carrying his child–children really. They have a set of twin boys. I didn’t find out that I was pregnant until after we broke up. I didn’t keep it from him, but at least he was honest about wanting to be a part of her life, however minute that part is.” Her tone of voice was light. The pain of that humiliation had passed long ago.

The blonde cringed. He sounds like I used to be. “That must have really hurt.” She tightened her arms around her lover.

Lil shook her head. “Not in the way you think. My pride was hurt more than anything. He was the only man I’ve ever been with, and I think. . no, I know that the only reason that we were together was because my parents wanted it. They know his parents and he grew up not even a block away. I was pretty much just going through the motions. I gave them what they wanted, and I gave Josh what he wanted. I was pretty much trying to make everyone happy. Josh wasn’t a bad guy. He doted on me and treated me well, and it made me feel like I was wanted, needed by someone. That was as far as it went. My parents went crazy when they found out that I was pregnant. He wasn’t so respectable anymore. The funny thing is that when I told him that I was pregnant, he pretty much came clean with me too. He was in love with the other girl, but his parents didn’t see her as respectable. In their eyes, I was. So we just ended up going through the motions together, I guess. There was never really anything there. I mean, we’re friends now, and I know he loves Jamie. But that’s all there is.”

Catt leaned her head back against the lip of the tub. The silence stretched between them. Feeling the stiffness of the woman in her arms, the blonde finally broke the quiet. “There’s a lot we don’t know about each other. Yet, here we are. . .together. That should be scary.” Stormy eyes closed as she waited for the other woman to comment. Despite that knowledge, they fit. She felt it slide into place they day she walked across the threshold of the younger woman’s apartment. With everyday that passed things between them felt more right. Catt knew this, but hearing it was another matter.

Lil knew the older woman’s insecurities well. She faced them everyday, defeated them everyday with the knowledge that someday they wouldn’t come back. Grabbing onto the edges of the tub, she flipped herself over, sloshing a fair amount of water onto the soggy floor. Getting comfortable and folding arms over her lovers belly, she peered up into questioning gray eyes. The battle was about to begin again. “It is and it isn’t because I know what I need to know–what scares you, what makes you smile and laugh, what you love, and what makes you cranky.” She added a smile to the last part. “I know what every expression on your face means even the blank ones.” She paused. “Is living together going to be easy? No. I’m not that naive, but we learn more about each other everyday. I share with you and you share with me. I would never keep anything from you. Not a thing.”

Catt raised a wet hand and pushed damp, curly bangs from her young lover’s eyes. She studied Lil quietly, seeing conviction, honesty, and confidence written all over her face. She believes, so should I. Feeling the doubt recede, a slow smile of acceptance spread over her face. “You know I feel the same. I’ve told you about my family and how I used to be –the women and the way I went through them, the games I played. You even saw some of it. Some of it is hard to talk about because I was in a pretty dark place for a long time. You made me see that there was a way out. I think I will eventually get around to telling you all of it, but whatever you want to know just ask.” She paused then added softly, “You’re too wise to be so young.”

Lil grinned impishly, glowing from the words whispered. The battle was over for the time being. “It’s a family trait, I think.” She reached up to finger the locket around the exec’s neck.

“Mmm, score one for the family.” The blonde canted her head to the side. “Speaking of which, how’s your sis and T doing?”

“Ah, they’re still taking it slow, trying to start all over again must be hard. Especially after what happened, but I hear mom worked wonders.” She added sarcastically.

“I can’t even imagine. I would do it for you, but I think this just shows how much they love each other.” Catt tweaked the younger woman’s nose. “As for your mother, that’s a different story. I know you want the acceptance that Gabrielle got, but she has to be eased into this, especially with Jamie involved.”

The brunette sighed for the tenth time in as many minutes. “I know. I know. I hear you. She used to comment about us when I dropped Jamie off before I went to class. She is pretty much quiet about it now. I’m trying to be patient, and I imagine it’s hard finding out that both your only daughters are lesbians. ”

Catt nodded. “Yeah it is, and look at it this way. She cares. She’s not going to stop loving you..”

“You’re right. Have you talked to your mom lately?”

The exec chuckled derisively. “No, that bridge is better left burned. I just had some things to get off my chest a while back.” Gray eyes darkened. “Besides you and Jamie are all the family that I need.”

Lil smiled and flushed at the sentiment. The smile widened as a pout formed on the blonde’s full lips. Here it comes.

“But, I still miss Jamie.”

Lil snickered. “I knew you were gonna say that. I miss her too, but the weekend will be gone before you know it.” The brunette frowned and reached back, trying to cover fleshy globes with one hand. “As nice as this is, I think we need to dry off. My ass is all cold and goosebumpy.” She let out a yelp as a larger hand covered her own, groping one cheek in hand.

“Hmm, you might be right. We wouldn’t want that to happen.”

Lil eyes narrowed. “So bad.” Raising to her knees, she placed both hands on the side of the tub and pushed up. Rivulets of water rolled off her her slim body, mingling in the pool below her. She continued to stare at her lover, recognizing the look in stormy gray eyes. Lil smirked but felt her body swell nonetheless.

Catt watched as droplets of water dribbled from glistening breasts, making a path down her torso into the dark patch between the younger woman’s legs. She licked her lips, remembering how the skin tasted, remembering the feel of a plump nipple in her mouth, remembering the salt-sweet liquid that melted against her tongue with the help of the water. Fire curled a hard edge into her stomach, shooting flames of heat to her groin. She remembered it all and wanted it again. Her eyes glittered with anticipation and need. She glanced up into dark blue that peered at her knowingly. Catt growled. She knows what she does to me.

Getting up on her knees, Catt moved fluidly to her destination with the help of the warm water. She glanced up the length of leg into amused but smoldering eyes. Pale eyebrows raised in acknowledgment as her gaze moved down to eye level. Crisp dark hair greeted her, still dribbling with water, still smelling of arousal. She nussled the sparsely coated triangle with her nose and growled as smell of renewed wetness greeted her. I know what I do to her too. Snaking hands around the brunette, she first palmed fleshy globes before taking on a firm hold to pull her lover forward with a surprised jerk. A questing tongue bathed the front of her lover’s thighs with insistent licks, moving slowly but totally avoiding the center of attraction.

Lil gasped in surprise then moaned as desire eased its way up her spine and heat scorched her thighs. How can I want her again so soon? Her thighs parted of their own volition–wanting, waiting. Her body chilled in the open air but inside she burned, aching for familiar hands to touch her, mold her, take her. Her head fell back and her breathing went ragged. The tendrils of her own hair tickled her back, scraping over nerve endings that were coming to life once more. She jerked back up in the next instant.

The blonde nudged her nose on the still hooded ball of nerves. The sudden whimper above her made the hair at the back of her nape stand on end as shivers jolted her spine. She glanced up the still sensitized, straining body until two chips of blue met her, slightly unfocused but no longer amused. She smirked, slowly, sexily and let her eyes drop to the swollen peaks of her lover’s breasts, knowing the blue gaze would follow. Brazenly, Catt appraised them, watching as they lifted with each breath; watching as the sexy flush deepened and elongated to cover her chest; watching as the turgid tips seemed to get tighter, bigger right before her eyes. She licked her lips and groaned at the sight, hearing at the same time another whispered gasp from up above.

Lil’s chest was burning from the heated gaze, and she longed for a mouth, her lover’s mouth to cool things down. Sharp tingles of awareness shot through her torso as the gray eyes watched her swell to an unbelievable fullness. For an instant, each pass of her lover’s eyes felt like fingertips tweak her nipples, felt like a tongue flicking them as if it was really there. Her heart hammered as the pleasurable pain quickly became unbearable. It wasn’t enough. Unable to control herself, hands that had been clenched at her sides traveled until they met throbbing peaks. Heat flooded her as well tutored hands palmed the flesh, meshing it. Restless fingers pinched and pulled at diamond hard peaks. Lil cried out in wonder and pleasure and her hips surged forward as the slow throb between her legs became an insistent pulsing. “Oh, god!” The moisture pooling between her legs had nothing to do with water.

Catt’s heart jumped to her throat as she took in the display with her own sense of wide-eyed wonder. They had barely touched and the fire was already spiraling out of control. She whimpered as the attempt to breathe failed and whimpered some more at the continued teasing above her. Each pull of a nipple corresponded with the sudden pulling of her groin. She flexed her hands against the firm, slippery flesh in her hands. She felt swollen, eager, achy, and unbelievably hungry.

Thighs parted even more for her, making her split her attention between busy hands and hot, slippery flesh. Catt groaned in indecision. Her mouth watered as she took in the sensual sights. In a wanton display, Lil lifted a leg and steadied it on the edge of the tub. At that moment, Catt knew that the decision had been made for her. Her eyes were riveted on the pink folds of her lover’s swollen, wet sex. Lips parted like the petals of a flower, revealing their fruit to the taker. The exec trembled with the need to taste, to devour, to hear her lover scream. Without a word, she surged forward, opening her mouth wide over aroused flesh while releasing a decidedly guttural moan.

“Ah, fuck!” Lil screamed. The blood roared in her ears as pleasure beat a path through her body. Forgetting about the tingling in her breasts, she wound small hands deep in blonde hair, to see to the rage between her legs. She pushed her sex into her lover’s face, feeling Catt’s talented tongue probe deep before it went back to teasing. Full lips nibbled and sucked at her until everything between her legs felt like one throbbing mass of exposed nerves. She couldn’t control her body or the sounds that were wrenched from her throat–breathy whimpers and long moans. They mingled well with the hums of delight coming from between her legs.

Catt felt the muscles between her own legs contract with each pass of her tongue,with each suck, and with each moan. Her head spun as her senses neared overload. Instinct and love for the woman above her drove her on, making her lap at the copious amount of fluids and flick and plunge into and over sensitive places. Caught in the moment, she speared her tongue deep into her lover’s soppy opening, using her neck muscles to gain momentum andpower behind each thrust. The sound that resulted was heavenly, leaving her ears ringing and her sex spasming. She pulled Lil into her, letting the woman ride the wet muscle, forgetting her need to breathe, forgetting her own strain. The thighs around her head began to tremble, wetness greeted her tongue in a hurried gush, and the moans had become high pitched and hoarse. They were all signals she recognized. It spurred her on.

Lil could feel climax sneaking up on her from somewhere deep inside. The tingles of electricity assaulting her body turned to all consuming waves that shook her body from the inside out. The tongue inside her abruptly changed to long fingers that curled deep. It shook her. But,the hot, insistent sucking on the exposed clitoris broke her then remade her again. Her scream reverberated off the bathroom walls, making her own ears ring, but that was minute to the riot of feelings pummeling her body.

Catt squeezed her thighs together and moaned loud and long as orgasm sang through her slow, sweet and hard. It was enough to taste her, feel her, and see her. It was enough to teeter her over the edge and make her jump into the rush below. She felt Lil slide down to her knees and splash into the water helplessly but there wasn’t a damn thing she could do about it. Water met the floor in a loud slosh as her own body continued to hum and tremble. She watched as the brunette sailed back slowly until the lip of the tub greeted her, barely missing the water spigots. There was a thump then an, “Ouch’ followed by a moan and chuckles.

With her fingers buried deep between her lover’s legs, Catt felt the laughter and the still small groping of the muscles around her digits. Finally able to move, she leaned forward, bracing herself with one hand against the tub and hovered over the younger woman. Their chests rose and fell with harsh breathing. Hooded eyes met as goofy smiles spread wide over both their faces. “You know. . .” Catt husked out then paused in an attempt to catch her breath. “Making love to you is becoming dangerous. Maybe we should stick to the bedroom?”

Lil shook her head and cringed. “No way too vanilla.”

Catt leaned forward more brushing full lips with her own. She wiggled her fingers and smiled at the moan that resulted. “Now who’s bad?” She waited patiently as the younger woman licked her mouth and chin clean.

The brunette laughed smokily as she nibbled on the older woman’s chin. “I guess we’re in this together then.”

They kissed again. “Mmm hmm. Guess so.”

The cold water sloshed against them. With sparkling eyes, Catt looked down at her lover. “Now, my ass is cold.” The bathroom filled with laughter then a loud smack as a wet hand met wet flesh.

****

They sat in the now still car outside their daughter’s apartment complex. With his lips still pulled into a thin line of annoyance and anger, Stu turned to look at his wife. “I still can’t believe you didn’t tell me, Jean. If I hadn’t seen how you were treating her with my own two eyes, I wouldn’t have suspected a thing. You were down right cold yesterday when she brought Jamie over. Don’t you think she needs us right now more than anything? I can’t believe you put this all on yourself, despite our granddaughter. This is her father’s weekend isn’t it? Maybe that’s a good thing.”

Jean peered into her husband’s eyes before allowing her gaze to skitter away as she hung her head.. “I think so, but Jamie . . .I thought–”

He reached over to pat her knee. “I know what you thought but you being angry and treating her like this isn’t going to change anything. I think we both learned that from Gabrielle. Lilian’s our daughter too for Christ sake. Can you imagine how she’s feeling? You accepted her sister but refuse to do the same for her. It must hurt.”

Jean’s head still hung. “I-I didn’t think about it like that. I was so worried about Jamie. . .”

“But you said that this woman, Caitlin, seems to be really good with her from what you saw. I know I acted like an ass with Gab, but I won’t lose her. I won’t lose either one of my daughters. Times are changed, Jean. Things aren’t like when we were young. There’s still a lot of hate in the world but there’s some tolerance and acceptance too. People are trying and we should too, despite what Father Steve says.” He rubbed a hand across his wife’s thigh then squeezed through the material of her skirt. “I think I understand where you were coming from, concerning Jamie, but again, the only thing we can do here is try to guide Lil and help her when the time comes. Ostracizing her won’t change a thing. As Jamie gets older, she’ll pick up on things like that.” He sighed and pushed a hand through dark, receding hair. Some of his anger flitted away. “We need to fix this. I hope you realize that?”

Jean nodded as she looked outside the passenger side window. She wondered how she could become so open for Gabrielle and so closed for her youngest. Selfishness? Preservation of some normalcy? She knew the reasons included Jamie, but Stu was right things have changed. I knew that. Maybe she was trying to hang onto something that was no longer there, Lil’s childhood. Despite the baby, despite Josh, deep inside she still saw the little chubby curly haired girl when Lil walked up to her–a curly haired girl who looked just like Jamie. Jean sighed. It’s time to let go or try to. I guess today will be the first step. She turned back to her husband. “Yes, I realize that.”

He gave her a sad but understanding smile. “Ready then?”

“Ready.”

Stu got out of the car and sauntered over to the passenger side to open that door. Hand in hand they walked up the sidewalk.

****

In just a few minutes they got lost in each other again. More kisses were exchanged along with softer, ‘I love you’s’, and they still buoyed in the now chilling bath water. With eyes that sparkled with emotion, Catt watched as her fingertips traced her lover’s features. “Mmm, as much as I’m enjoying this, we’d better get out of here before we start to prune.”

Lil chuckled and chomped at a finger as it trailed over her lips. “Okay, this thing is digging into my back anyway, but you go first since you’re well . . on top.” She grinned sheepishly.

Catt smiled sensuously. “Good thing I know that you like me there.” Steadying herself, she pushed up and the tall, lanky form rose. Drops of water cascaded down her body. She looked down to see blue eyes dancing. Wagging her finger, she peered down at her lover. “Oh no, don’t look at me like that. Vanilla or not. I’m not getting back into that cold water.”

Lil laughed heartily as she watched the blonde pull on the robe hanging on the back of the open bathroom door. “Well what about sinks. You seem to have a thing for sinks and bathrooms for that matter.” Lil squealed and dodged the towel that came flying at her.

The sudden sound of the door bell made them both groan.

“I can’t believe this!” The younger woman hissed. “Do you think that who ever it is will go away.”

“Don’t know lets give it a minute.” They both stood stock still as if whoever was outside could hear the tinniest movement.

Catt rolled her eyes when the pounding started. “Well I guess that answers our question.” She pulled the terry cloth robe closed over her still wet body and glanced at Lil who waited in the bathtub. Full lips pursed. “Well, I guess it’s up to me to answer it, huh?”

Lil placed on leg on the edge of the tub as she started to dry herself. She glanced up briefly at the older woman’s statement. “Uh huh, you are the top after all,” she added with a chuckle.

Gray eyes rolled again in amusement. “Oh har, har, we need to enlighten you on the definition.” Tying the robe off she headed out the door.

****

“You sure they’re home?” Stu asked. He looked down at his watch. “It’s still kinda early, barely 9am. They could be sleeping.”

Jean shrugged. “Don’t know. Their cars are here.”

Stu banged on the door again then stood back when he though he heard a growl from the other side.

Catt jerked the door open not even attempting to get the scowl off her face. She stared at the couple who stood there. Oh shit, not again. I swear her mother has the worst timing! The exec schooled her features into something resembling a smile.

“Uhm, hi?”

Stu blinked as he took in the woman before him. He knew Tara was beautiful but this woman was exquisite. And wet? Why is she wet? His face flushed red as he realized that the young woman wore nothing under the robe. He turned to his wife, who looked at him in confusion. With his eyes lowered respectively, he asked, “Um, is Lil home?”

Catt groaned inwardly. “Yeah, she’s in the bathtu. . .um yeah she’s here. Come on in.” I close big time deals but I can’t deal with parents? Get a grip, Catt.

She showed them to the couch then resisted the urge to run for the open door of the bathroom.

With flushed face, she entered the bathroom, shutting the door behind her and leaning against it. Blue eyes looked at her quizzically. “Sweetie, you won’t believe this.”

Blue eyes widened. “Oh no. Don’t tell me. She is not out there!”

Catt cringed at the panic in her lovers voice but added anyway, “Um, your dad is too.”

The pastel pink towel slid from Lil’s fingers. “Oh shit!” She covered her face with her hands and mumbled. “I love them to death, but they have the worst timing.”

Catt almost laughed but thought better of it. “Mmm, that’s what I said. . .” At least we were done this time. The statement was barely out before a flutter of activity commenced.

Lil ran from one end of the bathroom to the next. “Oh my God, I can’t go out there in a towel! I bet you sat them on the couch, didn’t you?” She pointed an accusing finger at Catt.

“Uhmm. ..”

“Nevermind!” The brunette ran to the hamper and groaned at the emptiness of it. “Laundry we did laundry, and its all in the bedroom!”

Gray eyes widened when fingers pointed back at her. “Quick!! Give me your robe!”

Catt began to oblige her. “No stop! You can’t go out there in a towel either!” Okay, I need to get a hold of myself here. Arggh, but how?!

The exec tried to hide the forming smirk. She’s too adorable like this–all flustered.

“Are you laughing at me?!”

The blonde snapped back to attention. “Um, no?”

Lil walked up to her lover until they were nose to nose and hissed, “You’d better not be, missy!”

Catt swallowed and bit her lip to keep the smirk from returning. “Uh, why don’t you let me go to the bedroom get dressed, and I’ll bring you some clothes after I’m done?”

Blue eyes narrowed suspiciously. I know she was laughing at me. Is she up to something? “Mmm, make sure you come right back!”

The blonde held up her hands in surrender. “Okay, promise.” She leaned in and kissed a scrunched up nose. “I love you, cutie.” As slick as she could be, Catt slinked out the door, leaving a goofily smiling Lil behind.

Minutes later, they stood in the bathroom fully dressed in jeans and sweaters. Lil took a deep breath, trying not to let her growing trepidation show. “Why do you think they’re here? Do you think daddy knows?”

Catt heard it in her voice anyway. “Don’t know, Sparky, but we’ll go out and face it together.” She reached for the younger woman’s hand. Apprehension and doubt crept up on her. Ah, Sparky. I hope you’re ready for this. I hope we are.

Lil didn’t hesitate as their fingers linked. I have to tell her this before we go out there. Blue and gray met. “No matter what happens out there, you have to know nothing is going to change between us. I’d choose you and Jamie every time.” Deep blue glowed with strength and belief.

Catt nodded, seeing the same truth there as when her lover’s mother denied acceptance to them both not long ago. “Let’s go then.”

****

Jean turned to her husband. “I wonder what’s taking so long?”

Stu’s face flushed again. “Um, they probably had to get dressed.”

“What do you mean they . . .”

They both turned at the sound of oncoming footsteps.

Stu saw the linked hands and sighed with acceptance. He also saw the apprehension and determination written on their faces. Wanting that look to go away, he rose slowly and went to his daughter.

Lil glanced at her lover, looking for that extra ounce of strength. She got it with a squeeze of her hand and love shining in gray eyes. She turned back to her approaching father and waited. Blue eyes widened in surprise as she was suddenly engulfed in a hug. As pure reflex, her free arm wrapped around his back, but she held steadfastly to the hand holding her own.

“D-daddy?”

Stu took a step back. “I didn’t know, sweetie. I just found out yesterday. I’m sorry you had to go through this by yourself..”

Lil’s eyes skittered from her father to the slumped shoulders of her mother, who still sat on the couch. She pulled linked hands to her chest. “I wasn’t alone, daddy. This is Caitlin.”

Catt swallowed as she reached out a hand. Her eyes bulged when it was clasped warmly by both of the older man’s appendages. Gray met blue of almost the same color as her lover’s, but Catt remained silent and waiting.

Stu cleared his throat. “Uhm, I’m not graced in the protocol of this, so I’m just going to create my own. This may not be what I wanted for Lil, but I accept it because it obviously makes her happy.” He looked down at the women’s linked hands. “I’m her father, and nothing is going to change that. You’re her lover, and nothing is going to change that either. I see in her eyes the same look I saw in Gab’s, and I refuse to lose either one of them over it. She loves you, and I hope to God that you love her because if you don’t that’s where my trouble starts. As for Jamie, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. She just needs to know that she has people who love her.”

The exec blinked, knowing that she just got told the equivalent of “Hurt my daughter and I’ll come after you with a shot gun.” But the next words came easy for her even though they hadn’t not too long ago. “I do love her. I love them both. More than she probably knows.” Catt felt her hand being squeezed. She glanced at her lover and smiled. With just one look, they got lost in each other.

Stu flushed again, feeling like an intruder. He slowly released the blonde woman’s hand and stepped away. He glanced back at his wife, seeing her look of shame and the burgeoning look of acceptance and motioned her over with wave.

Jean came forward waiting for her turn to speak. Her daughters eyes were the first to appraise her.

Lil held her breath. What had happened? She had seemed so passionately opposed to this before. “Mom, I know you’re concerned about Jamie, but. . .”

“No, Lil I wasn’t completely honest with you two or myself before. It’s so much more than Jamie. I see her in you, and it’s so hard to see you as you are now when I want back that little girl.” Jean paused and lowered her head as emotion ceased her.

“Oh, mom, I had no idea.” Lil reached out and grasped the older woman’s shoulder. “I was so scared. I mean, I remember how you guys acted when I was pregnant with Jamie, and I think this just piled on top of old hurt.”

“I’m so sorry. Nothing is going to make us stop loving you. I didn’t mean to make you think this would.” She pulled her daughter into a long hug, refusing to let go even as she stepped back to glance at the tall blonde.

Catt felt three sets of eyes on her. She refused to turn away from any of them. Taking a stand, she peered at Jean, but before she could speak the older woman beat her to the punch.

“Caitlin, I saw something or felt something rather when I saw you three together for the first time. It looked right. You all fit together without any effort at all. It threw me, seeing my little girl so grown up like that. I can admit that now. You stood by her when I went on my tirade. I’m glad she found someone who loves her and will stick by her no matter what because her mom seems to be slipping.”

“Mom,” Lil whispered as she pulled the woman back into her body.

“No, no Lil let me say my piece. Be good to them both that’s all I can ask. I saw that they really love you.”

Catt’s eyes glittered with relief. It wasn’t a glowing reception, but it was a start. “That means so much. I’m new at this family thing, but it feels right. I haven’t felt that in a long time, if ever.”

Lil glanced from one person to another, happiness brimmed over in her eyes. She leaned one way gracing her mom’s cheek with a kiss. Then, she leaned the other way, brushing lips against Catt’s.

Stu made his way back over, draping a supportive arm over his wife’s shoulders.

It was a start for them all.

****

Long minutes later, Jean followed her daughter into the kitchen hoping to help prepare breakfast for them all. The older woman let out a ‘oof’ as her daughter clobbered her with a bone crushing hug.

“Oh mom! Do you have any idea what this means to me? I mean I was so prepared to live without you, but I didn’t want that. You’ve given me back so much today.”

Jean returned the embrace as the shock slowly wore off. What did I almost do? “Oh, sweeheart. I’m so sorry.”

“Me too, mom.”

Catt watched her go, enjoying the look of joy crossing her lover’s face. It was contagious. She could feel the emotion bubbling inside, threatening to spill over. She sat down in the chair and watched the swinging kitchen door until it settled. It wasn’t till the sound of rustling that she remembered that someone else was in the room. Uh, oh never did the father thing before.

Stu sat on the couch and brought his hands together warily. He glanced around the new improved living room until their eyes met, and nervous smiles followed. He cleared his throat. “Um, how bout those Pacers?”

Catt’s eyes widened. Then, before she could help it a bark of laughter escaped. “Is that the football team?”

Stu followed her into laughter. “It doesn’t matter neither one of them are doing too good.” He paused. “You haven’t done this before either have you?”

The exec shook her head, unable to stop the continuous chuckling.

“Well, we are a pair aren’t we?”

Lil leaned against the door, peaking out of a slight crack. The sound of laughter beckoned her, and what she saw made her heart warm.

Jean looked over her daughter’s shoulder. “What is it?”

Lil’s smile was so big. She was sure it could be heard in her voice. “Just watching things come together. That’s all.”
Story #12: Touch
The ever deceptive Hoosier sun extended its glowing fingers through the semi-closed Venetian blinds, casting long geometric shapes on the huddled forms in the huge bed. Tara squinted as a ray gleefully flicked back and forth across her face. She murmured defensively and tried to bury her face into the red gold hair of the woman tucked into her back to belly. Unfortunately, she opened silver-blue eyes and blinked rapidly. The damage had been done.

Groaning silently in protest, she refused to let the sunlight break her away from everything. Flexing her arm, she tightened her hold on Gabrielle and smiled at the small moan the action elicited. Carefully, the brunette pulled herself up on one elbow, giving her a view of the sleeping woman. ‘Look at her. She still looks so tired, but at least she slept through the night for the first time in a while.’ Tara closed her eyes and sighed, while sending up a silent prayer of thanks that her lover had–had a dreamless, screamless, and somewhat painless night. ‘She deserves it after all the shit that she went through. This doc seems to be helping her. The nightmares are few and far between, but they’re still there to some degree. It seems like ages since she’s slept through the night. She comes home sometimes cheerful, other times somber, but she’s opening up. I know what that rat bastard said to her. How he made her feel. It’s amazing that she carried that around as long as she did.’ Tara thought to herself. Opening baby blues, she peered down at her lover once more. Deciding not to wake her, Tara soaked in the warmth and reveled in the intimacy that watching the strawberry blonde brought to her.

Slowly, she removed the hand that had found a comfortable place caressing the abdominals hidden under the tank top, hopefully finding better things for the appendage to do. She pulled away strands of auburn hair that were caught by moist, parted lips and rolled them between her fingers as she watched lashes flutter against flushed cheeks. The brunette swallowed painfully. ‘So beautiful, and I almost lost it all.’ Tara shivered at the thought. She never wanted to know what that sort of emptiness felt like, but right now, she had never felt so thankful or so lucky. Her hand trembled as she dwelled on the almost. ‘Almost lost you in more ways than one, Red. So stupid.’

Accustomed guilt made her breath come out in a whoosh and her heart flutter. Feeling herself start to panic, she pushed the emotion back with the sheer force of her will. ‘No, I can’t think about this right now. It’s too much.’ Her jaw hardened and clenched with the force of containment, but the thoughts came anyway. ‘Sixteen days. Sixteen days since things have almost gotten back to normal. It’s been more than twice as long since I almost—‘ She couldn’t even bring herself to say the words internally. Bile rose in her throat just by remembering. ‘I can’t lose sight again. You’re what I want, baby. What I always wanted.’ Gentle hands traced from the top of the other woman’s shoulder down to a naked arm. ‘I know you don’t know what happened, but I’ll still make it up to you somehow,’ she vowed. The brunette prayed that it would be enough to atone and get the monkey off her back., but imperceptibly, the claws went in deeper, allowing the guilt to dissipate only to assuredly come back full force another day.

She leaned in and kissed the shoulder that she had been caressing moments before. Rays of sunshine hit her fully now as the sun rose higher in the sky, but the tired, slumbering woman in front of her seemed immune to its brightness. The mechanic absorbed the bright rays and in return, they made her restless. She suddenly wished for the metallic, oily smell of her garage, but knew the extended leave was necessary to get her life back into some semblance of order. The longer she lay, though, the more restless she grew. While the warmth radiating off her lover’s body was tempting, her own body screamed for her to get up and get moving.

With the decision made, she gingerly removed herself from the bed, only getting a tiny mew of protest from its other occupant. Spying a rolled ball of socks nearby, she pulled them on and padded down the hall into the kitchen, straightening the shorts and t-shirt that had gone askew during the night. Still able to feel her lover’s ribs even after her mother’s visit and her cooking, Tara figured a hearty breakfast was in order. She smiled mentally going down the short list of things that she could cook. ‘Omelets, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and fried chicken.’ The smile turned into a chuckle as she wished that some of Gabrielle’s kitchen magic would rub off without her actually having to learn some of the complicated procedures. ‘Omelets it is then, along with toast, sausage, fruit, juice and that sugar water that she likes,’ she decided.

She paused in front of the refrigerator and pulled it open. Blue eyes blinked as they beheld the meager contents: baking soda, ketchup, cheese that had died and yogurt. Pursing her lips, she closed it again. “Well, I guess that I’ll be going shopping,” she said to no one in particular. Glancing out of the window, the mechanic gauged the weather. Already knowing the sun was out, the condensation on the window telling her that it was as cold as it had been all winter even though it was well into February. Silver-blue glanced at the calendar hanging on the fridge with the help of magnets. Tomorrow, the twenty-first was circled to mark their first session together with Dr. White. Nervous butterflies fluttered in her stomach, making her clutch it to stop the busy movement. ‘God, I hate doctors,’ she complained to herself. ‘I especially hate the ones who play in your head, but if it will help us get through this, I’ll just consider my head ripe for shrinking.’

Active, curious eyes glanced at the calendar again, back tracking a little bit to count how long she had been off work. Her eyes came to a section with hearts instead of a date, and recognition hit her like a ton of bricks. “Oh shit!” Between all the ignoring, screaming and yelling, she and Gabrielle had been doing to each other, Valentine’s Day had passed them by quietly without so much as a whimper. Tara once more clutched at her stomach for an entirely different reason. She felt sick. She had always considered Valentine’s Day to be a special holiday for lovers, and it had a particularly special meaning now that she was actually in love for the first time in her life. “I fucked it up.” Then she thought, ‘Well, honestly we both did by getting our wires so crossed that it led to arguments that only pushed us further apart.’

She leaned backward until her back touched the cool surface of the refrigerator. ‘She deserves better than this. I have to do something.’ She stared at the phone from across the room, walked briskly to it, picked it up, and dialed the numbers to her bank. After getting the automated teller, the brunette punched in a series of numbers, waited a few minutes, and hung up the phone with a smile on her face. “She’s going to get Valentine’s Day, even if it is a little late.” Tara looked down at her attire. ‘Guess I’ll have to go back to the bedroom and change first.’

After a while, the strawberry blonde started to miss the additional warmth and softness that she was sure was gone. She mumbled and rolled over. Sure enough, the bed was empty. Opening green eyes still foggy with sleep, she almost screeched as the sun hit her directly in the face. Gabrielle turned over immediately, shielding herself with a sigh. One hand reached over to touch the emptiness where her lover had been and glided across the clean sheet where she could feel the residual warmth that Tara had left. Unable to help herself, she moved over to the vacated side and buried her face in the still fragrant pillow. She smiled, breathing in the sweet scent. ‘I don’t know what I’d do without her. Even if I didn’t tell her that all the times when we argued, she’s been the glue that kept me from flying completely apart.’ Gabrielle had wanted to see her friends during all this, but felt she wasn’t ready to face Shannon and Wayne nor wanted them to see her like this. So, she had settled for phone calls and using Tara as her anchor. Pulling herself up to her elbows, she peered down at the pillow and leaned in to kiss where she figured Tara’s cheek would have been. By Gabrielle’s standards, Tara deserved that kiss and so much more. Every night, since her mother had left, the strawberry blonde was still plagued by nightmares that ended in her screaming, and every night, Tara had been there holding her, rocking her like a child, whispering comforting nonsense until the petite woman calmed down. However, last night had been different, but Tara was there too.

The brunette watched from the doorway as the younger woman cuddled her pillow. It was the sweetest thing she had seen in a while, besides the woman’s sleep-rumpled form, causing a grin to lighten her features. She righted herself and made her way into the room. “You know, the real thing is much better.” Tara bit her lip in mirth as the younger woman squealed in surprise and ducked when the pillow came toward her head.

“Augh! Must you always walk like a cat?! You scared ten years onto my life,” the redhead retorted in mock anger.

Tara’s grin got wider. “Good, that just means more time with you.” Blue eyes crinkled with amusement and wonder as she watched joy chase its way across the other woman’s face, leaving her flushed. Now laying on her side, facing the door, the younger woman couldn’t hide the blush, so she bit her lip and let it come.

In a soft voice, she added, “Sometimes, you say things so sweet that I can’t believe that they’re about me.”

Picking up the pillow, Tara made her way to the bed and sat down with a soft plop. Silver blue met jade green and Tara reveled in the electrical spark flowing between them. She leaned in closer to the source of the flame, letting it burn her like it had so many times before. “They’re about you alright. You make me say them just by being who you are. Don’t change baby.”

Mesmirized by her voice and her nearness, Gabrielle reached up and automatically wound her hand in soft, inky tresses, urging the brunettes face toward hers. She tore her eyes away from sparkling blue to go to an even more delectable sight, full lips. “So sweet,” she muttered before pulling Tara’s head down the rest of the way. Moist lips touched and clung, knowing they had found their match. Tongues met softly, reverently as if seeking to savor each touch. Gabrielle sighed in awe of the gentleness the other woman was displaying. It made her feel decidedly cherished. Reluctantly pulling away, Gabrielle smiled up at her lover. “Good morning to you too. Why didn’t you wake me?”

Tara pulled the hand that had formerly been in her hair into her own. “You looked so tired. I couldn’t bring myself to wake you. It’s been a while since you’ve slept through the night.”

The younger woman squeezed the hand holding hers. She yawned for good measure. “I’m still tired, and I-I did dream. I just—”

“What? Oh God, I slept through it? Why didn’t you wake me? I told you that—”

“No, it wasn’t like that. You were there this time, in my dream. You were there, holding me, and it was like none of it happened.”

Tara closed her eyes feeling old pain return. “I just wish I was really there. I’m sorry—”

“T, look at me.” Blue eyes opened to greet her. “You were there. How do you think I survived it? Fought back? I did it for you, for us, and I understand that –that’s okay now. You’re here now too when I really need you, so don’t do this to yourself, not again.”

Tara brought their entwined hands up to her mouth and kissed the smaller one. “I know. It’s just so hard. I hope your head shrinker can help me with this.”

The redhead smiled softly at the other woman’s use of slang, knowing full well it was the nerves talking. Strategically, she decided not to comment on it but squeezed the larger hand in a gesture of comfort. Unable to hide it, Gabrielle yawned again.

The raven haired woman couldn’t help but notice. “Listen, why don’t you try to go back to sleep. I’m going to go out and pick up some groceries. Our cupboard is bare.”

“Mmm, I think that I will, since I’m dreaming of you now. Hurry back. This bed gets cold real quick.”

An infamous dark brow raised. “I swear all you want me for is my body.”

Gabrielle batted her eyes coquettishly as she snuggled under the covers. “No, I, um, want you for your brain too.”

Tara leaned in to kiss the woman on the forehead. “Mmm-hmm. I’m not gonna comment on that one. Let me get dressed, and I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Gabrielle rolled over to her lover’s side of the bed and closed her eyes. “Kay.”

****

Tara made a quick stop at a branch of her local bank to withdraw from the ATM. Underway again, she looked at the dashboard as she turned onto the highway, hoping a jewelry store or Terre Haute’s meager excuse for a mall, at least, was open at 10:30 on a Sunday morning. Finally, getting to the mall, she drove around in the parking lot, seeing a few parked cars. “Please, please be open. I need to get her something that conveys how I feel about her.” Far on the east side, blue eyes spied a group of three women going through the side entrance. She almost whooped in triumph. Tara parked the car as quickly as possible and made her way inside. One hurdle had been cleared, and she was setting herself up for the next one.

The inside of the mall smelled of popcorn and disinfectant, and she pulled her coat closer to her body instantly feeling the customary cold swirling out to meet her. It was quiet except for the occasional buzz of passerby’s. Workers in the vending area were huddled together laughing, having nothing better to do, and the recent pop phenomenon blared through the PA system. She took it all in and disregarded it as inconsequential.

Tara decided to look at the independent jewelers first but passed by their stands without much success. Everything looked penny ante and cheap. Sighing in exasperation, she decided to follow where window shopping led her. Peeping into every jewelry store, she even mustered enough civility to smile at the curious eyes that looked back at her from the inside. Getting to the last one in a long row, she stood outside and groaned in disappointment. Despite the name, Ingrid and Ida’s, there was nothing that even remotely caught her eye. She stood in front of store window and stared blankly, not seeing at all. ‘Damn it, I knew that I couldn’t make this turn out the way I wanted, especially at the last minute. I just wanted to make this day special for her, to give her something to remember until the next Valentine’s Day where I’ll top this one.’ She ran a hand through her bangs, feeling hopeless. ‘Ah, I can’t do anything right.’ The tall woman was snapped out of her self-pity trek by movement in the store. Soft brown eyes looked back at her from inside the window display. The older woman inside straightened the gold chains on display but looked up to smile into blue. She waved her hand, beckoning Tara to come inside. Feeling it was her last choice, the mechanic went in and was rewarded with an even bigger smile from the elderly clerk. She towered over the stooping woman but felt endeared nonetheless by the white-haired lady who’s gentle brown eyes refused to brake contact.

“Let me guess. You’re here for a gift, but you can’t find anything you think your friend would like?”

Tara arched a brow upon hearing the clear, self-assured voice from the old woman, but she answered anyway, not wanting to be rude. “Yeah, that’s about the long and short of it.”

“Mmm, do you know what you’re looking for?”

She walked deeper into the store. “Sort of. I mean, I want to get her something that shows that she has my heart and promises that I’ll take care of hers.” Tara hung her head to hide the blush and get away from the woman’s frank scrutiny. She looked up again to see the elderly woman grinning fully and holding out her hand.

“I’m Ingrid, and I think that I can help you.”

Tara smiled hesitantly and pumped the offered hand in a firm handshake. “I’m Tara. Thank you, but I don’t have a lot of money to spend—”

The clerk waved nonchalantly with her hands. “Don’t worry about that. I was about to put up sale signs. We have them often on the weekends. Follow me.” Ingrid led the younger woman to a case that held gold locket pendants and diamond accented hearts that were attached to the most elegant of gold chains.

“Um, Miss-Ingrid, I don’t think that I can afford these.”

“Their fifty percent off, and the highest price is about two-fifty.”

Tara looked down at the jewelry and crinkled her brow. Each piece looked as though it cost hundred’s more than that.

Noticing the look of hesitation, the clerk stepped in. “Why don’t you take a look and tell me if something jumps out at you?”

Blue eyes scanned the velvet case inside the glass until she came to a heart pendant surrounded by small diamonds with a larger one in the middle. The piece, looking impossibly delicate and fragile, glittered in the harsh fluorescent lighting. ‘Fragile, that’s what her heart is right now, but she’s still so beautiful inside. And, she’s gentled my heart. Almost makes it feel weightless at times. It’s perfect, but it looks so expensive.’ Her eyes glowed with subdued excitement, and in a child like voice, she asked, “Can I see this one right here?” She tapped a long finger against the glass.

The clerk bent over to remove the velvet case. “Nice choice. It caught your eye right away, huh?” With older, wrinkled fingers, she handed off the piece.

Tara looked up, her excitement growing. “I don’t know. It just fits somehow. How much?”

Ingrid quickly pulled the tag off the dangling necklace. “It’ll be two forty six and some change with tax.” The older woman was rewarded with a toothy smile from her customer.

“I’ll take it. Will it be extra to wrap this up?”

Brown eyes twinkled in amusement. “No, I’ll throw it in for free.”

“Great,” Tara couldn’t hide the excitement in her voice. ‘I hope she likes this.’ “I’m paying with cash.” Her thoughts continued to turn as she gave the clerk the money. ‘I should get her some flowers with what I have left over. I know she’ll like that.’ Two more hurdles had been successfully jumped. Tara smiled at the clerk one last time before turning to leave with her purchase. “Thanks ma’am I really appreciate this.”

Ingrid grinned back with warm affection. “I’m sure your woman will too.” The older woman watched as the brunette left the store and jumped a little when a familiar hand encased her shoulder.

“Sorry Idgie, didn’t mean to scare you. What are you smiling about?”

Ingrid looked up at the tall imposing woman that still made her heart melt after thirty years. “Just made a good sale, Ida love, to a very nice woman who wanted to show her heart.”

“Mmm, how much of a sale was it this time?” The taller woman tried to hide the grin, knowing her lover’s romantic heart.

“I told her fifty percent , but it was more like seventy. She deserved it though.” Brown eyes looked up into gray. “You’re not too upset are you?”

The taller woman bent down and placed a kiss on the other woman’s temple. “I could never be mad at someone who follows her heart.”

****

Feeling giddy and looking forward to the promising day, Tara made it to Kroger in record time. She flashed a brilliant smile at the florist inside the store, making the man fumble with her order that consisted of a dozen roses in as many colors as possible. Gathering himself in the face of such a beautiful woman, the florist finally found his voice. “You know, each color represents a different feeling like a different kind of love?”

Cocking her head to the side, she answered, “I know. You don’t have anyone that makes you feel that way?”

The man’s smile was big and expressive. “Yes, I do for twenty years now.”

Paying for the bouquet, Tara added, “Make sure you tell her that.” Giving him a wink, she left and rushed her way through the isles. Blue eyes rolled at the length of the check out lines. ‘That’s why there was nobody at the mall.’ The brunette picked up a magazine and thumbed through it. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the next line moving a bit quicker. She put the magazine back into the dispenser and moved her cart to the next lane.

Her breathing stopped as she studied what looked to be the familiar back of the petite blonde in front of her. Her heart roared in her ears and breathing returned high pitched and ragged. Tara whimpered in panic and felt her throat constrict.

Suddenly shaking hands, open and closed into fists as blue eyes darted around in an attempt to look anywhere but in front of her. ‘Oh God, please don’t let it be her! I can’t even remember her name.’ Her mind screamed. The guilt came back tenfold, crushing her shoulders, making her sweat and go deathly pale. The lithe body started to ache from the neck down. She knew Terre Haute was small but not this small. ‘I gotta get out. Can’t deal with this right now!’ Her mind screamed Tara gripped her chest, trying to press her thumping heart deeper into her aching chest cavity. ‘Please don’t see me.’ Guilt and fear ate away at her insides, shooting acid and bile up into her throat. The urge to throw up was overwhelming. At this moment in time, Tara understood what a drowning victim felt like.

‘Have to get away.’ Finally, her sluggish brain obeyed, but the jerkiness of her body caused her to bang the cart into the bottom of the metal counter. The brunette backed away in panic as the blonde started to turn. ‘No, no, no!’ The blonde head turned, and brown eyes studied her in confusion. “Ms.? Are you okay?”

Tara looked at the woman wide-eyed and fearful. Eyes were brown where they should have been green, and the face was much older. Shame, embarrassment, and a little relief mingled with the heavy weight of guilt, causing the color to come back to her face in a red splash. Tara blinked in an attempt to moisten dry eyes. ‘This is killing me.’ “Um, thought you were somebody else,” she croaked. As quickly as she got the words out, she spun on her heels, cart and all, to head for another lane, hoping to outrun the myriad of emotions snapping at her heels. Still nervous, hands shaking, she almost threw the money at the young cashier, but the feelings followed her out to the car. After throwing everything into the backseat, Tara folded her body into the front. She took deep breaths in an attempt to improve shallow breathing, and it was enough to let the tears come. The brunette cried out before slumping forward in the seat and laying her head on the steering wheel. Hands held onto the wheel in a white knuckled grip.

‘Is it gonna feel like this every time I think that I see her? Every time I think about it?’ Fisted hands clenched tighter. ‘I-I can’t do this. It’s going to eat me up inside until there’s nothing left to give her. Oh God, I have to tell her, but not now. Not after all she’s been through. It would kill her, kill us, but I have to tell her.’ She cried out again feeling her heart and soul torn in different directions. ‘I wish that I had somebody to talk to.’ She raised her head and wiped at the tears. ‘There’s Shannon and Wayne, but they were loyal friends to her before me. Jake, but I don’t need him coming down on me. I can’t take anymore.’

Pushing trembling hands through her hair, a dim light came on. ‘Maybe this doctor can help. I have to believe that and try my damndest to make it up to her in the meanwhile.’ Blue eyes glanced toward the wrapped gift in the seat. The words fragile and delicate turned over in her brain. ‘It would destroy her. I have to wait. The doctor will help.’ She leaned back in the seat until her back touched the cushy material. Unzipping her coat, she wiped at her drying face with her t-shirt. Now sitting back, she closed her eyes and hoped that she wasn’t rationalizing, hoped she wasn’t being selfish, and hoped that Terre Haute was a little bigger than it seemed. She sniffled and sat in the parking lot for a few more long minutes before putting the key in the ignition. Somehow, she had put swirling emotions on the back burner because it was time to go home and try to atone.

****

The empty room was filled with a silent moan. He was there again, snarling at her, touching her, scaring her. She wanted to scream but couldn’t find her voice. All words and sounds came out in a dry choke. His imposing body stood in front of her in giant-like repose while she grew smaller and smaller. The strawberry blonde cringed as his laughter rang out. Suddenly, strong arms engulfed her and moist lips kissed her brow in a calming gesture. Green eyes turned to peer into silver-blue orbs that held promises of safety and love. She believed them and in return, got lost in them. Finally, turning back to the snarling man, she saw him shrink before her eyes. His booming laughter was reduced to mouse squeaks and the paralyzing fear left her. In the same empty room, the sleeping blonde smiled, whispered, and burrowed further into the familiar smell.

Breakfast tray in hand with expensive extras, Tara stood at the door watching and feeling torn between wanting to stay and wanting to run. The debate was settled for her upon hearing her name whispered from her lover’s lips in sleep. It became that simple. ‘I stay and fight for her regardless of what happens. I’ll make this late Valentine’s Day memorable and count on keeping the rest that way.’ It was time to swallow the guilt and think about the woman in the bed.

Walking in, Tara sat the tray down on the floor by the bed after removing a red rose from the wrapped bouquet. As quietly and with as less movement as possible, she crawled up on the bed, knees first. After getting as close to the back of the sleeping woman as possible, Tara leaned over her, allowing long, black hair to caress them both. With the rose, she traced an uncovered arm down to the woman’s finger tips, loving the small moan and waiting for green eyes to open. Biting her lip, the mechanic smiled when they fluttered open and bent to a delicate ear. In a low husky voice, she began to sing, My funny Valentine, sweet comic Valentine. You make me smile with my heart.

Fully awake now, Gabrielle’s breath came out in a whoosh as tiny shivers crept their way down her spine at the sound of the other woman’s voice. She turned over on her back and looked up into gentle, loving blue as the woman sang another verse. ‘God, what she does to me.’ Warmth strummed through her body with each note, filling her to the hilt and spilling out through her eyes. Her only hope was that the brunette could feel the love shining in her eyes because for the moment her throat constricted with a well of emotion, leaving her mute. ‘So sweet, and she’s all for me.’ Unable to speak, she just simply smiled a smile that lit up her entire face.

As she sung on, Tara saw the surprised joy light the strawberry blonde’s features, and in return it turned on a calming light inside her chest. Please stay little Valentine. Each day, Valentine. Stay. Drawing the last note out, she finished the song and trailed the rose across cheeks to under the redhead’s nose, allowing her to inhale its fragrance. The flower’s journey stopped at the hollow between collar bones, where it was finally laid aside.

Closing emerald eyes, Gabrielle tried to catch the breath that had left her. Her heart pumped furiously in her chest. Opening them, she reached up with a shaking hand to trace chiseled features, wallowing in their softness. Never had she felt so humbled, so cherished. It was overwhelming to know that she was loved like that. Green eyes glistened with unshed tears, Gabrielle took a deep breath and ended it with a sigh, feeling her heart reluctantly slow down. She swallowed, hoping her voice had returned. “T, why—”

The brunette smiled, now knowing that the redhead, herself, had forgotten the past holiday. “Happy Valentine’s Day, baby.”

Green eyes went wide with recognition, and Gabrielle pulled herself up to a sitting position.

“Oh Gosh, I completely forgot!”

Now laying down beside the other woman, she nodded her head in agreement. “I know. I did too, and it wasn’t until I was looking at the calendar that I saw it. I-I wanted to do something for you even though it’s a little late.” Her voice hitched and her eyes shined with hesitancy.

Feeling her lover’s plight, Gabrielle took a wandering hand in her own. “You did. The song was so beautiful. Made me feel all warm and liquid inside.”

Tara brought the smaller hand to her mouth for a kiss. “I’m glad. I usually don’t sing unless something really moves me, but loving you does that for me.” Unable to help herself, she smiled feeling totally charmed as the auburn head ducked to hide a blush and muffle the girlish giggle that came free. Wanting to keep causing that look, Tara disengaged her hand to turn over and pick up the bouquet resting on the tray on the floor. “Um, I got some other things for you.”

Gabrielle’s head shot up. “Aww, T, you didn’t have to. I didn’t get you anything—”

Bringing the flowers up, she set them in an unsuspecting lap. “You got me everything I needed. You came back to me, and I just want to show you how grateful I am.” Tara watched as the redhead fingered and sniffed perfect petals. “I got different colors to symbolize what I feel for you: passion, purity, friendship, and so on.” Her voice was soft and thick with emotion.

Gabrielle felt her heart fill to the bursting point as she looked deep into darkened blue. “You love me like that?” She felt herself swell with wonder and a little fear, to be responsible for such feelings was an awesome task.

The dark head hung. Looking up again, she replied, “Sometimes, I feel so much for you that I don’t know how to describe it. It’s like there’s no name for it.” She glanced at her partner through inquisitive blue. “You know what I mean?”

Understanding perfectly, Gabrielle nodded her head. She had been feeling the indescribable since the night they met. “Yeah, I do. I don’t know what I did to deserve you, but I pray that I’m living up to it because I sure as hell don’t want to lose you.” She took out a yellow rose and lifted it to the brunette’s face, allowing it to kiss perfect skin and trace over sculptured cheek bones. “You bring out things in me that I didn’t even know was there, and you make everything so. . . intense. Loving you is an experience that I will never tire from. Do you understand what I mean?”

‘I guess that’s why she’s the writer,’ Tara smiled to herself. “Perfectly. I’ve never been one to go for flowers, romance or anything I thought would make me soft, but I know that it makes you happy and that makes me stronger. It took me a while to realize that, but I’m glad I did. So, I really do understand where you’re coming from.”

For what seemed like the longest time, they lapsed into a comfortable silence that was punctuated by a long gaze. It was interrupted when Tara took a deep breath and realized that there was still the matter of food. “Um, there’s some other things. I made breakfast for you.” Reaching down, she quickly put the jewelry box in her pocket and brought the tray up for inspection.

Gabrielle looked at the food in delight. “What no fried chicken?” She asked with a smirk.

“Oh har, har, smart ass. I can make four other things, and you get the omelet. I put a little cheese in there and made you some coffee too. I want you to eat the toast and sausage before it gets cold. We still need to fatten you up.”

Feeling totally cherished and endeared, Gabrielle added, “Always looking out for me, huh?”

Not looking away from expressive green, Tara answered with one word. “Always.”

After putting the roses in a water filled pitcher she brought from the kitchen, Tara sat quietly with an enigmatic smile, watching the redhead eat with renewed hunger. The slight weight of the jewelry box in her pocket served as a constant reminder. She couldn’t wait to see her face because she knew that Gabrielle thought the flowers were it. The giddy feeling made the mechanic want to clap her hands or even do a jig, but instead, she just sat there and watched.

Gabrielle moaned in delight as the fluffy egg almost melted on her tongue. With her mouth half full, she interjected, “Mmm, thisf is good, butf you’re notf eating?”

Tara grinned in an attempt to hide the chuckle. Her lover was cute in whatever she did. “Nah, I’m okay. If I get hungry, I’ll fix something later. Just wanted to make sure you were taken care of.”

The redhead smiled as she chewed on a piece of sausage. “Mm, okay. Mmm, good.”

Tara waited until there was a small piece of omelet left before fishing in her pocket. Gabrielle speared it with a fork and proceeded to bring it up to her waiting mouth.

“Gabrielle, I have one last thing for you.” Not saying anymore, she just opened the wrapped box to reveal the necklace.

Curious green eyes turned to the other woman as the sound of her name, and the writer plopped the egg in her mouth before looking down into her partner’s large hands. Gabrielle’s fork fell from nerveless hands as did the piece of egg from her open mouth. With a bemused expression, Tara saw the same piece of food fall back on the plate. Both sets of eyes fell upon the same sight. Feeling a little embarrassed and overwhelmed emotionally, Gabrielle snorted down at the soggy piece of food. A dark brow shot up, and green eyes shining with unshed tears and mirth raised to meet blue. Just as undignified as it was a second ago, Gabrielle snorted again, loudly, followed by a hiccup and a peel of laughter. Unable to help herself, Tara quirked her lips and allowed her own laughter to come. Calming down a little she remarked, “Guess I should have known not to mix anything with food concerning you. Glad I didn’t hide it in the eggs.”

The tray and plate in Gabrielle’s lap began to rattle as she started chuckling harder. Pale blue met green again, and Tara felt uncontainable laughter bubble up. The laughter roared for several minutes until someone finally looked away. Giggles escaped as they both tried vehemently not to look at each other. After a few more minutes, it died completely but the mood remained. Tara was the first to speak. “Okay, okay, as I was saying before I was interrupted. . .” She peered at her lover suspiciously. “. . . I got this for you too. Um, it sort of reminded me of you, of us.” She glanced up looking for understanding and a little latitude. With a nod, she got it. “Uh, you know how you like to seem tough, but inside you’re really fragile? This reminded me of you. It’s made out of diamonds and gold. Not cheap stuff. It’s sturdy and looks like it could stand up to anything, but if it’s not taken care of, it could break. Do you understand what I’m saying.”

Feeling tears prickle her eyes, Gabrielle nodded and felt them fall. ‘God, she’s so beautiful inside, and I don’t think she even knows it.’

A little shocked by the tears, Tara touched gentle fingertips to her lover’s cheeks to wipe them away. ‘Oh, don’t cry, baby. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

Gabrielle grasped the older woman’s hand around the wrist to keep it there. “I-I can’t help it. You make me so ha-happy,” she hiccuped.

Feeling a little relieved, Tara smiled. “I’m glad, Red. Can I put it on you?”

Letting go of her lover’s hand, the petite woman turned around and lifted red-gold off the back of her neck. With slightly shaky hands, Tara fastened it and planted a kiss at the nape of Gabrielle’s neck. She grinned at the answering shiver. “Turn around. Let me see.” Through admittedly jaded eyes, Tara gazed upon the most beautiful sight. She fingered the pendant the let fingers trail up to the redhead’s determined chin and over quivering lips. “I love you, Gabrielle.”

The writer bit her lip upon hearing her favorite three words, all the better since it ended with her name. Finally, it seemed that some normalcy had returned in the form of their easy chemistry and camaraderie, and for that she was thankful. Gabrielle smiled up into azure eyes. “How does it look?”

Not hesitating, Tara answered, “Perfect. Just like I thought I would. Do you wanna see?”

“You have to ask? Of course I do?”

Tara grinned as she rose from the bed. “Well, hold your horses, and I’ll get you a mirror.” After rustling around the room a few minutes, Tara pulled out a hand held mirror. Sitting back down on the bed, she handed it over and watched the other woman’s reaction. The fingers of a small hand touched and traced the heart shape. “Oh my, it is beautiful.” Concern suddenly colored her features. “You didn’t pay—”

Tara shook her head and held up her hand, not even letting the other woman finish the sentence. “Don’t even go there because it doesn’t even matter.”

Auburn brows drew together and her hand dropped to her lap. “I’m sorry. It’s just that I worry. I don’t want you to spend all your money on me.”

Tara grabbed the hand up from the woman’s lap and beckoned green eyes with her own. “Look at me. I wanted to get you something nice, and money doesn’t matter. Besides, I caught in on sale. The sweetest old woman sold it to me. I stumbled into a jewelry store, Ingrid and Ida’s, I think it was called. She was weird but sweet.”

“Oh, I know that place those two have been together for over thirty years. Do you think we’ll be together that long?”

This time dark brows came together in confusion. “You mean that shop is run by lesbians?” ‘That explains that weird smile she gave me when I mentioned that the gift was for my girlfriend.’

Gabrielle rolled her eyes. “Leave it to you to get fixated on that one thing, love. You gonna answer my question?”

Tara leaned in and brushed surprised lips with her own. “Oh, I heard you, and yes, I can see us together that long and even longer.” Full lips split into a grin, “We’ll be eighty years old, and I’ll still be chasing you trying to get under your skirt.” Large frisky hands took hold of ticklish sides, causing the redhead to squeal.

Gabrielle slapped playfully at the brunette’s hands. “Aaargh, I can’t breath. Stop it! You wench!” The hands stopped and the redhead looked up into her lover’s face when she heard a growl. “Um, you beautiful wench?” Slowly, fingers crept up her side, poised for an impending attack. “You beautiful, sexy wench?” She glanced into blue, hopefully. The fingers attacked her full force, making her scream in laughter.

Tara worked her hands with an evil little smile on her face. She was enjoying herself. It had been so long since they wallowed in their playful side, and she hadn’t heard Gabrielle laugh like that in quite a while. It was refreshing, knowing that she could help bring this out of the younger woman. She tickled and tickled until she saw tears stream out of closed eyes. The brunette finished the session with a light caress across the other woman’s abdomen, which afforded her the enjoyment of seeing muscles jump at her touch.

Gabrielle fell back to the bed, heaving in breaths. She giggled for the last time before saying. “I’ll get you for that you. . .you woman!” That alone earned her another chuckle from the tickler.

Tara laid back down beside the shallow breathing woman and propped herself up on her elbows. “So, are you having a good time, Red?”

Finally catching her breath, she sighed and said, “Oh yeah, it seems like it’s been forever since we were able to play and laugh. I’m happy, and I think Dr. White will consider it a big breakthrough for the both of us.”

Tara hung her head, feeling a little nervousness return. “I’m glad your enjoying this, but I’m a little nervous about tomorrow. I don’t like doctors, especially the one’s that do what she does.”

Gabrielle’s petite form turned over to face her lover. She reached out a hand and captured a lock of ebony hair. “I know you are. I could sense it. I mean, I was nervous the first time I went, but once you meet her and get it over with, it will go a lot easier. Trust me.” She leaned in, making their foreheads touch. “What do you think she’s going to do? Suck out your brain and wash it clean?” She asked with a smirk.

Tara gave her a mock glare. “Noo. She doesn’t have one of those couches like they do on TV does she?”

Making her face as serious as possible, Gabrielle replied, “No, but she makes you sit in this circle that looks sort of like a pentagram, and—”

Blue eyes narrowed to slits. Knowing her chain was being jerked, Tara decided on a little payback. Giving a little growl, she palmed the rounded flesh of one of the strawberry blonde’s buttocks. After giving it a good squeeze, the mechanic smiled ferally as she smacked it.

“Owww, shit!” Gabrielle rubbed the affected body part and scowled at the chuckling woman in front of her.

Tara pulled her t-shirt up to hide her face as she continued to laugh. She giggled harder as smaller hands tried to uncover her face. After a minute, it stopped and she peaked out from under the shirt to see green eyes smiling at her. “What’s so funny, Red?”

“Oh, nothing, just enjoying the view.”

Tara looked down to see the bottom of her breasts revealed from under the shirt. She glanced back up with a lecherous grin. “Pervert.”

“Hey! I’m not the one that goes around grabbing women’s asses!”

Tara pursed her lips. “I only grab your ass, sweetie,” she said in a saccharine sweet voice. “Listen, are we staying in bed all day? I got nothing against it, but I just wanted to ask.”

Gabrielle’s smile was slow and sexy. “Oh yeah, we are. Glad you don’t have a problem with it. Consider this time. . .a prelude.”

Two ebony brows raised. “Oh, really. In that case, let me go hop in the shower. I smell like the mall.” She pulled the offending t-shirt away from her body. “Care to join me?”

The sexy smile got bigger as busy fingers followed an imaginary line down flat abs. “I’ll think about it. Let me go put these dishes up, and I’ll definitely think about it.”

****

Standing in front of the sink, Gabrielle rinsed breakfast dishes as she looked out the window. Green eyes did not really see anything because they were turned inward trying to deal with all the excited emotion within. ‘She’s so good to me. She stuck with me when I know that I was treating her like shit. I couldn’t ask for anyone better. The doctor told me to try and talk to her, open up to her a little bit everyday. It was hard telling her the vicious things he said about us. You were so wrong, Steve. She wants me, loves me, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. I won, and I’m going to keep on winning as long as she’s with me.’

Gabrielle fingered the new pendant with a free, wet hand. ‘It’s all coming back now, this thing we have between us. It was slow going at first, but I feel it. It’s here now. I see it when I look in her eyes, when she touches me. We can play, talk, and laugh. I’m so happy to have that back.’ She picked up a drying towel and moved over toward the cabinets with the dishes. ‘God, what she did today. It was such a surprise. I don’t even know how to describe how it felt. She wanted to make this one day special for me, for us, but I think she did that and more. I’ve never known her to be so eloquent, so gentle. I always said she didn’t talk much, but when she does, she makes it go straight to the heart.’

I love her so much for it, and I wish there was some way I could repay her for today. But, I know she doesn’t like jewelry or big presents. She’s a woman of action. Sometimes it’s the physical that she understands more. The physical. I can love her, touch her, show her.’ Gabrielle threw the drying towel in the sink and left the rest of the dishes on the counter before heading back to the bedroom. The tank top and shorts disappeared in short order, finding a place on the floor. Naked, she walked to the dresser to look for something that they should have used a long time ago.

Tara let the warm water sluice over her body, matting her hair to her back. For the first time in a while she felt lighter. The heavy feeling of guilt was still there, but the knowledge that it wasn’t going to be her secret anymore, lessened the load. She knew that she was going to have to fight for her when the times come. ‘I think that I’m ready.’ Lost in her own thoughts, she didn’t hear the bathroom door open. It was not until cool air hit her body as the shower door was slid open that the brunette’s attention was diverted. A smile tugged at her lips. “So, you decided to join me after all?” Tara turned to look at her lover through the steam. The smile fell and her breath caught as darkened green eyes did a frank sweep of her slick body. Those eyes finally met hers and what she saw in them made her quiver. Tara swallowed and her voice cracked. “Re-d?”

‘She wants it already. I can feel it, see it.’ The strawberry blonde thought to herself. She took a step forward until their bodies were almost touching, and the temperature in the shower changed from hot to scorching. The air hung heavy and crackled with energy. Taking one hand from behind her back, she reached out to touch. Full lips were first. The writer traced from the outline to the soft flesh within, and her stomach twisted in pleasure when a large tongue snaked out to lick a fingertip. Her breath hitched and turned slightly ragged, but she took another step forward, promoting contact. The enclosed shower echoed with twin moans as semi-erect nipples met and scraped tantalizingly. The lone finger trailed down to the older woman’s graceful neck. Tara lifted her head back, letting the water splash against her forehead. The hot water had nothing on the burning her lover’s touch caused. The brunette whimpered when the finger then the hand caressed the swell of her breasts. Tara braced her hands on the sides of the shower, and tried to lean back to force greater contact. She cried out when she got it as now fully erect nipples rubbed. “Oh, God, Red,” she husked.

Gabrielle watched on loving the display. Even with the wet hair, the flushed skin, and breathy moans, something was missing, and she wanted it all in order to give it back. “Look at me.” Tara moaned instead. “I said look at me.” The dark head lifted slowly as if the owner were drugged, and the petite woman wound her free hand in ebony hair to keep it upright. Pale blue glinted from under hooded lids, sparkling with the beginnings of need. Once she had her lover’s attention, Gabrielle spoke her mind in a throaty whisper. “I need you to do something for me.”

Tara knew who had the upper hand and replied breathlessly, “Anything.”

“Mmm, good. Say my name.”

The mechanic’s voice deep and thick as she did what she was told. “G-gabrielle.”

The strawberry blonde felt shivers assault her spine. It had been what she was looking for. Where there was a dull thud before, her body awakened with raging arousal. Moisture pooled between her legs, having nothing to do with the water, and her stomach throbbed and knotted in ecstatic waves. “Say it again,” she said huskily.

Again, Tara obliged. “Gabrielle.”

The younger woman whimpered. It was time to use her growing arousal to feed her lover’s, to make her burn, and ache until release was the singular goal. She pulled the brunette down toward her and without warning covered the other woman’s lips with her own. With a hot tongue, Gabrielle traced and played with her lover’s fuller bottom lip, and in sensual precision, she flicked and sucked, flicked and sucked until the mechanic’s mouth opened on a moan, allowing her inside wet heat.

Tara was on fire. Everywhere ached and burned, and she had barely been touched. It had been the sensual play of words and a playful caress that left her wanting. As tongues met moistly, she felt her insides clench in pleasure and an answering pulse between her legs. Hot water sprinkled down her back while hot wetness spilled down her thighs. Tongues slithered and dueled for position, and Tara groaned as hers found its placed, being sucked in the other woman’s mouth. The kiss went on becoming ferocious, uneven and frantic. The brunette mewed, feeling that she couldn’t taste enough or get deep enough. Winding both hands in damp hair, she changed the angle allowing her to sweep her tongue deep. A few seconds later, she whimpered in protest, when she felt the other woman pull back only to cry out as a fiery mouth attached itself to her neck. The little woman was relentless, sucking and nipping until the ebony covered head lolled forward. All too soon, the sizzling source of heat moved away going downward.

Gabrielle reveled in the taste of salty, sweet skin. The way it felt in her mouth, the texture was like the softest of silk, but she wanted more. An eager tongue traveled to the valley in between full breast. Not wasting time or energy, with the pink tip of her tongue, Gabrielle flicked a diamond hard nipple while plucking the other with deft fingers, loving the cry that followed.

“Unngh, feels—” Tara felt the touch reverberate all the way to her dripping center. With each flick, the nodule hidden between slick lips twitched in pleasure. Large hand found purchase once again in damp red-gold strands, urging her, pushing her to deliver more.

Opening her mouth wide, Gabrielle slowly sucked the nipple between her teeth into the warm cavern of her mouth. She moaned, feeling the flesh get impossibly more erect. Addicted, she sucked harder, swirling her tongue around the throbbing tissue. The word, ‘exquisite,’ rattled through her brain. The taste of her made the strawberry blonde’s head swim. She moved from one breast to the other giving them equal treatment. The sounds coming from the taller woman made her lover hungrier, wetter, and pushed her to do more. Wrenching her mouth away, the writer spoke in heated whispers. “Do you know how wet you make me? How much you make me want you?”

Tara reeled loving the sexy game they were playing. She wanted more. Her body demanded it, so she had no choice but to play her role. On shaky legs, and trembling thighs she stood tall, letting the syrupy consistency of arousal pump through her blood. She fought the urge to rub her aching sex against something preferably Gabrielle, and answered, “Tell me. Show me.” Narrowed blue eyes glinted with anticipation as she watched on.

With her unfettered hand, Gabrielle traced it down her body, palming a breast and caressing the jumping muscles of her abdomen until she finally came to her goal. Making sure azure was locked with emerald green, she dipped two fingers between her legs. She moaned as skilled fingers contacted hypersensitive nether lips and resisted the urge to close her eyes mesmerized by the almost painful look on her lover’s face. Circling the dripping opening, she drew from the abundant wetness.

Tara watched on, heaving breath into her burning lungs. It was useless. Each breath remained ragged. She whimpered in reaction to the sensuous moan, wishing it was her hand, her mouth, her tongue. Hungry eyes followed the fingers from their wet nest, and she licked dry lips in silent anticipation. Feeling impish, instead of offering the dripping fingers to her lover as she originally planned, Gabrielle painted her own pink nipples with it and almost smiled at the answering agonizing groan. She held up the breast with the same hand. Tara didn’t need to be told twice. Swooping down she give the ripe flesh a thorough lick before sucking it deep into her mouth. Gabrielle cried out as pleasure exploded through her body, gathering force between her legs. “Oh yeah, suck it.” Renewed wetness replaced what her fingers took away. This was the heat she had missed, the intensity that had been lacking. It was back full force. Devastating, Scorching, and unforgiving. She welcomed it with open arms and baited breath.

‘The taste of her. . .I can’t get enough.’ Tara whimpered in disappointment as the essence of her lover started to fade. She pulled on plump nipples with her teeth and flicked them with the tip of her tongue in an attempt to get it all. ‘So wet. She makes me so wet.’ She could feel it dripping down her thighs. Her center pulsed and throbbed with raw need, making her press trembling thighs together for relief. She stopped her ministrations, feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Glancing up with needful eyes, Tara raggedly spoke the one word that would ensure a release from this torture, “Please.”

Power made her body hum. To know that she could reduce this woman to begging left her ravenous. With predatory eyes, she studied the flush, lithe body. “Mine.” Tara simple nodded. “Good. Turn around and hold on to the bar in front of you.” She smiled as her lover’s body shook in impatience. Stepping to the side and reaching up, she adjusted the shower head to the right. Wanting both hands free, Gabrielle sat Larry in the now empty soap tray. Moving back up behind the her lover, she molded her body to her back, feeling the answering moan more than hearing it. Eager hands reached around to palm full breast, pinching and pulling taut nipples between thumb and forefinger while she branded the brunette’s muscular back with her own erect points of flesh. It felt so good to touch her like this, feel her like this that she had to tell her. “God, baby I love them. Love you tits.”

Fire shot from her front and back and it only served to make the one between her legs burn brighter and hotter. Tara wanted to rub against something, almost anything at this point. Her hips jerked forward with each tug. Gabrielle could feel her lover’s hips undulating forward, knowing the woman couldn’t take much more, she gave firm breasts one last squeeze before stepping back and dropping her hands around her lover’s slim waist. She used the leverage to kneel down in the slippery shower. Once there, Gabrielle let go and husked out loud enough for the other woman to hear, “Spread them for me.” Thighs parted with infinite ease. She kissed the cheek closest to her face and dipped her face between parted legs to inhale. The musky smell of arousal mingled with the unique smell of Tara greeted her, making her mouth water, her heart throb and sex flutter .

With both hands, Gabrielle parted fleshy globes and her tongue wasted no time in finding a home between wet folds. Hips jumped forward as their owner growled in delight and relief while the busy pink member lapped from one opening to the next. The petite woman paused over the puckered orifice and heard the loud intake of breath, and licked it gently then more forcefully as the moans came. Wanting to be thorough Gabrielle returned to the flushed coral opening and slurped at the juices spilling from it. It wasn’t enough. She had to have more. Curling her tongue, she speared deep inside her lover and whimpered at the taste, the feel, and the answering scream. Gabrielle’s head bobbed with the in and out motion and she freed a hand to reach around past silky black hair to the neglected ball of nerves. Using two fingers, she pressed and rubbed, her own arousal threatening to rage out of control. The redhead clamped her thighs shut, relishing the tremors that traveled all the way to the back of her thighs. Hoping that was enough for now.

Tara’s head rolled forward, resting on thecool tile as the water glanced off her right shoulder. Her throat felt raw and thick from screaming, but the pleasure bursting inside her made it all worth it. Her lover’s tongue felt a like hot, wet brand against the taller woman’s center, punishing it and riding it for all it was worth. The combined pleasure radiating from her clitoris made the mechanic dizzy, and she bucked her hips, striving to increase each one. Words both sexual and vulgar fell from her lips in an attempt to urge things on, “Unghh, fuck yes!”

Retracting her tongue, Gabrielle circled three fingers around her lover’s opening while keeping relentless pressure on the erect flesh in front. Feeling bold and naughty, she asked in as clear a voice as she could muster, “Tell me which one you want . . . this?” Unceremoniously, she submerged the digits deep inside, curling them to get to the point high and slick, and again the shower stall was filled with moans. Gabrielle continued to whimper at the feel of throbbing, hot flesh surrounding her fingers. She rested her head against Tara’s upper thigh as she pumped slow and deep, enjoying the way her lover’s hips thrust back to meet each stroke.

“Yeah, baby, harder!” the brunette begged.

The petite woman’s inner walls clenched and spasmed in empathy, but reluctantly, wanting her lover to feel the pleasure of both, she pulled out.

Tara almost cried in protest and tried vehemently to retain the fingers by contracting her inner muscles. She had felt so full, and had felt Gabrielle so deep inside that her inner walls now clenched helplessly at the unforgiving air. A minute ago, she had felt ecstasy winding through her belly and shooting out her fingers. Now, there was emptiness. Having no recourse, the taller woman concentrated on the delicious pressure at her front, only to sob aloud when that too disappeared.

Hearing the helpless sob, Gabrielle made shushing sounds as she reached for the vibrator. Silence followed as she brought it to her mouth for a thorough licking. After switching it on to the medium setting, which resulted in a quiet hum, the redhead again parted ample cheeks as far as one hand would allow her. It was enough. She brought Larry up to her lover’s exposed vulva and massaged the wet opening. Hoping that the older woman kept track of their earlier conversation, Gabrielle simply asked, “Or this?” Then plunged the well-lubricated toy a third of the way in.

“Oh fuck, yes, deeper.”

Gabrielle pulled out to the tip and plunged in again, going deeper. The resulting whimper was like music to her ears. Knowing that after all the torture she had endure, her lover needed a quick release, Gabrielle dipped into firm cheeks with her tongue, searching for the puckered prize. A surprised yelp let her know that she found it. She tongued it with quick firm strokes as she moved the vibrating toy slowly in and out. Jerky thrusts and trembling thighs alerted her to the inevitable, and she increased the speed.

Tara couldn’t stop it. The moaning, the thrusting. Lightening shot up her back with each thrust, each lick. She shamelessly tried to open her legs wider but the shower constricted her. So, instead, she bent her knees and settled for promoting harder thrusts, extending the streaks of electricity down the back her thighs. It was too hot, and the raven-haired woman was beyond too wet to sustain the pumping pleasure.

Like all great orgasms, she felt it coming from far away, gathering force until it made a strategic attack from all sides, leaving her open, raw, and aching. In a moment of poised perfection, dark hair streamed Tara’s back as she whipped her head backward and time stood still as a final scream reverberated. “Oh, baby, YEAH!” Her body went limp then quivered as pleasure seized her muscles. A white-knuckled grip on the bar in front of her was the only thing that kept the mechanic upright.

Having removed her tongue from its dark home, Gabrielle watched her lover’s display in awe. Feeling her own need reach the acute almost painful level, the writer remained coherent enough to admire perfection. She aided it by slowing the accessory to a hesitant hum, drawing the orgasm out until all the other woman could do was whimper and convulse. After a long minute, the redhead stopped the vibrations all together and slowly removed the toy from its moist nest, getting a hoarse groan as a reward. Hungry, needy green eyes peered at the slick toy. Whimpering, she licked it clean, and, needing more, she lapped at the juices between the other woman’s unsteady legs. Now that her lover was satiated, Gabrielle’s own need became paramount. She gingerly climbed to her feet and leaned against Tara’s sweat-soaked back, and turned off the water. After a moment that seemed to span an eternity, Gabrielle heard what sounded like a contented sigh. She continued to wait patiently until she finally heard a scratchy voice, “Red? Baby? I love you.” Gabrielle moaned breathlessly and whispered the words back while rubbing her aching body against her lover.

Tara still felt like she was floating in the highest level of heaven, but she was on earth enough to hear a tiny whimper of need. Gathering herself, she motioned to the woman on her back that she was about to turn around. Now looking down into burning green eyes, Tara reached for small, fisted hands and brought one to her mouth, placing a gentle kiss on it. Without a word, she led them out of the shower and back into the bedroom where she brought her lover to the release they both craved.

Coming full circle, Tara found herself in the same position that she had been in that morning with the late afternoon sun peaking through the blinds. Sighing, she scratched the naked abs under her hand and smiled at the resulting moan. For the time being, the heaviness was gone. Through touch, she had found solace and contentment. Through this woman’s touch she had found everything.
Story #13: Deep
The sun peaked through the raised blinds, casting shadows through the condensation on bedroom windows. The biggest star was high in the sky, but the occupants paid it no mind, only having eyes for each other. Still, it watched over them penetrating the brisk cold outside to shine warmth on their bodies in a blessing of sorts, but they were busy generating their own heat.

“Oh, God, T!” Gabrielle’s plea was a breathy moan as her body reared up from the mattress and arched like the tightest of bows. The lack of contact with the bed lent to her feeling of floating, flying almost, which she had been doing for some time. She had tried begging, pleading, and had even grabbed the dark head in an attempt to push it into her center deeper, where Tara’s mouth and tongue were needed. Each attempt had been futile. The brunette continued the long, languid, and slow strokes over the strawberry blonde’s entire sex with the flat of her tongue. Long fingers teased her opening, entering as far as the first knuckle and stopping to just play in liquid heat. A strong arm laid over slim hips, trapping them and keeping them from the frantic movement that the owner wanted to indulge in.

The petite woman was covered in sweat making her hair cling to her lips and face like moist drapery. Her chest heaved with each ragged breath and a sensual moan came with each breath exhaled. Gabrielle bunched wrinkled sheets in her fist and pulled them from the edges of the bed as her body arched again when Tara’s talented tongue teased over particularly sensitive spot. She cried out as electric tendrils of pleasure shot through her body like a fire tipped arrow.

This woman owned her body. This woman owned her soul, and this woman was her heart. At this moment in time she took it all, holding it in her hand and cherishing it in one of the ways she knew how by making love to her slowly and sweetly. Gabrielle gave it all freely. She didn’t have a choice.

Loving the way each pearly drop of arousal covered her face and wisps of her hair, Tara explored moist folds with her tongue, outlining each crevice, wallowing in different textures from silk to satin. Slim hips tried futilely to push her deeper, almost drowning her. She didn’t mind. She could breathe any day. Right now was what was important, loving Gabrielle, devouring and drinking her like an epicurean delight meant to be enjoyed and savored. Tara moaned as she drank from the endless tankard of the finest, sweetest wine.

She expressed with her mouth and tongue the things she had trouble saying. With a slow pass over soaked inner labia, she whispered, “I’ll give you everything, even what isn’t mine.” Gabrielle whimpered in response, taking what Tara had to offer. With a lazy flick over her lover’s sensitized clitoris, Tara murmured, “Thank you for finding me, loving me, and having me.” Once more, adding two eager fingers to tease at Gabrielle’s opening, she screamed, “Stay with me. I need you. Wanna be inside you, under your skin.”

Everything between them was give and take. With each instance of pleasure she gave Gabrielle, she took a little for herself—the sighs, the moans, the whimpers, taking her higher. Her legs were spread wide, and of their own volition her hips undulated against the bed, allowing her sopping mound to graze in the most delectable of places. Tara could feel the wetness pool between her thighs and spill onto the sheets, making the friction all the more delicious. When Gabrielle finally went over the cliff she was hanging from, Tara would be sure to fall with her and catch her at the end. She owed her so much. It was the least she could do. Tara reverently wrapped her lips around engorged flesh and speared fingers in deeper. With each gentle suck, she pulled the appendages out to the tip and plunged in again with well lubricated ease.

With eyes wide open, she memorized each fold. Glancing up at her lover’s flushed face, she drew it in her brain to save in its own special corner. It could be long while before she got to see Gabrielle this way, again, and she meant to burn the image into her psyche to keep and whip out at hard times. Decisions had been made as her lover slept last night—decisions that would probably change everything. She couldn’t take the guilt anymore. It wasn’t fair to Gabrielle or to herself. It was time to come clean. The way the strawberry blonde had touched her, worshipped her made her see that the other woman had the right to know who and what kind of person she was making love to. Tara had refused sleep, letting the night sounds surround her as did her thinking. Scenarios had played in her head. All of them gave her a view of Gabrielle’s back as she left, but they also contained her running behind her. By the early part of the morning, Tara concluded that no matter how long or how much it took that she would lead the strawberry blonde back into that door. Her efforts continued as. . .

Her tongue circled puckered flesh that continued to throb in her mouth, and her fingers delved a little deeper, eliciting a shout of joy from Gabrielle as she clenched inner muscles to keep them there.

Everything could change, but Tara knew she would still have this one moment in time when everything was perfect. It kept the tears at bay and made her take responsibility for her actions. She moaned at the sudden flash of wetness upon her mouth and chin. “Right here, right now. We belong to each other,” she mumbled with a hard suck.

“Tara!” Gabrielle screamed out her lover’s name for the umpteenth time in as many hours. Forever it had been since she was flying, but from far away she could feel the flight ending like all great ones do. Long, elegant fingers filled her to the hilt, and for some reason, she had never felt so full. They touched her everywhere—Tara’s tongue, her mouth, her fingers— making Gabrielle feel like nothing else existed save what she was feeling. The flicks of her lover’s tongue as well as the warm suction became harder, more compelling with each stroke.

Sweat poured off her body, and she wondered where it was coming from since surely all the moisture in her body was pooled between her legs. Her descention in altitude started somewhere deep in her belly and fluttered unequally to points north and south. South is where everything quivered and contracted as orgasm hot and fluid rushed up to meet her, making her body arch one last time before the tremors took control. Gabrielle sobbed and shouted her release to the ceiling imploring it to meet her if she went up again. From a distance she heard a harsh moan, but coherence was indeed a thing of the past as eddies of pleasure continued to whirl in her body.

Tara watched as ultimate pleasure culminated in her lover’s flushed face, imprinting it on her retinas. She greeted the sudden rush of sweet wetness with a wide open mouth. The pulling and contracting around her fingers shot through her groin like lightening and her lover’s scream clapped against her like thunder. It was enough. She fell, giving a triumphant shout as she went. Long minutes later, she crawled tiredly up Gabrielle’s body and pulled her into strong arms, catching her.

Laying in the wide bed facing each other, legs tangled and rubbed as green gazed into blue in wonder. Gabrielle felt all the pieces that had been out of place fall in with a pleasant thump. The connection between them had returned some time ago, but it had never been stronger as it was at this moment. The strawberry blonde realized something in the quiet moments of afterglow. Her need for Tara was elemental like that of air or water. She was sure without it she would die. She blinked and traced the chiselled face before her from eyebrow to chin. This should scare me to know I can’t function without her. Is it bad to love someone so much? Is it normal? I don’t care. It’s what I feel. Gabrielle smiled as the larger hand took hers and kissed each fingertip. Small hands found their way through thick, dark hair then traced from cheek to collar bone. “I can’t stop touching you, and I don’t want to,” Gabrielle whispered.

Tara closed her eyes briefly and hummed in delight, feeling each touch like a fire brand. ” I don’t want you to stop,” she said through a small smile that she didn’t feel. So I can save it all up for later. Remember it all for when you won’t want to touch me again.

Gabrielle moved forward and kissed lips softly, briefly before backing away to reconnect with the gaze. “You made me feel. . . I don’t have any words for it.”

“I feel it every time I touch you, Red.” Tara’s smile was sad even though she tried so hard to hide it.

Concern darkened jade eyes. She looks so sad. Like she’s going to lose something or already lost it. “What’s wrong?” The writer traced the lines around her lover’s mouth, seeing and feeling them tremble.

Taking her mind back to happier times, Tara was able to give a convincing smile this time. “It’s nothing just a little overwhelmed. I can’t believe I found you.” Knew I couldn’t be that lucky to keep you, and you will leave, Red, when you find out how stupid and undeserving I am, but I will fight my hardest to bring you back.

Gabrielle looked deeper, praying not to see that look again. It was gone. But it was there. Why? What’s going on in your head? And it’s been so long since you touched me like that. Her own brow scrunched. I can’t make her talk if she’s not ready. Maybe Doc White can help. The writer raised up a little on her elbow then rested her chin on her hand. She could feel the cool gold against her skin and remembered snatches from yesterday. “No, I think we found each other. You are so good to me.”

Tara grinned wanly, “Only because you make it so easy, love, and there is that little thing about me loving you.” Forever, Red.

Gabrielle’s nose crinkled in response, “Oh yeah, there is that.” She twirled a dark strand of hair around her finger. Her expression was thoughtful. “Is there a word stronger than love, something that goes deeper?”

A dark brow raised. “Deeper? Don’t know a word for it, but I know what you mean.”

“You do, huh?” She affectionately tugged on the strand of hair around her finger. So you feel it too. Thought so. “I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s like what I feel could go on. . .”

“Forever?” T interrupted.

Gabrielle’s reply was soft as she gazed into gentle blue. “Yeah, like it’ll never end.” Her head canted to the side as searching fingers found full lips. “Does that scare you?”

It scares me that –that concept will be null and void. It scares me because I won’t know how to bring it back to you. The sadness the brunette was feeling was in direct contradiction with her actions. A mask of contentment was firmly in place. Maybe I’ve become very good at lying to myself. Tara pursed her lips, kissing the fingers against them and ran a large hand down the curve of a shapely hip. “No, it doesn’t scare me at all. Especially when I feel it too. It’s sort of like through all the crap, I know we belong together. I know we’ll work things out and become stronger because neither one of us has a choice.” She paused for a moment smiling crookedly. “You know, that sounds so unhealthy on the surface, but it’s factual.”

Gabrielle nodded and grinned, “I know. Was thinking the same thing earlier. I think that’s what love is forgiving and selfless. It’s like an entity by itself, and it’ll do anything to survive to make itself stronger.” Her grin widened, “They talk about it in romance novels you know.”

“Huh?” The mechanic asked, confused.

The strawberry blonde chuckled happily. “Us, true love, soulmates or whatever you want to call it. It’s all the corny stuff that makes women swoon. We have that.”

I know, Red. That’s how I know we’ll be together. That’s how I know I can win you back after this. I have to keep that hope. For that reason alone, she felt somewhat lighter. “Yea, I know. I think that’s what Shannon sees when he says we light up the room.”

Gabrielle snickered and leaned in for a quick kiss. “No, dear. I think that’s sexual tension. We have this energy between us, or so I’m told. Don’t you feel it?” She leaned forward again flicking her lover’s lips with an errant tongue.

Tara growled and enjoyed the shiver that passed through her body. “Oh yea. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.” Her voice had lowered an octave. With a surprise lead, she pounced on top of her lover, tangling their legs and stretching the petite woman’s arms above her head. “Gotcha!” Tara’s smile was lecherous.

Gabrielle squealed and bucked her hips in an effort to dislodge the pleasant weight. She groaned as strong hips ground down into hers in retaliation. “No fair,” she said breathlessly. “Bigger than me!” The giggling started as a large hand snaked down to tickle the sensitive sides of her torso. Gabrielle arched her back, causing nipples to scrape and making them suddenly aware of their nudity and closeness.

Tara hissed at the contact then sobered. Sitting up, she straddled slim hips and looked down into the strawberry blonde’s flushed face. She released imprisoned wrist, leaving her hands as well as her partner’s free. Tara gently traced from eyebrows to lips and sighed when lips puckered to kiss her fingers. Smaller hands roamed from the tops of her thighs to her lover’s waist, but Tara ignored the electric contact to speak her mind. Her voice was soft but husky. “I may be bigger, Red, but you are so strong. You’re the strongest woman I’ve ever met. You’ve been through so much and came out of it still kicking. Amazing.” One more time, baby. Be strong just once more, and let’s get through this.

Green bore into blue shining with emotion. She still doesn’t know? Without her, I would be nowhere. Probably locked somewhere in a box in my mind. “You helped me so much. Without you here, I would have just been screaming in pain instead of kicking to come out of this.” She squeezed the tops of powerful thighs for emphasis.”

Tara moved forward, lowering herself to her elbows, allowing hands to play in their second favorite playground, Gabrielle’s hair. While traipsing through silk, she peered deep into green, seeing yellow flecks that made the color luminous. Her eyes held conviction, and for an instant, Tara believed. “I guess we’re saving each other,” she whispered.

A smirk turned the strawberry blonde’s nose up in all the right places. “Guess so.”

Tara leaned in to pay homage to her savior, but the shrill ring of the phone stopped her. With an irritated growl, she reached for the phone and barked, “Hello!”

“Well damn! Tell Gab to get from between your legs and talk to me.” The brunette rolled her eyes and shoved the phone in Gabrielle’s direction. “It’s Shannon. Tell him he’s just jealous ‘cause I get more sucking action than he does,” Tara added in a sing song voice.

The writer let out a burst of laughter before putting her ear to the phone, hearing her friend grumble in response. “Hey! Don’t tear into me. You started it!”

“Yea, yea, tell her I’ll have a snappy come back later in the day. It’s too hard this early in the morning, but tell her it’s gonna be a good one so be prepared!”

“Yeah, whatever, so what’s up?”

“Not much just called to see how my favorite couple was doing. I called my second favorite but Catt’s been hanging ‘round Lil too long. She insulted me before I could even say dark and curly’s name.”

Gabrielle cackled, “I knew my sis would be a good influence on her, so you’d better stay on your toes. But we’re fine. Guess we’re getting up in few. I’m getting hungry, and somebody has to cook.” The strawberry blonde mock slapped her lover’s naked belly.”

Shannon’s tone of voice changed to serious. “I’m serious, Gab. I haven’t seen you in ages, and I’m kinda worried. Wayne is too.” There was a pause then a muffled sound. “Hold on, Wayne wants to talk to ya.”

“Hey, beautiful. How are you?”

Smiling into the phone at the same time as she smiled into baby blues, Gabrielle answered, “I’m doing fine. I don’t know what I woulda done without this one here.” The dark had descended, now pillowed on the strawberry blonde’s chest. She ran her fingers through dark silk and leaned down to kiss the top of her lover’s head. “I’m sorry I haven’t allowed you guys to come over. It’s just been a while since I’ve been comfortable around people. I’m getting there though.”

“Well, I understand, Gab, but we’re your friends. It’s kinda hard for us to be left out of the loop like that.”

The writer blew out a pained breath. “I know, and I’m sorry. Maybe I should have said I wasn’t comfortable around men. Does that make better sense?”

His voice was strangled. “Yea, it does. We don’t want to cause you any discomfort.”

“Hey, perk up. You guys will be back over here making T pull her hair out in no time. Just give me a little while longer. T’s, going to my appointment today with me. The doc wants to start seeing the both of us.” Gabrielle felt the brunette stiffen on top of her. She rubbed a small hand down the length of her back in a soothing gesture then tapped her on the shoulder in order to get the dark head to rise. She had to see what she was thinking. Come on, baby. Stay with me here. It’ll be okay.

Tara took in a shaky breath before revealing her face. She knew her nervousness was showing, but she hoped that was all. Don’t look too deep, Red. You may not like what you see.

Gabrielle traced the scrunched lines of Tara’s forehead in an effort to smooth them out. “I think everything will be okay.” She said it for Wayne’s benefit as well as the mechanic’s.

“Well, tell her to keep taking good care of you. Hell, you two take good care of each other. We’re about to head out to work and just wanted to make sure things were copasetic with you guys. So, let me get off here.” There was another pause. “Shannon says bye, and I say we love you guys. Take care.”

Gabrielle smiled at the sentiment. “You too. I’ll talk to you guys soon.”

Knowing the whereabouts of the phone by heart, she reached for the cradle with no problems then turned her attention back to the brunette. “Hey, you okay?” Her gaze was thoughtful.

I hate lying to her, but it’ll all stop in a few hours. “Yea, just nervous I guess. I got a lot of revealing to do about us and about myself. Just got to get used to doing it in front of a stranger.”

Gabrielle hugged the taller woman to her. “It’ll be okay. You’ll like her because she’s very easy going, and before you know it, you’ll be spilling it like you’re talking to a bartender.”

Tara buried her face back into the strawberry’s blonde ample chest and mumbled, “I hope so.” God, I hope so.

****

As always, breakfast was full of fanfare and teasing. They sat across the table from each other talking about everything and nothing. Gabrielle watched as the dark-haired mechanic added what seemed like the tenth dash of salt to her eggs. She smirked and wrinkled her nose. “Hey, you want a couple more eggs with your salt? And you talk about me with the sugar, sheesh.”

Tara pointed her fork at her lover. “Uh-huh, I don’t say anything ‘bout your sugar water anymore, but you might as well eat donuts and pastries in the morning.”

The writer grinned, lighting up her eyes with affection. “Touché. Let’s just agree that we both have atrocious eating habits.” She took a sip of her coffee and mumbled under her breath, “At least, I don’t hang up my underwear and button my shirts all the way to the top on the hanger. Talk about anal.”

Tara’s eyes widened, “Hey! I heard that. You wanna whisper a little louder?” She smiled devilishly and lunged for her lover.

Gabrielle squealed and tried to scoot the chair back out of the way. It was a futile attempt. Tara’s tall form loomed over her, imprisoning her in the chair with strong arms that held on to the back. Deft hands found ticklish spots through the long t-shirt the writer was wearing. She yelped and shook her head from side to side in uproarious laughter. Small, shaky hands tried vehemently to dislodge stronger ones. It didn’t work, and Gabrielle laughed harder.

Tara looked down with a pleased expression lighting her face. Look at her, so beautiful, especially when she’s laughing. I love that sound, and I’m glad to have it back. I’m so glad to have you back, baby, and I won’t lose you because of my stupidity. We’ll get through this just like we have everything else. I hope to God we do.

The beauty sitting before the brunette called to her, and she couldn’t resist its lure. She never could. Tara’s needs to strengthen their bond and imprint the woman on her brain were paramount. The tickling stopped and became long, languid caresses up and down the strawberry’s blonde torso. She grazed erect nipples with her fingertips on her way down to the taut belly and whimpered when her lover arched and moaned.

Gabrielle’s breathing turned ragged, and she was awed at the speed in which teasing turned to torturous fire. She welcomed it. Each touch brought along with it a soothing balm and a liquid inferno that shot through her veins, thickening her blood. She cried out when talented fingers tweaked her diamond hard nipples. Their gazes caught and held, and Gabrielle couldn’t turn away from the flushed, blazing desire that mirrored her own. Her body arched and her head rose to meet slowly descending lips. It seemed like an eternity.

Tara groaned as the need to taste her lover anywhere, everywhere became overpowering. She lowered her head slowly and with veiled purpose to meet glistening lips. Just when it seemed like it was going to take forever, Tara swooped down and pillaged her lover’s mouth with a kiss meant to arouse, burn, and love madly.

It did what it was supposed to do.

Gabrielle groaned loud, long and with harsh relief. She opened her mouth wide to receive as well as give homage to sensually moving tongues and held onto broad shoulders with a vice like grip, needing something to latch onto for the fall. Then, just as quickly as the fire was given, it was taken away, making the strawberry blonde cry out in painful loss.

Tara tore her lips away and pulled the petite body up and into hers. Short strong legs wrapped around her waist, and she shuffled them toward the bedroom with haste. The table would have been a prime place as well as the couch or chair, but Tara’s brain was wrapped around the sensual spill of water. They made it to the bathroom in record time and removed clothes just as quickly. Once under the spray of hot water, Tara held the strawberry blonde up and made urgent, hungry love to her with her hands, mouth, and tongue until her cries reverberated off the shower walls and her knees gave way, leaving her body boneless and liquid.

A long time later, they got dressed. Tara watched as the strawberry blonde still shaky after their long bout of lovemaking pulled on her clothes. Green eyes turned to her still glazed, and her face held the flushed, content look of the well loved. The mechanic smiled back, albeit wanly. She should be happy that she had put that look there, but an ominous cloud had descended. Her hands shook for a different reason. Can I tell her? There’s no choice I have to, regardless of what happens. Yeah, but what do I do if she runs out on me? What do I do? A little voice from deep inside answered her, “You win her back by first winning her trust.” Tara blew out a calming breath and nodded her head almost imperceptivity. It was almost time to go.

During the drive over, Gabrielle watched her lover from the corner of her eye. She’s so quiet. Maybe she needs time to think and get prepared for this. The writer idly played with the gold necklace as if to gather some kind of insight. I wasn’t prepared for a little while ago. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so needy. Is there something going on that I’m not seeing? Needing reassuring contact, Gabrielle reached out a hand and squeezed her lover’s knee and gave the brunette a hopeful smile that wasn’t returned. I hope she shows me soon. Please, God. Don’t let anything be wrong.

Once at the doctor’s office, Tara stopped the car and glanced over at her lover before taking a deep breath. She had withdrawn into herself with each mile the car ate. In her mind, it had been necessary because she knew hurting Gabrielle in anyway was going to be difficult. It was as if it was going against her nature, but she did attempt a token effort toward normalcy by grabbing a small hand and bringing it to her lips. She turned the hand over in her own, gently mapping each vein, each line, and any mark she saw with fingertips. Looking up, Tara gave her lover a shaky smile only to find green eyes intense upon her own. “What is it?” I am so tired of fucking lying!

Gabrielle shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. You tell me. Something is going on in there.” She glanced toward the top of the dark head. What are you thinking? I used to know just by looking at you. We still have far to go.

Tara turned away and swore silently. She took her hands away and busied them by taking the keys from the ignition and finding a suitable jean pocket to put them in. You see too much, baby. You always did.

The strawberry blonde sighed and repeated words she had heard the brunette say not too long ago. “When you’re ready to talk, I’ll be here.” Please don’t hide from me for long. Don’t be hiding anything from me.

Without another word, Gabrielle watched as Tara’s long form exited the car in graceful fashion. A few seconds later she followed suit. The brunette waited for her lover at the end of the walk way, and when she felt the petite woman’s presence, she turned to engulf her in a full body hug. This is for now because you may not let me do it later. “No, matter what, Red, remember that I love you.”

Green eyes widened in part fear and part confusion. Gabrielle swallowed and squeezed bits of the leather jacket in her hands. She buried her face in leather absorbing the familiar, comforting smell. Somehow, she heard the quick, strong beat of Tara’s heart. A second later she felt the lanky form trembling. The fear was real now, and it translated to her. Looking up with shock and worried eyes, the strawberry blonde asked in a shaky voice, “T, does this scare you that bad? Maybe you’re not ready. . .”

Tara peered downward with haunted eyes. “I’m scared of a lot of things, Red, and I’m tired of running from ‘em.” Blue eyes closed, and she could feel the tears come. They burned and dripped from closed lids in fat drops.

The writer watched on in horror. Her breath hitched then came out ragged. “Oh, baby, you’re scaring me.” She started to cry in reflex, knowing something was terribly wrong. She reached up to wipe tears away. “T, please tell me what’s wrong.”

Tara took smaller hands and ensnared them into her own. “It’ll be okay. Whatever happens, I have to believe that, and you need to too.” Red, please don’t ask anymore questions just trust me. The brunette almost laughed out loud at the statement. Trust indeed.

A sinking feeling started in the pit of Gabrielle’s stomach, and it seeped to her chest, taking her heart with it. An old fear resurfaced and latched on. Please, no. “You’re leaving me? Please don’t leave me!” Jade eyes were wild and frightened, and her voice was a sob.

I keep hurting her! This is the last time baby. I promise. Tara released her lover’s hands in favor of cupping her now wet cheeks. She shook her gently. “Baby? Red! Look at me! I would never, ever leave you and that is a promise I intend to keep no matter what.” She could feel her heart splitting in two.

Some semblance of control returned to Gabrielle at the words, but understanding did not. “Then. . . why?” She wiped at the tears, feeling the cold hit them.

Tara leaned in and their foreheads touched. “Just trust me and be patient.” After a few more minutes in the embrace, the fair head nodded, but the troubled eyes stayed along with the palpable fear.

Tara lead Gabrielle to one of the couches to sit down. The smaller woman held a vice like grip on her hand, and Tara returned it. They both needed an anchor—Tara to keep from flying apart, and Gabrielle to hold onto something she felt she was losing.

Long minutes later, they found themselves inside the doctor’s office still holding hands but sitting beside each other in deep leather chairs. Tara searched the walls. She looked anywhere but into green. Too soon, they would see the truth that had been hiding there. Framed degrees and family photos lined the walls, as well as rows of books encased in bookshelves.

Plush carpeting covered the floor, and a large desk stood in the middle. It was covered with papers, books and little knick-knacs, making the doctor seem human, as well as the surroundings comfortable. Tara studied the doctor herself. Dr. Michele White. She was tall, and blonde with strands of grey standing out around her temples. Her eyes were a warm brown, and her features were relaxed as her eyes snapped with intelligence.

While the mechanic studied her surroundings, Gabrielle studied her lover simultaneously. All this time, she’s been hiding something from me, and I’ve been so caught up in my own problems that I didn’t see it. It’s so obvious now that it’s been eating her up inside, but from the beginning she wore a brave face, for me. Is this how she felt when I didn’t talk to her? This emptiness this helplessness? How did she do it? I’ve only felt it for a few minutes and can barely stand it. She was broken from her thoughts when Dr. White cleared her throat.

“Okay, ladies. Good to see you.” Her voice was soft but confident. “Tara, since this is your first time, I’m going to urge Gabrielle to talk to you. I think she has a lot to tell you. After that, we can discuss, you can talk, or anything you ladies want, okay?”

They both nodded.

The strawberry blonde swallowed nervously. I’m scared. I just feel that anything I say will compound her situation. I need to know what she’s feeling. Jumping, she looked down when her hand was squeezed. Silently, sky blue eyes implored her to speak. A soft smile said the rest. Gabrielle looked back down at their joined hands and closed her eyes. Maybe if I start, she’ll open up to me. Glancing back up, she returned the sentiment with a warbly grin of her own. “Um, I-I think you know that I’ve already shared a lot with you about what Steve did to me. . .what he said.” She laughed softly. “There was a time when I couldn’t even say his name, but Doc helped me see that I needed to face things before I conquered them.” She turned in the chair, needing to be closer.

“He made me feel that what we have is dirty, and I still have problems seeing what we share as natural. I love you so much that I feel you in here and here.” Gabrielle rested a palm over her heart and temple. “I always thought it was dangerous and obsessive to love like that, so completely, and he played on that. When I k-killed him, I could see you face. In a way, you’re what made me do it. He was touching something that didn’t belong to him, and it doesn’t belong to me either. My heart, my body, and soul belong to you. I couldn’t let him take that from you, from us. I had to protect us. I felt so guilty that I took a life to save us. I don’t feel that so much anymore because of you and the Doc. He was bad, evil even, and love is always good. I learned that, but it took awhile. He made me feel dirty, made us feel dirty. I didn’t want you to touch me. I didn’t want to look at you because I felt what was between us was so wrong. Um, when we made love again for the first time, I did it more out of need then anything else. It wasn’t you I was seeing. I was just purging my system, getting him out., but it didn’t work. I could hear him laughing at me. Even when mom came, I could hear him always laughing.” Her head lowered. “I’m so sorry. I feel so ashamed.”

Dr. White interjected, “That’s what we’re working on now, her shame. She needs to see it as a normal human emotion, a reaction to all that has happened not a reflection on her as a bad person. I think we both can help with that.”

Tara looked over at the doctor than down at her lover’s bowed head. Her voice was hoarse and thick, and she reached out her free hand to touch the top of the strawberry blonde’s head. “Red, I didn’t know. I had no idea you felt all that. When we first met I know things went way fast. We didn’t take the time to get to know each other like we should have. I hate that. I didn’t find out till later that you were new to this lifestyle. If I could go back, I would make sure that we take things slow so we could get to know each other. I want speaking to me to be just as easy as breathing. We don’t have that sometimes. . .well, a lot of times. If we had taken things slow I would have shown you how much of loved you and there would be no way you could be ashamed. I-I know it’s powerful, and I would be lying if I said it didn’t scare me sometimes.”

Green eyes bore into blue. “It scares me too. More than it should. I think that’s how he got to me.”

With helpless eyes, Tara turned to look at the doctor. She swallowed. “I don’t know what to do. It seems like I never do.”

Dr. White nodded, “That’s understandable but maybe you’re thinking too much. What are your instincts telling you?”

Tara shook her head. “They’re telling me to protect her, but I did a piss poor job. I wasn’t there when she needed me.”

The doctor pursed her lips. “Are you psychic?” The dark head shook negative. “You were at work right?”

“Yeah, I was, but. .”

“No, no to get through this guilt, Tara, you need to tell Gabrielle how you felt, how you still feel. Remember, face it before you conquer it.”

Jade and azure met once more. Gabrielle studied her lover’s face. Her eyes flicked back and forth over it, taking in the tension. Open up to me and tell me what’s tearing you apart like this.

Tara understood the message. She had so much to unburden, and she didn’t know where to start. The beginning. The beginning is a good place. The brunette turned completely in her chair and reached over to brush away strands of red gold. She tried to hide the shaking of her hand, but astute eyes discerned it. Small hands brought her larger one to full lips where the softest of kisses was placed. I know all about shame and helplessness, Red. I wish I didn’t. Time to start at the beginning.

“Red, I don’t think I ever felt as helpless in my life as when I came home and found you kneeling on the floor. I saw your blood, and it felt like my insides had been ripped out.” She covered her mouth with her hand to choke back tears that were just inches away from being born. “Then to see the evidence of what you had to go through, something inside me died because I wasn’t there to stop it. I know we don’t live in the Ice Age, but I know your secret, baby. You’re not as tough as you seem to be. . .”

Gabrielle shook her head with vehemence. Her voice was a croak, “But, it wasn’t your fault. You didn’t know. . .”

Tara’s tone of voice was high and emotional, “Don’t you see? That doesn’t matter. I thought you blamed me! Everytime you turned away from me, wouldn’t talk to me, I thought you were blaming me for not being there, not protecting you. I couldn’t take. I felt shame too, Red. I wanted to run from you and to you at the same time to try and make it up to you. More often than not I ran and did somethings that I’m not proud of.” Tara shook her head and hung it, unable to continue for the moment.

Gabrielle touched the bent head, hesitantly, reverently. Her eyes were sad and laced with unshed tears. “Oh, baby. I didn’t know. I never meant to hurt you. I was so caught up in my own pain that I didn’t see all that you were going through.” The couple was silent, concentrating on touches to communicate old pain.

Dr. White watched them in surprise. This was just supposed to be an assessment session. “You two have made a major breakthrough already. It’s good to keep the lines of communication open, even if they just now opened. From what I see of the dynamics of your relationship so far, it isn’t uncommon for Tara to see you as fragile Gabrielle. You’ve never been romantically involved with a woman and then there was pressure from your family at first. It’s completely understandable that Tara would think the way she has. Can you understand her guilt, Gabrielle? Relate to it even?”

The strawberry blonde wiped her eyes and nodded. “Yea, I can. She was hurting for me, with me on top of her own pain. I just can’t believe that I didn’t see it.”

“Well, it’s important that you know now. Now comes dealing with this. Tara?” She waited for the brunette to look up. “It’s very important here that both of you see the necessity of opening up. When one of you is in pain and not expressing it, it will come out one way or another and more than likely aimed toward the one you love. It’s very important that we re-establish intimacy between you two. From what you said earlier, this is one of your goals to take things slow and get to know each other.

There’s nothing wrong with starting all over again. If you are both willing? You can look at is as establishing equality in your relationship. We can get started as early as the next session. It’s all up to you two. What we’re doing today is for assessment purposes. You both gave a little to see where you stand. The more sessions we have the deeper we will go.”

Gabrielle stared at her doctor with a small but crooked smile. They had a place to start, a jumping point, and the strawberry blonde was willing to see where it led them. “I’m game,” she whispered. With a sudden frown, she looked at their joined hands and felt Tara’s grip go lax. She glanced upward to see the dark head still bowed, but shaking. “T, what is it? Talk to me.”

The brunette’s head continued to shake along with the rest of her body. Both Gabrielle’s and the doctor’s words reverberated in her head like a bad echo. “Pain.” “Communication.” “Opening up.” “Guilt.” They were all reasonably small words that had a tsunami like impact. She was guilty of causing pain. She was guilty of not communicating and opening up, but most of all she was guilty of almost perpetrating a betrayal. She was just plain guilty, and right now, at this moment in time, it weighted on her shoulders like the Rock of Gibraltar.

It drowned out the other emotions and sang through her blood like it had found a permanent home. I can’t do this anymore! I can’t! We have to get this out in the open so we can fix this. Tara looked up with pleading eyes and yanked her hand from her lover’s grip. Her voice was pained, ragged, “You know I love you, Red, but I can’t do this anymore. I can’t lie. I’ve never been a liar, and it feels like every time I asked you to trust me it’s been a lousy stinkin’ lie! I’m the guilty one here! Not you! I ran away when you needed me!” Her body stiffened and began to rock.

She crossed her arms across her chest and held on to keep from flying apart. While she didn’t reach out with her hands, she did so with her eyes. The silver-blue begged for forgiveness and understanding. “I ran right to her! I don’t even remember her name. All I know is she looked like you, and I wanted what I couldn’t have. I didn’t take it, but I came so close, Red. So close. I touched her, kissed her like I kiss you. Then, I ran like hell!”

Gabrielle shook her head from side to side and silently mouthed the words, ‘no’ over and over again. She jumped up from her seat and moved as far away from the brunette as possible. Pain lanced her, more pain than she had even known. She wanted to cry out to relieve the pressure, but the words wouldn’t come.

Tara stood up abruptly and reached out her hands to the woman across the room. Dark eyes implored, beckoned, but she know the strawberry blonde wasn’t going to listen. Her hands dropped to her side, and her body sagged as her voice lost its passion. “You say you’re ashamed. I know about shame too, Red. I came home from almost being with her and made love to you. I know all about it.” Large, elegant hands moved through sable tresses. Then, they came back to cover her face and muffle her sobs. She didn’t want to see the pain or the rejection—none of it.

The words finally came out with a vehemence she wasn’t sure existed inside. “Nooo! Don’t call me that! Don’t you dare call me that! The Tara I know would never do this! You don’t deserve to use that name!” Her hands whipped the air with angry expression. “How dare you come home with another woman’s stink all over you and touch me! I’m not your whore!” With tears now falling like a steady rain on her flushed face, she sobbed, and a high keening sound came from somewhere deep inside. “The first time things get really bad, you run! Oh, God! How can I ever trust. . .” Her hands balled into fists, and she pummelled the air. Her voice was choked, “How can I trust you? Look at me!” Gabrielle screamed. “Tell me how?!!”

Tara’s head jerked up on command, and there it was all laid bare in her lover’s face, all the pain and betrayal a person would never want. The brunette’s heart shivered then split in two. She peered back at the doctor for help, but her face was somber. Tara remembered about following her instincts, and they led her directly toward her lover. “Baby, I’m so sorry, and I wanted to tell you.” Her voice was thick from crying. “It was eating me up inside, and I didn’t want to add to your pain.”

Gabrielle’s voice was pleading, “No, please just don’t. . .don’t touch me.” She hugged herself then looked around the office with dripping eyes. “I’m sorry. I can’t stay here. I have to. . .” She covered her mouth with her hand and ran for the door.

Frozen in place, Tara yelled, “Gabrielle!” But, all she heard was the slamming of the door. Wild blue eyes scanned the office, as if it had all been a dream. “She left me. Oh, God. She left me.” Her knees gave way and she sat down heavily on the arm of the chair. A huge hole opened in her chest, and she felt as though she was bleeding on the floor. Only one person could fix her. “I have to get her back. Make her trust me again.”

For the first time in a while, Dr. White spoke, “No, Tara. I know this is going to be hard, but you need to give her time. Then, try to talk to her. You can’t make her trust you again. She has to want to.”

“You don’t understand! I need her! She’s the strong one. I love her so much.”

Michelle came from around the desk and leaned over the distraught brunette. “Listen, remember what you said earlier about starting over and taking it slow?” Tara nodded then sobbed. “That’s what you have to do now. You have to re-learn each other. It won’t be easy, and it may take a while. Take some time to think about this then follow your heart.

Tara hiccupped, hoping beyond hope that Dr. White was right. “Do you think she’ll come back to me?” She wiped the tears with the backs of her hand.

“I can’t give you the answer to that, but if you want to salvage this relationship you have to try.”

A little ray of hope pierced through the veil of pain. “Yeah, I gotta try.”

****

Gabrielle hopped the first city bus going anywhere. She ignored the curious onlookers and stared out of the window at nothingness that’s what she saw nothing. The pain blinded her to things around. She remembered the time they had made love after Tara came home. It had been raw, needy. Was it all a lie? Did she give me some leftovers from another woman? I just don’t understand. How could she? What we have is supposed to be stronger than that. I gave her all of me, and it wasn’t enough. Blunt nails bit into her fisted palms, but it was just a different kind of pain. She ignored the little whispers at the back of her mind that asked, “Did you give her all? What about her pain? Isn’t she human?”

“No!” She cried out. There were whispers and more stares. Gabrielle continued to ignore them.

The scenery whipped by her until a house stood out screaming to be recognize. The strawberry blonde pulled the cord and walked briskly toward the exit. She sauntered up the walkway with a purpose. After ringing the bell several times, the door opened, and the likeness in the eyes, chiselled features and hair stole her breath and brought a new wave of agony. He looks so much like her, but he isn’t her just like the woman back at the Doc’s office wasn’t the Tara I know.

Jake smiled then sobered when he looked into stormy green and noticed dried tracks of tears on her cheeks. “Gab? What’s wrong? Something happen to T?!”

The tears started fresh at the sound of her name. “Oh, God. I don’t know her anymore!” Gabrielle threw herself into his arms, and he shuffled them both back inside the house. Jake sat her down in a nearby chair then looked down at her in surprise. “What’s going on here? Did something happen between you two?”

Suddenly warm, Gabrielle tore the coat from her body. Her voice was almost lifeless, “No, something happened between her and another woman.”

Two dark eyebrows raised in disbelief. “No way. There is no way Tara would have cheated on you. She loves you too much to make that mistake.”

The writer cringed. “That’s what I thought, but she’s shown me a different side to her. One I don’t know.”

He lifted a hand to stop her. “Hold up. She’s not a box, and she doesn’t have sides. What you see is what you get with T. There are certain nuances to her personality, but they make her who she is. I know for a fact she would never sleep with another woman. It’s been done to her too many times.”

Gabrielle’s head hung, and she mumbled, “Well, they didn’t have sex, but she touched her, kissed her then came home and fucked my brains out!”

Jake threw his hands up in the air. “Ah, hell, Red. That just means you’re the one she wanted—the one she wanted to connect with!” He paused and walked over to where she was sitting. Taking a seat, Jake asked softly, “Do you still love her?”

She snorted in indignation. “Well, that’s a stupid question! I’m not going to stop loving her within a few minutes!”

He reared back. “Okay, okay let me rephrase that. Do you want to stop loving her?”

It took a long time for her to answer. Memories swam before her eyes. She could see them dancing, laughing, playing, and she could almost here Tara whispering in her ear, singing in her ear. “No, I don’t think I can,” she said hoarsely. “But, how can I trust her after this? How do I know she won’t go running to another woman when things get tough between us?”

Jake shook his head. “I think this was a special case, but still, you just believe. That’s what trust is.”

“Yeah, but how do I get it back?” She leaned into him.

“Don’t know. Start back over I guess. Speaking of which you should let her know that you’re okay.” He put an arm around her shoulders and squeezed. “I will, but can I stay here.”

Jake nodded. “Yeah, as long as you need to. Now, let’s go make that phone call.”

****

Tara stared at the phone then paced around it. She wanted to give her lover the space she needed, but Tara wanted to make sure she was somewhere safe. “She can’t be over Shannon’s. They’re at work. She couldn’t have gone home. She didn’t have her purse. Where are you, baby?” She whispered to herself then gazed back at the phone. “Please call me and let me know you’re okay.” The brunette sat down on the couch with a muted thump. Start over. Where do I start? How do I get her to even talk to me? I saw the hurt in her eyes. I have to think. I fucked up. We know that already. I admit that. Now, I have to show her who the real Tara is—the one that adores her and would do anything for her. First, I think I should show her how sorry I am. . . Her thoughts were interrupted by a shrill sound. She looked down at the phone and raised a sable brow in surprise. Hesitantly, she picked it up. “H-Hello?”

“Hey, T.”

She couldn’t’ hide the disappointment in her voice. “Oh, hey Jakie.”

“Don’t sound so disappointed even though you have a reason to be. I heard about what happened.”

“Huh? Oh, how—”

“Let’s just say a little bird told me.”

Suddenly anxious, Tara cleared her throat and added, “Um, okay.”

“What would you like to say to little bird right now?”

Tara’s heart hammered against her chest. Okay, it begins. “Um, I would say that there is no excuse for what I did. I’m an ass, and I know that. Still, I’m an ass who loves the little bird and wants to work it out so that little bird can fly again. I want to take it slow, and show her that I can be the woman that she needs. I would tell her that I love her so much that I’m willing to take forever to build us back up again.” Her voice trailed off. “Um, that’s what I would tell her.”

Jake hit the button to turn off the speaker part of the phone and picked up the receiver. He looked into green eyes that were lit with tears, confusion, and love. “You just did, T. Here, I think the little bird wants to speak.”

Tara swallowed. “Gabrielle?”

The writer almost started to cry again. It had only been a few hours, and she missed that voice terribly. “Please, say it.”

Tara closed her eyes, as the ray of hope got a little bigger. “You okay, Red? I mean are you safe?” She said, thickly.

The writer sobbed. She couldn’t help it. “Um, yeah. Jake’s taking good care of me. I think I’m gonna stay here for a while.”

I miss her already. “If that’s what you need.”

“It is.” Is she going to be okay? I hope she takes care of herself while I’m gone.

“Um, okay.” I won’t sleep till she’s back.

“Uh, T?”

“Yeah, Red?”

“The little bird still loves you very much.”

Tara wanted to shout up at the ceiling. It was a beginning. “Where do we go from here?”

“Don’t know, but slow. Has to be slow. Kay?” Her voice was small.

Tara had the resist the urge to rush over and protect her even from the hurt she caused. “Okay.”
Story #14: Beginnings
A breathy moan filled the silent room, making it come to life. The figure on the bed arched and twisted her body to follow the path of imaginary lips. They fluttered against her skin—warm and moist. Tara whimpered as the knowledgeable mouth grazed the underside of her breasts, while phantom hands mapped a teasing pattern across every inch of skin that they could reach. The brunette’s fingers dug into the sheets under her, ripping them from the mattress as pleasure coursed through her body. Each limb felt heavy and slicked with sweat, while a different kind of wetness pooled elsewhere, leaving her hungry, needy.

Tara groaned as the hands traveled down to torture her thighs. Soft fingertips and blunt nails left a fiery trail as they moved from the outside in, closer to her own source of burning heat. The mechanic’s legs parted at the invasion, and her back arched as her lover’s mouth opened wide over a nipple, creating a hot, moist suction. Small, agile fingers inched closer, and Tara held her breath in anticipation, only to cry out in relief when those same fingers spread the lips of her sex like a parting flower. The tiny appendages were relentless, rubbing in a rhythm that was hot and heavy. Finally, the digits filled her to the hilt, pumping deep and strong. Fingers raked against sensitive walls creating delicious friction that left the dark haired woman’s body jerking and crying out for more.

Tara jerked awake with a gasp as pleasurable tingles buzzed through her body like electric current. She cried out in utter frustration. Expert hands snaked down between her legs to finish the job. After three strokes, she yelled her release to the ceiling, and as her body pulsed with aftershocks, the tears started. The loneliness set in. It was the most wicked of tortures.

Still trembling slightly, Tara sat up in bed. The covers fell away, revealing her naked form. She covered her face with her hands, letting the tears fall and her mind wander. I swore I could feel you baby. I could almost smell you. It seems like ages since I touched you, but it’s only been a couple of weeks. I’m hanging in there. I don’t have a choice. The mechanic wiped at the tears with the back of her hands before fiddling with the blankets in her lap. Pale blue eyes scanned the room, seeing the strawberry blonde everywhere from the color scheme of the bedroom to the little bric-a-brac scattered about the bedroom. Still, somehow it managed to look empty, and the writer’s absence left the mechanic the same way. Tara let out a shaky breath. “I should be the one living with Jake, but I guess she had to get away from all this. I can’t blame her.” Tara filled the room with the sound of her voice, and while each word held truth in feeling, they were tinged with a hollowness that even she was aware of.

Large hands riffled through midnight tresses mussing them up further. She peered out the window. The sky was overcast, and large, fat drops of rain pelted the glass. It all went along with the slight chill still present in the air, despite the coming Spring. I used to love the rain. One side of her mouth lifted in a warbly smile, then fell abruptly as childhood memories gave way to her present predicament. “I can’t stay here like this either. Maybe it’s time to visit the shop. It could be just what I need to get my hands dirty.” Something had to stifle the pain to bring back the burst of hope she had before this all started.

Tara turned to the phone on the bedside table as if waiting for it to ring. It seemed like it had at least a hundred times the past couple weeks with calls from Shannon, Wayne, and Jake—all asking if she was okay and ending with her begging them not to come over. The most important calls were the ones from the writer. They were sometimes filled with awkward silence; sometimes hesitant laughter; sometimes concern; and often times the mundane, consisting of a blow by blow of day to day activities. Either way, it was a start. The calls and the appointments with Dr. White had become a lifeline, serving as her only links with Gabrielle. It was a start indeed.

Now sitting on the side of the bed, Tara rubbed her naked thighs nervously. I’ll leave a message on the machine so that she’ll know where I am. Maybe today will be the day Red comes to see me. Her heart thumped in triple time and her palms began to sweat with the knowledge that she would not know what to say anyway. The word sorry loses its effectiveness after a couple hundred times. After the separation, the first session with Dr. White was overrun with that word along with the occasional angry screaming.

Every time Tara opened her mouth, it spilled out piercing the quiet between them that had become so thick that the heaviest of swords could not pierce it, but the writer’s sobs could– just as they did her heart. The other sessions progressed slowly one word at a time. Without a physical presence, the phone calls were easier but only marginally. It was like baking from scratch without having the slightest idea how to cook.

Tara let out a long sigh and reached for the answering machine, recording the new message in a monotonous voice. The anger that ruled the writer seemed to be gone, but the mechanic had to deal with her own fury at herself. “It’s got to get better, and maybe someday I’ll be able to forgive myself,” she whispered to herself as she pushed up from the bed, shuffling toward the bathroom. Halfway there, the phone rung. Tara sneered at the offensive object before turning back toward her prior destination. She wouldn’t call this early. The brunette told herself. She entered the bathroom just as the beep sounded. The next sound took her breath away.

”Hey,” the writer said hesitantly. “I guess I’ll try you at the shop.”

Tara broke into a dead run. Getting to the nightstand, she lunged for the phone and knocked it off its perch. She growled at her clumsiness and shouted down at the receiver that had come off the base. “Hold on, Gab!” The mechanic plopped down on the floor, ignoring the itch of the carpet against her naked skin. With shaking fingers, she reached for the phone, dropping it several times. “Dammit!”

On the other end, Gabrielle cringed, but for some reason the sound of the brunette swearing relaxed her. She’s as nervous as I am about all of this.

Tara took a deep breath and brought the phone to her ear. “Um, hey you still there?”

”Yeah, I’m here.” Gabrielle paused grasping for straws and words. “I didn’t catch you at a bad time did I? I know it’s early. . .”

Before she could stop them, words of sentiment eased past her lips. “But it’s you. I don’t mind because it’s you.” Pale blue eyes closed in irritation at her inability to control her heart.

Silence engulfed them. The writer swallowed hard. She says these things, and they used to mean so much. They still do, but it’s hard to believe. I don’t know what to say to them.

Tara let out a pained sigh. “Look. I’m sorry. This is hard to get used to. You know?”

Gabrielle scooted back into the bed that smelled distinctly like the mechanic. With one hand she pulled the covers to her as she leaned against the headboard for support. She closed her eyes and brought the blanket up to her nose, sniffing it and surrounding herself in a familiar scent and warmth. I miss you. “Yeah, I know.”

The quiet lapsed between them again, extending until there was only the sound of breathing. Gabrielle pushed a hand through red gold tresses. This is getting us no where. There’s got to be a starting point, a beginning. I’m hurt, but I don’t want this over. “Make sure you bundle up and cover your head. It’s raining out.” That is so not what I wanted to say.

Tara looked back up at the uncovered window. “I noticed, and I will.” Needing something to do with all the nervous energy, she picked her nails then began chewing on them. The need to talk to someone besides the furniture opened her up if only momentarily. “I was just thinking this morning how I used to. . . “ she muffled over the fingers in her mouth.

”I can’t understand you. Get your fingers out of your mouth,” the writer commented softly.

Tara dropped her hand guiltily. “Uh, how did you know?”

A smile spread slowly over the blonde’s features. It felt good. “I could hear you chomping. Now, what were you saying?”

A little flustered by the mirth in the writer’s voice, the mechanic had to search her brain for a starting point. I think these are the most words we’ve said to each other. “Uhm, when I was a, ah, teenager, I loved the rain. Used to stay out in it until my clothes got all soggy and I made that sloshing sound when I walked. It used to drive my mom crazy. She used to say that I was too old to be acting like that. After she left, I didn’t do it anymore. I guess I figured that it was time to grow up.”

Gabrielle sucked in a breath. “I-I didn’t know that.” I bet there’s a lot that I don’t know.

Tara shrugged naked shoulders. “I was just thinking about it this morning and Doc White said to share the little things that we might not know about each other.”

”Yes, she did say that.” Gabrielle searched her conscious but came up blank and the words stuck in her throat. Why can’t I do this? I have to open up to her. Still, she remained silent.

The brunette swallowed audibly. God, Red you can’t even trust me with a little bit of you. Can you? I don’t blame you. “Um, it’s okay. You don’t have to. . .”

The writer balled an angry fist into the burgundy comforter. “I hate this,” she interrupted.

The breath rattled in the back of Tara’s throat. “Uh, m-maybe I should let you go now.” She pinched the bridge of her nose in hopes of keeping tears at bay.

Gabrielle sat up ramrod straight in the bed. “No! I didn’t mean. I mean, I hate not being able to talk to you like we used to.” That’s funny. A derisive laugh spilled from her lips. “But, I guess we didn’t talk about the things we should have, huh?”

The tone of the blonde’s voice made Tara cringe. “Yeah, I think you’re right about that one.” Her voice was soft but full of sadness. She began picking her nails again.

A blanket of stillness covered them, giving them time to think, to feel, and to reflect. Is she as miserable as I am? I think knowing that she’s having trouble sleeping and getting through the day like I am it will lift some of this weight off my shoulders. “How are you, T?” Gabrielle asked softly, reverently.

The mechanic sucked in a breath. “You haven’t asked me that since. . .well you know.”

The writer dropped her eyes to study the pattern on the stitching on the comforter. She plucked at a loose string. “Yeah, well I was hoping you were as miserable as me but was afraid to ask.”

”Well, to be honest then I’m somewhere between miserable and FUBAR,” Tara added.

Gabrielle snorted despite the seriousness of the situation. “Now that’s the T that I know—the one that doesn’t pull any punches.”

The dark haired woman pulled her knees up to her chest and smirked. “Yeah, I’m still in here.” She paused and threw caution to the wind. “You know, it seems like forever since we’ve talked this much.”

Fair brows drew together in contemplation. “I know. I didn’t know what to say to you for a while there.”

Tara wrapped an arm around her bent knees. “Now you do?” Her tone was hopeful and her heart searched each word from the writer’s mouth for something solid to hold on to.

Gabrielle grasped for the right words. “Maybe everyday it’s getting easier. I think talking on the phone is helping a lot. It hurt so bad at first. . .” The writer’s words trailed off as pain lodged in her chest and throat. She felt tears prickle her eyes and glanced toward the ceiling in hopes of keeping them from falling. I didn’t think anything could hurt like that, and I never knew you’d be the one to do it. She whispered internally as the words refused to come. Gabrielle’s mouth opened and closed several times but nothing came out.

”Ah, Red. I’m. . .

”No! Don’t you dare say it!” The words came at last. Her voice shook with emotion. “I know you’re sorry, but we’ve got to. . .move past that somehow and figure out the why.”

Baby blue’s squeezed shut, and Tara’s hands clinched into fists. Her arms ached to be around the strawberry blonde, but at the same time, she felt the need for punishment for the pain that lingered between them. I screwed up that’s why. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

Somebody has to start this or we’ll never get to where we need to go. Gabrielle cleared her throat. “Um, why did you tell me? It’s not as if I would have ever found out.”

The mechanic took in a deep, painful breath and rubbed a hand over her face. I should have expected this question sooner or later. Now, how do I answer it? She let the breath go, and the words spilled from her. “I knew, and it a lot of ways that should have been enough. But, I think it was a combination of my own guilt and the fact that I could not do to you what all the women in my life have done to me—lie. I was becoming something I couldn’t live with, so how could I ask you to?” She paused. “I hope that made sense.”

Gabrielle was quiet for what seemed like an eternity. Her hands fidgeted with the edges of the comforter before tugging on the oversized t-shirt she was wearing. Dull pain swirled around her along with sadness. It’s what was left after the anger. I never thought that this would be us. Finally, she spoke. “I-I’m not going to lie to you. Part of me wishes that you kept this to yourself, but the other parts of me never want to see you hurt for any reason. To be totally honest, I’m not ready to ask why you did it. I’m too scared of what I might hear.”

A thick lump lodged in Tara’s throat, making it hard to swallow or speak. The heavy weight of guilt lay on her shoulders like it belonged there. “Um, I guess that I can understand that.” The weight became crushing and she longed to be cleansed of it. It was too much. “Uh, I’m gonna go so I can hop in the shower and get to the shop while it’s still early.” Her voice was flat, but the emotion deeply hidden was stifling. Tara stood up, bringing the phone with her.

“Oh, okay.” Gabrielle could not keep the surprise out of her voice. “Uhm, maybe I’ll call you at the shop later?” Even with the seriousness of the conversation, she did not want it to end. It had been a while since they had experienced such openness.

“Okay. Bye,” the mechanic whispered. She held the phone to her ear a second longer before lowering it to its base. Tara turned back toward the bathroom, needing the hard pelt of hot water to wash and sting away emotions that threatened to decimate her.

Gabrielle listened to the soft click then the dial tone. “Bye,” she husked.

****

The strawberry blonde buried herself under the covers and willed sleep to reclaim her. The sandman didn’t listen. The smell of the brunette wafted to her nose, reminding her body, her heart, and mind of what she was missing. She let out a muted curse and sat up in the bed, fixing the covers around her waist.

For a couple of days after she learned of Tara’s secret, Gabrielle slept little and woke up in anger, wanting to scream, rant and rave. Then, the pain came, threatening to tear her apart, and she felt it all rawly, deeply. ‘It was just a kiss,’ she tried to tell herself, but there is no such thing as a little betrayal. Now, she was knee deep in the loneliness and guilt. Gabrielle covered her face with her hands. If I ask myself one more time what I did or what I didn’t do to cause this one more time, I’ll scream. I love her with all that I am, but there’s something wrong between us. I want to find out what that is and fix it because I can’t be without her. Remembering the gaunt, haggard face of the mechanic during their last session, the writer whispered, “And I think she feels the same.”

She dropped her hands back into her lap. “I know she was hurt by me pushing her away, but I thought she understood why I did. How can that make her go to someone else?” Gabrielle asked the air.

Jake pushed the door open all the way and pushed away from the wall. “Did you know that virtually every woman in T’s life has hurt her?”

The writer let out a surprised squeak as the air talked back.

Jake held out a placating hand before adjusting his blue pajama bottoms and sitting down on the edge of the bed. “Sorry.” He smiled at her and scratched the top of his head, musing his short dark hair further.

Gabrielle smiled back, “S’okay. Um, what you said? I knew about Caitlin, but—”

“You’re the first real relationship she’s had since the whole Caitlin thing. There were women, but they were few and far between. I’m not going to lie to you. I thought you were just one of them, but somehow you got through.”

“Whoa, I didn’t know that.” Gabrielle worried her bottom lip in contemplation. “I’m not trying to be mean, but what does this have to do—”

Jake gave her an incredulous look. “C’mon Gab. Don’t be obtuse. It probably has a lot to do with it. I’m no psych doc, but think about it. The way she’s been hurt, and then she feels like you reject her. It may make sense in her mind to go where she’s wanted even if it’s for a hot minute. I’m not taking sides, but I can see it from both perspectives here.” He peered at the strawberry blonde thoughtfully.

Gabrielle could feel the anger at being interrupted fall back to where it belonged. She turned surprised eyes to Jake. He made sense. It’s something to think about. “Oh, I-I didn’t think. . .oh.” She paused and swallowed. “I sorta figured that this was my fault. I didn’t mean to shut her out. I just didn’t know what else to do.” A frantic expression passed across her features.

Jake grabbed a fidgeting hand from the strawberry’s blonde lap. “I’m not authority on relationships, but I know it takes two.”

The writer nodded but her look was solemn. “That’s easy to say, but I can’t help but to think that if I was more comfortable in my skin none of this would have happened.”

“Yeah, but that doesn’t make it your fault, Red. Besides don’t you think guilt is just about eating T alive right now too?”

“I figured that. I wanted to stay mad, Jake, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I just want us back.” Her voice cracked on the last word, and Gabrielle turned away, tired of people seeing her breakdown.

Jake squeezed the hand in his. “I know kiddo, but you need to get yourself together first. You haven’t been out of this house in weeks other than to go to the doctor and pick up your clothes. Go out, and start getting comfortable in that skin of yours.” Dark brows wriggled, and Gabrielle found herself chuckling as she wiped at her eyes.

“You know you really looked like her when you did that.”

Jake sniggered. “I know family curse, magic eyebrows.”

“Listen, you’re right. I do need to get out—”

“Great!” He clapped his hands in enthusiasm. “I’ve got some stuff to do around the house, but how bout I take you out for a late breakfast or an early lunch, which ever you prefer. Don’t think I haven’t noticed that you’re not eating.” He reached forward and wiped at the dark smudge under her eyes. “Or sleeping well.”

Ignoring his more than astute observations, Gabrielle reached out and tugged hard on his ear. “Will you let me get a full sentence out!” She said in mock anger.

“Ow!” Jake smacked at her hand. “Sorry! Go on.”

Satisfied, Gabrielle dropped her hold. “Thank you and yes.” She went silent and watched in amusement as pale blue eyes narrowed in irritation.

“That’s all!” Jake threw his hands up in exasperation.

“Well yeah! Were you expecting a soliloquy?”

Jake growled as he got up from the bed. “Damned lesbians!! I’ll see you later.”

“Right back at ya queenie!” She yelled at his retreating back. “Thank you very much, Jake for the kick in the pants,” Gabrielle murmured to the empty room.

Jake headed back toward his own bedroom. “I guess it is a good thing that I check up on her from time to time.” Upon entering his bedroom, he headed for the bathroom. Shaking his head, he turned on the water for a shower and removed his pajamas. “You’ve been taking care of me all these years, sis, and I’m going back to school this summer thanks to you. Well, it’s time I take care of you a little bit.” Jake’s words tapered off as he entered the shower, reaching for the body wash and sponge. The warm water plastered his hair to his head. He moved it away with a flick of a hand. His mind wandered back to his sister as the water beat against his skin. I’d kill for what you have. You two belong together, and I’m gonna make sure you stay that way.

****

The noon hour had only diminished the rain to a sprinkle, but it still hung in the air just as the clouds did. Tara threw the bike part, wrapped in the rag, on top of her desk. She unwrapped it and wiped dirty hands on still too clean coveralls then commenced looking for the serial number to add to the long list of inventory. The mechanic let out a breath strong enough to disturb her bangs. Why am I doing this when I know everything is on that computer? “Maybe I need to reopen the shop completely it. It could help me get through the days easier,” Tara commented aloud. But who’s going to make the nights easier? Some voice in her head whispered. The brunette snorted and wiped a hand over her face, smudging it with the grease that still clung to her skin. Tara banged the desk hard with her fist. “How could I be so fucking stupid?! Just because she pushed me away, I should have known that she still needed me. I should have known!”

A loud thump against the glass door made her jump. Tara looked up to see the goofiest sight ever. Shannon and Wayne, with their face and mouths mushed against the glass, peered at her. The glass became cloudy with their steady breaths and slimy as Shannon began licking it. Tara couldn’t help herself. She threw back her head and laughed. The two young men gave her a warped smile in return before they let themselves in.

Tara gave them both a crooked smirk as they walked in wiping their mouths. “You know, I really should learn to lock that door. The weirdest people come in here. Why aren’t you two at work?”

“Oh har har. It’s Saturday.” Shannon replied as he removed his jacket. He held up his hands as the mechanic opened her mouth to speak again. “Before you say anything else, don’t get mad. You said we couldn’t come to the house. You didn’t say anything about the shop.” His expression changed from genial to somber as he gave her the once over. “I can understand why to. You look like shit. . .oof.”

Wayne elbowed his lover in the side. “Shannon!” He peered at the tall woman seeing the fire rise in her eyes. “Allow me to say it with a little more tact. You’re not looking too good, T. Have you been eating? You’ve lost some weight.” His usual jovial features were drawn in concern.

Crossing her arms over her chest, Tara answered in an angry grunt and a shrug of her shoulders. She could feel the anger filter through her. It was the only thing that held the guilt and loneliness at bay. I just want to be left alone. This is between me and Red, her inner voice screamed. She pounded her fist against the desk once more. “That’s not any of your business now is it? I was trying to be nice when you guys called. You’re Red’s friends not mine.” Her tone was tight and dripping with acid and she peered at them through narrowed eyes, hoping it would scare them away.

No such luck. The two men stepped closer. Even though Shannon was smaller, he was the first one to comment on the brunette’s tirade. “You know that’s where you’re wrong. When you got with Gab, you got us too. We’ve known her for a long, long time, and damn it, if she’s gonna love, you then we are too!” His chest heaved, and his face was taut with anger and worry.

Wayne wrapped an arm around his smaller lover and rubbed the top of his own head where blonde hair used to be. “He’s right, so get used to it. You’re a part of our little family.”

Tara felt the anger deflate with impressive quickness. It left her stunned and her mouth open. She sat down heavily on the edge of the desk. “I-I don’t know what to say.” She looked down at her fidgeting hands then back up at the men.

“Nothing if you don’t want to, just accept it,” Shannon added.

Tara wanted to fight it. There had never been anybody but Jake until the saucy strawberry blonde appeared. Now, there were more people to hurt, but it was bigger than that, she had so much more. It felt good, and for once, she let it. Her eyes softened as she gazed at them, and she pushed a shaking hand through her hair. “Um, thanks guys.” The mechanic’s voice trembled. “Sorry about what I said earlier. I’m just really wound up right now.”

The couple smiled in understanding and closed the distance between them. Shannon grabbed his lover’s coat and threw it on the counter before they joined Tara by the desk. The shorter man reached out a hesitant hand to rub the brunette’s back. Shannon expected her to jump away but sighed in relief when he felt tense muscles relax somewhat. “So, you’re not doing so good, huh? I figure Gab is not doing any better. She won’t let us see her either.”

Tara crossed her arms over her chest again and snorted. “Yeah, I can sympathize, and I guess you could call wallowing in self pity and guilt not doing so good. I miss her something awful, guys, but I can’t even get her to see me outside the doctor’s office. I can’t blame her though. I blame myself. I screwed up big time. I mean, how could I do that to her?” She split her gaze between both of them

Wayne wrapped a long arm around her shoulders. The sleeve of the green cashmere sweater he was wearing felt warm and soft against the back of her neck. “You’re human that’s how, and it was just a kiss, T. You came to your senses and ended up where you belonged.”

Tara shrugged and sighed, “Yeah, but it’s not that simple. It’s not the kiss so much but what was behind it. I abandoned her when she needed me even though I didn’t think she did. I don’t know how to begin to fix this. All we do is talk on the phone, but I have to admit we talked more today than we had in the last few weeks. It felt good.”

Shannon peered at his friend’s profile, seeing the dark smudges and gaunt features. “Well, you need to keep talking, and you have to get past all this. It’s the past, and you have to let it go to fix what’s wrong in the present.” A slow smirk stole over his features. “Hey, that sounded real good didn’t it?”

Tara raised an eyebrow and rolled her eyes. “Yeah, it did, and it makes sense too. So, I need to deal with me before I can deal with us?”

Shannon leaned forward, catching his lover’s eye. “Is that what I said?”

It was Wayne’s turn to roll his eyes. “Yeah, pretty much.”

Shannon nodded and smiled. “Then, yeah do that, and be patient with her and yourself.”

Tara looked at the shorter man thoughtfully. “I’m hoping that opening the shop back up will help with that. I’ll have something to keep me busy.”

“Good idea.” Wayne smiled, showing his dimples and making blue eyes twinkle. “In the meantime, how about letting us treat you to a cheap lunch at Denny’s? You can drown some of those sorrows in some chili cheese fries.” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Tara looked from one man to the other, taking in their jeans and sweaters. Then, she looked down at her own attire: a dirty t-shirt and coveralls. “Sounds good, but let me clean up a little first.”

After the mechanic left the room, the two men turned to each other. “Phew, she had me going there for a minute,” Shannon commented.

Wayne reached out to push a lock of dark hair behind his lover’s ear. “Me too, but she shouldn’t go through this alone. It’ll only make it worse. I’m glad she let us in.”

****

Tara looked at herself in the mirror. Pale blue eyes stared back at her, shining with loss and loneliness. She sighed and looked away before turning on the faucet. “Everyone seems to be pulling for us. I have to keep believing that this will all turn out all right. She’s the one. I know she is.”

****

They entered the moderately crowded Denny’s. Shannon spotted a booth near the back, and both Wayne and Tara followed. The mechanic slid in on one side, and her two male friends scooched in to the left of her.

Shannon tapped the brunette on the shoulder. “Remember we said cheap lunch, so don’t you go ordering the t-bone steak.” He smiled rakishly.

Blue eyes narrowed. “Keep it up smart ass, and I’ll order two of everything.” She ended the sentence with a smirk and chuckle. Her head lowered, and long black tresses obscured her face as seriousness took over. “Um, thanks guys for making me laugh. I haven’t done that in a while. It means a lot.” With the slight toss of her head, sable strands teemed back over her shoulders. Tara looked from one man to the other. Gratefulness and nervousness shined in her eyes. “I’m not heavy on the words, but I usually mean what I say.”

The couple beamed at her. Wayne glanced at this partner. “Well, maybe we should get her the t-bone?”

Shannon nodded in the affirmative. “Yeah, with all the kissing up she’s doing.”

Tara rolled her eyes for the hundredth time and elbowed the brunette in reply. With wide smiles firmly planted, they all looked up in greeting to the waitress. The young woman took a step back in suspicion, especially when she heard the low growl. Shannon bumped the mechanic with a shoulder. “Stop that. You’re scaring her.” He turned back to the waitress and smiled innocently as she stepped forward to give them menus.

“Uh, can I get you all something to drink?” The young waitress asked nervously.

Three pair of eyes peered at her again. The growl came from a different direction this time. Shannon popped his lover on the back of the head.

“Ow!”

“I can’t take you two out anywhere!” Shannon gave the other occupants of the booth a stare down before returning his gaze to the waitress. He leaned forward, trying to catch a glimpse of her nametag. “I’m sorry, Dottie. We’ll all have cokes.”

Scribbling on her notepad, Dottie turned to go but not before eyeing them warily.

They all glared at each other before dissolving into chuckles. I needed this. Tara whispered to herself. “We need to make sure and leave her a nice tip for putting up with us. You know, I almost forgot how much fun you two are.”

Wayne eased out of his coat, and the other two followed suit. “Well, we’re gonna remind you today.”

****

Jake entered Denny’s behind, Gabrielle. He spotted a small booth and immediately steered them toward it by placing a hand at the small of the strawberry blonde’s back. He made sure that the writer was situated first before sliding in on the other side.

Gabrielle smiled at the man who’s gentleness and temperament reminder her so much of her lover. “Jake, I think you were right big time. I needed this. It feels good to get out.”

He grinned back. “Yeah, I figured that it would. Now, I need to get you to eat.” He gave her a meaningful stare.

The writer’s head hung. “I know. I just haven’t felt like doing much of anything lately, except take long hot baths. But, I think I brought my appetite with me today.”

“That’s good.” Jake removed his coat and adjusted the beige crew neck sweater. “You’re looking better too. Out of your pj’s and all.”

Gabrielle looked down at the gray sweatshirt and faded jeans. “Well, I think you helped with that, and so did your sister. I called her this morning.”

Jake ignored the waitress as she handed them menus. “And?”

The petite woman glanced up at the waitress. “OJ for me, and a coke for him, please.” She nodded and walked away. “And, it was almost easy to talk to her. Pain got in the way a little bit, but we got past it for the most part. Things are still shaky, but I learned some important things.” Gabrielle smiled and opened the menu. She glanced back up to see Jake staring at her curiously. “I didn’t know she liked to play in the rain.”

Recognition lit his dark features, and he chuckled. “Oh, yeah! I was young, but I remember she used to come in soaking wet even in a thunderstorm, while I would be somewhere cowering in a corner.”

The strawberry blonde let out a loud bark of laughter. “I can almost picture it!” She laughed again.

****

Tara’s head jerked upward at the familiar sound. “Guys! Shhh!” Oh, baby am I going crazy? I could have sworn that I heard you. The mechanic stood up to look around until she got to the front of the restaurant. Blue eyes so much like her own caught her. Jake waved.

Gabrielle glared at him quizzically. “Who are you waving at?”

Jake shrugged and smiled. “Turn around and look for yourself.”

She did, and her breath stopped.

Tara presence towered over her, making her appear larger than life even from so far away. The writer’s stomach knotted and her heartbeat tripled as if she were seeing the brunette for the first time. Even from across the room, Gabrielle could feel the intensity in pale blue. Oh God! Look at her. I miss her so much.

Shannon grabbed the mechanic’s hand. “What’s so interesting over there?” He stood up too, following the woman’s gaze. A slow smile formed. “Oh, that’s what.”

Wayne looked at his lover for clarification. “Gab’s here.”

“Ohh,” the blonde man replied.

Tara did not hear a word. Her mind and body were in tune to the petite woman a few feet away. She didn’t move. She didn’t blink. She just whispered, “Beautiful,” and continued to stare. The sight of the writer was all she needed to restore hope. Even though, they had seen each other a few days before in the doctor’s office, this was different. There was no pressure and no strings, just the whole gang together like old times. I’m here, baby. I’m right here, and I’m not going anywhere. I will get though this, and so will we.

Jake reached out to touch the writer’s arm. “Gab?”

Gabrielle jumped in surprise and slowly dragged her gaze away. “Uhm, huh?” She brought her hands up to her flushed face, trapping the heat in her cheeks.

Jake smiled softly. “Do you want to go over there and maybe sit with them?”

Green eyes widened in part surprise and part fear. “I-I don’t know. We haven’t—”

Jake squeezed the flesh under his hand. “Listen, you don’t have to say or do anything that you don’t want to, even to her. But, you do have friends over there who are worried about you—”

Maybe it’s time to try. Nothing can be solved if I just sit still. The petite woman’s expression was solemn. “Yeah, let’s go over there,” she interrupted.

Grabbing their coats, Jake did not wait for her to have second thoughts. He rose and motioned to the waitress, telling her they were moving to another table. With the same hand at the strawberry blonde’s back, he guided her toward the back of the restaurant.

Azure eyes widened to the size of saucers as she saw the two figures moving toward them. Frantic now, she looked down at Shannon. “She’s coming over here! What do I do?!”

Shannon squeezed her hand. “Calm down. You wanted to see her. Just be patient with her, but don’t expect the whole barrel right now.”

Tara nodded even as the words went over her head. With wild eyes, she turned to Wayne, who nodded his head in confirmation. The mechanic slowly slid back down into her seat. “Okay, okay. I can do this.” I can. I really can. She wiped sweaty palms against her jeans and willed her heart to slow.

Jake and Gabrielle inched closer to the table. The writer tried to clamp down on her nervousness, but it pushed forward hard, making her fidget.

Feeling the muscles in the blonde’s back tense up, Jake leaned forward and whispered. “It’s okay. Just calm down. You know everybody here.”

Then, just like that the comfort he offered was gone as she watched him slide into the booth beside Wayne, leaving her the side by Tara. Jake greeted the other men warmly, and he stood up slightly to reach over and ruffle his sister’s hair. She paid him no mind. Shannon and Wayne met the same front with Gabrielle. She peered at them blankly before returning her gaze to the tall brunette. Knowing the women needed a modicum of privacy, the three men conversed among themselves.

Wide eyed and more nervous than ever, they gazed at each other shyly. Gabrielle swallowed and opened her mouth to speak. A screech came out, and her mouth closed with an audible snap. C’mon, Red. We’ve got to start somewhere.

Tara lowered her eyes. C’mon. C’mon, T. Don’t run from this. Gathering resolve, she stood up and broke the silence between them. “Uhm, hi. You, uh, don’t have to sit here. I can make one of them move.” She gave the three men a menacing stare, which they ignored.

It’s now or never. “Uh, no, it’s okay. I can sit here.”

Tara stood until the writer was seated. She scooted over as much as she could, giving the strawberry blonde a wide berth. They glanced at each other from the corner of their eyes. Again, Tara was the first to speak, “I didn’t plan this or anything.”

Shocked green met blue. “I didn’t think you did. I know you wouldn’t do something like that.”

As if on some weird cue, they turned toward the three men sitting near them. “What?” They said almost simultaneously.

Tara squinted in suspicion. “Did you three have something to do with this?” The mechanic pointed at the writer then herself.

“No!” Again, it was almost simultaneous.

Through emerald eyes, Gabrielle peered at her two long time friends. “Really?”

“Really,” Shannon answered for the both of them. “Now that I have your attention, Gab, it’s good to see you, but you look about as ragged as this one here.” He pointed to Tara.

Wayne shouldered his lover. “Sorry, Gab. He doesn’t seem to have any tact today.”

Thank God for coincidences. “It’s okay. Maybe I needed to see you guys. All of you.” Her gaze landed on the mechanic.

Tara could feel the heat in her cheeks, she lowered her head and long tresses hid the evidence. Gabrielle itched to push sable strands away. She missed the softness of it.

Dottie’s return interrupted them all. She eyed the larger group warily. “Um, are you ready to order?”

Tara raised her hand sheepishly. “Yeah, I am. I’ll have the turkey club, and instead of the regular fries, I want an order of chili cheese fries.”

Dottie nodded.

The writer was the next to speak up. “Um, I’ll have the chicken sandwich and chili cheese fries on the side, please.” She glanced up at the feel of eyes on her. Tara snatched her gaze away.

“Uh, we could share the fries?” She asked hopefully. “I could just get an extra helping on the plate.” God, I don’t ever remember feeling this awkward as a teenager. I guess because this means. . .everything. The brunette moved her sweaty hands under the table, wiping them on her jeans once more.

Dottie waited patiently.

Gabrielle fingered the silverware nervously. I used to do anything to be close to her, and I don’t think that’s changed. I just think my memory got refreshed. She glanced at the space between them and longed to close it. “I, uh, that’s fine.”

Tara glanced back up at the waitress. “We can do that, right?”

“Yeah, but it will cost extra,” Dottie replied.

The mechanic jerked her thumb in Wayne’s direction. “It’s okay. He’s paying.”

Dottie took the rest of the orders and left them alone.

Tara scanned the table, seeing the three men in their own conversation, she glanced at the writer and searched for a neutral subject. “Just like old times, huh?”

Their gazes met and lingered. Gabrielle could feel herself getting lost until she remembered that she was just spoken to. “Oh yeah, it is, but we need Lil here too.”

Tara nodded, “Yeah, you’re right. How are they by the way?”

“They’re doing good. Jamie misses you. They were having some trouble with mom, but she’s coming around. You should call them.”

Tara smiled. “Yeah, I should. I miss them too.”

Quiet lapsed between them, but the shy looks continued. Gabrielle felt compelled to end it well. She gave me a little on the phone today, and I think it’s time for me to do the same. Some of the hesitancy that existed during the phone call dissipated with the easiness of the surroundings. “Remember when we went home to my parents, and I told you that I was sort of a preppie nerd?”

Tara head reeled at the sudden change of subject. It was vintage Gabrielle. She looked at the writer quizzically as she tried to regain her bearings. “Uh, yeah. I remember. Why?”

Gabrielle bit her bottom lip and smiled sheepishly. “I was sort of a klutz too.”

Still confused, the mechanic waited for more.

The writer read the expression on the brunette’s face and started to finger the silverware again. “Uhm, I was just trying to share something about . . myself.”

Understanding dawned. “Ohhh, go on. I’m listening.” I’m such an idiot sometimes.

“Well, I, uhm, was awful in chemistry class, knocking over beakers and test tubes. I almost set the teacher’s lab coat on fire once. I accidentally bumped into her and she got way to close to the Bunsen Burner.”

Tara chuckled heartily.

Entranced by the sound, Gabrielle watched. “I haven’t heard that in a long time.”

Tara smiled, “I haven’t felt like doing it in a long time.” Her gaze was thoughtful. The urge to touch a cheek and tweak the writer’s nose was strong. Old habits die hard. Tara threw her arm over the back of the booth and clenched her fist, ordering her hands to be still. “Tell me more.” Blue eyes twinkled with merriment and interest. I want to know everything.

“My friends used to call me danger prone Daphne. You know, like from the Scooby-Doo cartoon? It used to sting, but I got used to it somehow. I grew out of it. I think it was just a geeky teenage thing, but I know everyone was holding their breath on Graduation day waiting for me to trip across the stage.”

Tara threw back her had and laughed. Gabrielle found herself joining in. She glanced toward her friends to see three pairs of eyes staring back at her. The writer ducked her head in embarrassment. Seeing the petite woman’s sudden change in demeanor, Tara looked toward the three men to see them peering back with amusement shining in their eyes. She gave them an icy glare that made them turn away quickly.

The brunette leaned toward the writer. “Ignore the peanut gallery over there.”

Gabrielle released a chuckle and met the mechanic’s gaze. “They are like nosey old women aren’t they?” She murmured.

Tara snorted. “The nosiest.”

They all looked up as Dottie returned. She sat the plates down with a quiet thump and refilled glasses.

Blue and green eyes converged on the steaming plate piled high with fries, chili and cheese. Gabrielle picked up the fork that she had been playing with for some time.

“I think we’d better tackle this first. You think?” Tara asked.

“Yeah.” The writer eyed the distance between them, knowing by the brunette’s side was where she wanted to be. She scooted over. Her body hummed in delight at the familiar heat engulfing her. We have to fix this, so I can get back to where I belong. Gabrielle glanced upward to see sky blue eyes studying her. The blush rose quickly, reddening her neck and cheeks. “I, um, didn’t want to make a mess.” To keep from saying more, she stuffed her mouth with food.

Tara smiled indulgently. It feels so good to have her close, even for a little while. “It’s okay. Eat up.”

Spurts of idle chit chat erupted as they ate followed by bouts of companionable silence. Tara could not tear her eyes away from the writer but tied valiantly to be discreet. A kick under the table made her turn to Shannon. He looked at her knowingly. The mechanic blushed and turned away only to have her gaze rest back where it belonged. Her mind flashed to the many times they had been here after a night at the club or just to meet the gang. It seemed like so long ago then it seemed like yesterday. So many things had changed yet there were some that stayed the same—the friendship and the feelings. It was something to hang onto. Coming out of her reverie, Tara chuckled at the sight before her. A large dollop of chili sauce lingered at the corner of the writer’s mouth.

Gabrielle looked up. She felt the warm gaze on her. It felt familiar, loving, and she welcomed every minute of it. It was this woman who showed her what love could be; what love is; and it was with this woman that she wanted to see what love grew into. The writer met the mechanic’s gaze, hiding none of the intensity of her feelings or of her pain. I want her to know. . .everything.

Tara smiled as if she understood every unspoken word. She picked up a napkin and wiped the sauce away. “I miss this,” she uttered quietly.

Gabrielle reached for the hand that had settled on top of the table, covering it with her own. “I miss you.”

Tara sucked in a shaky breath. “We have a ways to go don’t we?” She grasped the appendage wrapped around hers, squeezing it. It felt good to be able to touch her again, and she vowed to cherish each caress from now on.

The writer nodded. “Could be, but I’m willing to go the length.”

They were startled when the three men stood up. Two pairs of eyes stared back at them. Shannon fidgeted nervously. “Uhm, we’re gonna go to the men’s room and give you two a few minutes of privacy.” They filed out of the booth one by one, aware of eyes following them the whole time.

Tara turned back to the strawberry blonde. “Um, did you mean it?” Her heart quivered hopefully. “‘Cause I am too.”

Gabrielle smiled sweetly, softly. “Then, I guess we’re in this together.”

Tara went with her earlier urge that came back stronger. She reached out to tweak the writer’s nose.

****

Jake leaned against the sink and cackled deviously. “We work well together guys.”

Wayne chuckled as he dried his hands. “That we do.”

“Yeah, but we got a ways to go,” Shannon added. “Still, we did good today.” They nodded in agreement and padded out of the bathroom. With Wayne and Shannon I front, Jake ignored the sound of an opening door to catch up with his friends. Suddenly, he was jerked to the side by strong arms that engulfed him in a hug. He fought until he recognized his sister and returned the embrace. “God! You scared the shit out of me!” He was rewarded with a deep chuckle.

“Sorry, Jakie, and thanks. I love you so much. I hope you know that.” Her voice cracked as she pulled away. Blue met blue.

Jake smiled. “Yeah, I know that, and you’re welcome. You deserve a break after all the shi—”

“I know. Thanks anyway, ” she interrupted. She gave him one last squeeze and released him.

Shannon and Wayne squirmed under the steady green gaze. Finally, Gabrielle decided to let them off the hook. “You guys are the best friends a girl could have. I just wanted you to know that.”

They grinned and mumbled a thanks. Shannon scooted over and wrapped an arm around the writer. “We just want things to work out.”

“I know. I do too,” Gabrielle muttered.

They pulled on coats as Wayne took care of the bill. Tara hovered over the strawberry blonde, helping her slip an arm into her sleeve.. They turned to face each other. “Um, this was nice. Maybe we could do it again just to get away and talk?” The mechanic asked. Please say yes, but I don’t want to push.

The writer flushed a beautiful red. This is what we missed at the beginning. “I’d like that. I think we need that. I’ll call you.”

Tara flashed a white smile. “I know.”

From a respectable distance, Jake cleared his throat. The two women turned toward him. “Uhm, T. I’m sure I’ll hear from you.” He gave his sister a dazzling smile. “Red, you ready to go?”

Gabrielle nodded then turned her attention back to the brunette. Their gazes lingered, transmitting hope and a myriad of other emotions. “I’ll see you, T.”

“Okay,” the mechanic murmured softly. She watched them until they disappeared out the door.

Having missed the whole thing, Wayne walked up beside her looking from his lover to his friend. “You two ready? T, you going back to the shop?”

The mechanic nodded, and without warning, wrapped an arm around their necks. She squeezed as they walked, enjoying the choking sounds. “You know you guys are something else.”

Shannon wheezed.

“I think I’ll keep ya.”

****

The sound of the rain, the murmur of the TV, and the happenings of the day eased Tara into sleep. She laid spread out on the couch oblivious to the late hour. The shrill ring of the phone made her jerk awake almost immediately. She jumped up and reached past the lamp on the nearby table for the cordless. “Hello?” Tara uttered groggily.

“I woke you up,” Gabrielle stated quietly.

“No, it’s okay. What’s up?” The mechanics senses screamed awake at the sound of the writer’s voice.

Gabrielle chuckled. “It’s raining.”

Tara smirked. “Noticed that did you?”

“Mmm hmm, go back to sleep.” The strawberry blonde’s words were filled with mirth.

Totally confused, Tara sputtered, “Huh? I don’t—” The writer snickered again. The brunette pressed the phone to her ear and frowned, swearing silently that she heard a car in the background.

“It’s okay, T. I’ll catch up with you later.”

“Uhm, okay,” Tara added but she was greeted with dial tone. “Okayyyy, that was just weird. Maybe I should call her back.” Tara punched in her brother’s number. It rang six times before the answering machine picked up. “I don’t get it.”

The knock at the door almost sent the mechanic a mile into the air. “What the hell?” With purposeful strides, she headed toward the sound. Yanking the door open in irritation, she was totally unprepared for the sight in front of her. A smiling but very wet Gabrielle. The sweater and jeans were molded to her form.

The writer tried to hide the shiver. With the back of her hand, she wiped at her face, then used the same appendage to wave sheepishly. “Uh, hi. It’s raining.” She spread her arms wide, soaking up more of the elements.

Tara smirked at the look on the blonde’s face. “Yeah, Daphne it is.”

Gabrielle’s smile seemed to get bigger. She reached out a hand. “Come out and play?”

Tara looked down at her sleep rumpled clothes that she had yet to change out of, but without any hint of hesitation, she took the hand offered to her. It was a life line, a tenuous connection reestablished. Heedless of the cold, the mechanic allowed herself to be pulled out into the pounding rain.
Story #15: The Sweetest Thing
Caitlin’s eyes opened as if they were commanded to do so. Dim light filtered through the heavy curtains, but it was not the cause of her abrupt entrance into the waking world. It was quiet. Quiet was the culprit. After being rattled awake by ringing phones, pounding doors and desperate peons for the past three weeks, quiet was an unknown.

She sucked in a deep breath of air savoring the welcome smells of home… Lil’s soft perfume, Fabreeze, and the left over smell of baby in the bed. It had been exactly 3:17 a.m. when she stumbled in. Tiredness had seeped into her bones as if it were an integral part of her physical make up. The exec had almost fallen asleep in a much needed shower. “Wake me when you get home no matter what time it is.” Caitlin groaned inwardly. Sparky is going to be pissed. A smirk lifted one side of her mouth. But I know how to handle her. Good thing it’s the weekend.

The heart shaped locket around her neck shifted as she slowly sat up in bed. The blonde’s hand closed around it. It had been a saving grace along with the brunette’s voice over an impersonal telephone line. Whatever anger or exasperation she felt at co-workers and clients instantly melted away when she heard Lil’s voice and Jamie’s attempt at speech. She was not even able to bring herself to watch the tape they had made not too long ago, knowing that it would only make her more lonely.

After the shower, Caitlin checked on the infant, standing over her crib and grinning happily at the soft snores that filed the room. When the blonde finally sank into her own bed, she knew that she was where she belonged. The warmth, the smells and the feel of a beautiful naked Lillian lay claim to somewhere deep inside, a place that had been empty and aching for three long weeks. It was now full again. This job isn’t what makes me happy. Not anymore. I should be feeling some kind of high for landing such a huge client.

Caitlin gazed at her lover with adoring eyes. Curly hair stuck up wildly in every direction. Blue eyes that were always animated with emotion were closed and peaceful. Full pink lips were parted and moist. Caitlin frowned. Her partner’s beauty was not the only thing that caught her attention. Dark circles bruise like in their consistency lingered under the brunette’s eyes. No wonder she didn’t wake up when I got in bed. She was probably finally able to sleep knowing that I was coming home. After all, you’d only been home for a month before leaving again, you big ass. “I’m sorry Sparky. I’ll make it up to you somehow.” With a soft touch, she traced a thumb over her lover’s eye lids. Lil fidgeted and murmured but remained sleeping. Caitlin’s heart ceased then thudded vehemently. A goofy grin took over her face. The murmur had been her name. I should have awakened her. I’ll just take care of that right now.

The blonde pulled the covers away from the brunette’s body. Caitlin smiled at the sudden irritated crease that appeared on Lil’s forehead. She even went as far as squealing in protest. Caitlin trailed her nails down the indentation of her lover’s back. Knowing who it belonged to even in sleep, Lil’s body reacted, arching slightly into the touch. The exec marveled at the reaction and the skin that was just as soft as it had always been. She shifted slightly, moving closer to the brunette until flesh mingled. Caitlin watched the confusion play over her lover’s face as she pushed curly, dark hair behind an ear. They were barely an inch apart. Caitlin moaned at the familiar feel of breasts and skin billowing around her. Lips that she had not kissed in three weeks mumbled her name again. The exec did not hesitate, and as the last syllable was released, she covered the brunette’s mouth with her own. Her eyes were wide waiting to see dark blue glittering back at her. The blonde got her wish.

Lil awakened in confusion and arousal. In reflex, she jerked back and sat up in the bed. Her eyes were wide in surprise and brimming with happiness. “Caitl- baby when did you…”

“Shhh.”

“But–”

“Shhhh,” Caitlin put a slim finger to her lips.

“Don’t shush me!”

“Dammit woman. If you ever did what I told you, it would be a miracle.” Caitlin smiled knowingly.

“Don’t hold your breath,” Lil quipped right back at her. She bit her lip to keep from grinning.

“I missed you.” The blonde’s smile softened. “That includes that take no shit attitude.”

Lil’s eyes narrowed then sparkled. “I’m going to take that as a compliment.”

“You would.” Caitlin’s eyes dropped to her lover’s naked chest. Unable to resist, her fingers followed her gaze to the tempting curve of the brunette’s breast. Goosebumps followed her touch.

Lil gasped wallowing in the electric shiver that shot up and down her spine to the tips of her breasts. Her stomach knotted and the sudden ache between her legs was almost unbearable. She grasped the blonde’s hand, bringing it to her body and urging a firmer touch. “Don’t tease.”

“Shhh.” Caitlin paused long enough to wrap her free hand in curly tresses, yanking them playfully before pulling Lil closer. “That’s enough foreplay. I know you’re already wet.”

Lil did not say a word. She was in total agreement.

Their mouths crushed together in a kiss that carnal, wet, and desperate with need. Wanting her impossibly closer, Lil whimpered and clawed at the blonde’s skin The brunette was on fire and close to screaming at the savagery of it. She ripped away from the kiss only to sink her teeth into the blonde’s shoulder.

Caitlin cried out in a rush of pleasure. Even the air against suddenly sweat soaked skin made her tingle in arousal. The level of need coursing through Caitlin’s body shook her. “Lil,” Her voice was a hoarse croak. “I-” She had no idea what she was going to say.

Lillian pulled her down back into the plush bedding. At that moment, the weight of the blonde on top of her was the most erotic thing in creation. Mindlessly she rubbed herself against her lover. Long legs opened and instinctually wrapped themselves around Caitlin. “Shut up,” Lil husked. “Just shut up and fuck me.”

“God,” Caitlin gasped. Their mouths met again in a tangle of tongue. The exec swallowed the brunette’s triumphant moan as she plunged deep inside her. Caitlin groaned loudly. It was as if her whole body was bathed in warm wetness. Gentleness was not an option. She thrust hard, fast, and with a violence born of need and separation. Nails dug into her sweaty back, and her own sex contracted in pleasured empathy. The intensity of their love making wrapped around her and seeped into every pore. Caitlin was helpless to it, knowing that she was to be a willing victim.

For Lillian, the pleasure was so thick that it took her breath away, leaving her with only the ability to moan. One second, she was gloriously filled and the next an incredible friction made her entire body quake. The room was alive with breathy whimpers and the wet slap of flesh. Lillian loved that sound. She was the originator and the woman above her was the direct cause. The brunette sobbed as lightning rushed over her skin before concentrating itself between her legs. Somehow, as if the blonde knew, her thrusts became shorter and faster. Lil was mindless as wave after wave of orgasm bombarded her. She cried out incoherently.

Caitlin shivered as warmth cascaded through her. Her body contracted as every synapse fired. The feeling of falling encompassed her but strong, sure arms closed around her chasing it away. She truly was home.

****

Caitlin almost purred as fingers sifted through her hair randomly massaging her scalp. She kissed the breast closest to her cheek and snuggled back into the warmth that seemed to be all around her. “Not too heavy?”

“Nuh uh.” Lil yawned. “Don’t know why I’m so tired.”

“Mmm, could it be because you haven’t been sleeping?”

“Bet you haven’t either.”

“That’s beside the point. Plus, it’s not the same thing.”

Lil rolled her eyes. “I can’t sleep without you. Come on, let’s hear you say it too.”

Caitlin mumbled the words.

“What?” Lil grinned.

“You heard me!”

“Mama!”

Lil’s grin widened. “She just saved you. I want you to know that.”

“Uh, huh.” Caitlin replied as she got out of the bed. “I’ll get her.”

“Mama!!!”

Lil smiled fully, knowing the blonde was probably feeling like jelly at that moment because of a certain little girl. She canted her head to the side trying to decipher the exec’s murmurs, which just happened to be making Jamie squeal.

When they entered the room, Lil noticed the happy flush that covered her lover’s face. “If your co-workers could see you like this, they wouldn’t believe it.”

“You’re probably right.” Caitlin sat the toddler in the bed before joining them. “But I don’t give a damn about them and that’s getting stronger every day.”

“What are you saying? Don’t get me wrong. I would love to have you here everyday, but you would get bored.”

“I don’t know about that. This may be all the challenge I need.” Caitlin tweaked the infant’s nose. “Plus, I do have my MBA. I could teach.”

Lil bristled. “And have all those college girls throwing themselves at you?! I don’t think so.”

“Trust me when I say that I’m already caught.” Caitlin reached over and traced a finger over her lover’s features. “You know that I’ve had my share. I’m done with that and it did nothing for me anyway except make me a miserable bitch.”

Lil smirked. “I’ll have to agree with you there.” She sighed. “I do trust you. It’s them I don’t trust.”

“Please, all you have to do is show up and they will see what a pussy cat I am.” Gray eyes sparkled lecherously.

“Mmm, long as it’s my pu–”

“Eat mama. Eat.”

“Exactly.” Lil muttered as she tried to keep a straight face.

“The things children say.” Caitlin grinned as she leaned forward for a soft kiss. “Seriously, I hate being gone so much. My job used to be the only thing I had but now it’s just getting in the way. I didn’t think there was anything worse than being lonely.”

“What’s that?”

“Missing you. I don’t want to feel that anymore. I just want to be here.”

“You are serious aren’t you?” Lillian asked. A huge part of her jumped for joy but a smaller part of her began saying…what if. “What if you got bored with me? After all, you would see me every day, and let’s not forget about all those women.”

“You’re serious too?”

Lil nodded in reply. “Tara was enough competition… ” Ohh, I can’t believe I just said that. I know better.

Caitlin did not mean to but she did it anyway. She laughed. “Please. There was no competition I was more interested in torturing her and you know that. The first time I kissed you. . . you had me. Look at me, I’m not even the same person anymore. Look, if it bothers you this much…”

Lil swallowed and tried to push the emotions aside. “No, I can’t believe how silly I’m being.”

“It’s not silly. I’ll just have to work harder to make you believe that you’re the only one I want.” Gray eyes were soft and concerned. “Let’s just start looking around and find something that we can both agree on, okay?”

“Okay,” Lil knew that she sounded unconvinced. What is wrong with me?! She wants to get a different job so that she can be home with me, and all I do is bitch about it. I’ll make it up to her later. She needs a proper homecoming after being gone for so long.

“C’mon, we’ll talk about it later. Let’s get some breakfast.” Whoa, at least I know now that I need to tip toe around this. I would probably feel the same way if she had my past.
Part II: A Day to Remember
Lil could not stop the blossom of happy that was steadily growing inside her chest. She watched in genuine amusement as Caitlin and Jamie played with a myriad of toys strewn across the living room floor. Who would guess such an elegant woman would look at home in shorts, a t-shirt and with me? As if sensing something powerful, gray eyes glanced upward catching dark blue. “I love you,” Lil muttered without thought.

Caitlin could feel her face heat. You’d think I would be used to hearing that. “I love you too, and I missed both of you like you wouldn’t believe.” She kissed the top of Jaime’s head.

Lil laughed out loud even though she was touched. “Does that embarrass you? Not that I mind. You’re beautiful when you blush.”

“No, I just like hearing it. I don’t think that I’ll ever get tired of it.”

Lil pursed her lips. “You know, you really are –”

“Mushy?”

“No.”

“Whipped?”

“Well, yeah but I ‘m not talking about that right now.”

“What then?” Caitlin asked acerbically.

“Sweet.”

“Ugh, don’t let anyone else hear you say that. I’m supposed to be the bitch barracuda.”

“Not at home. If you were, you’re clothes would be all over the lawn.”

“Pfftttttttttttbbbbbbbt!”

“You said it Jamie. I know she wouldn’t do anything like that.”

Lil raised an elegant eyebrow. “Try me.”

“Huh, I knew there was another reason why I love you. You have the same mean streak that I do.”

Lil wagged a finger in her lover’s direction. “Don’t forget it missy.”

“Wooo, I’m scared.”

Jaime yawned.

Lil’s switched gears. It was what she had been waiting for. Her smile was slow and sexy. “No but you’ll probably be sore when I get done with you.”

Caitlin’s eyes widened. Her heart picked up speed. “Really?”

“What you don’t deserve a proper homecoming?”

“It’s not that. What was this morning?” Caitlin inquired.

“An incredible fucking start.”

“Oh, mercy.”

“Indeed.” Lil stood. “I’m going to go get cleaned up. It’s about time for Jamie’s nap.”

“I could just join you–”

“Nuh uh, there’s another bathroom. Use it. I’ve got plans.”

“Plans?”

“Very naughty plans.”

“How long?”

“Twenty minutes. If you’re late, I’ll start without you.” Lil cinched her robe tight around her, and without another word, she left the room.

“Fluck!”

“What did you just say, kiddo?”

“Fluck!”

Caitlin cringed but her lips quirked, seeing the humor. “We need to watch our language around you. It’ll be our little secret for now.” The blonde stood. Jamie reached upward, waiting to be picked up. “Right now, I’ve got to go–”

“Fluck!”

A smile just as naughty as the brunette’s plans formed on her face. “Something like that. Now, shush.”

“Shush!”

“That’s better.”

****

Warm water sluiced over Lil’s body. She hummed in delight. Wait until I’m done with her. She won’t be able to see straight enough to notice some Freshman gawking at her. She’s mine. “Mine!” Lil said out loud to no one in particular. Something inside her cringed at her own behavior. God, what am I doing? She’s always gone so I have to wonder if she’ll get tired of me if she’s here everyday.

The brunette sighed and grabbed the Nair off the shelf in the shower. Squirting some in her hand, she lathered it under her arms and over her bikini line. I know she’s thinking of us, and I don’t think I could stand her being gone that long again. I thought I was going crazy. Lil wiped the Nair from under her arms and turned off the water.

The brunette snatched two towels from the cabinet, one for her hair and the other to wrap around her body. As she headed for the bedroom, a deep burning sensation caught her attention, making her stop midway. “What the hell?”

Lil used the towel to wipe between her legs and hissed upon contact. “Damn it! I forgot. . .ow!” She continued to remove the thick lather with the towel. The burning increased. “Ow, shit!”

She threw the towel down and laid down on the bed with her legs wide open, hoping a little air might cool things down a bit. Lil was sorely disappointed. “Ow!” She fanned vigorously at herself.

Caitlin chose that moment to enter. She stopped in the middle of the room. The exec canted her head to the side. “Um, you decided to start without me?” She dropped the towel wrapped around her.

“No! Help!” Lil commanded desperately.

“Why? What’s wrong?” Caitlin moved closer.

“I burned myself!”

“Then why were you fanning . . .”

“With the Nair. I was trying to be sexy for your ass!”

“What!” Caitlin’s voice went up an octave.

“Get over here and do something!”

Totally helpless, Caitlin threw up her hands. “I don’t know what to do!”

“Blow on it! It burrrrrrrns!” The brunette whined.

Skeptical, the blonde announced. “That’s not going to do anything. You need–”

“Get over here and BLOW!” Lil’s voice was filled with anger and pain.

As if catapulted into action, Caitlin did as she was told. She climbed on the bed on all fours and kneeled between her lover’s legs. “Oh, sweetie.” It looked like raw hamburger meat.

“Blow!”

Caitlin blew.

“Oh God! Harder!”

And blew.

The blonde did her best. “Is this helping?”

“Fuck no! Do something!”

“Okay, let me think.” A few seconds ticked by as Lil continued to squirm on the bed. “I got it. I’ll be right back.”

Sweating profusely, Lil took the towel off her head. “Hurry!”

Caitlin ran through the house toward the kitchen, getting a bowl full of cold water and a stick of butter. When she returned she practically threw the water on the brunette.

“HEY!” The pain was the only thing that kept Lil from jumping off the bed in shock.

“It’s okay. The water should cool things off, and the butter–” The blonde held up the item in question.

“The butter! I’m not a damn turkey!”

“It will soothe it long enough to get to the hospital.”

Lil sat up. Her eyes were blazing. Her hair hung limply in wet hunks all over her head “I’m not going to the hospital! How am I going to explain this?” She pointed toward the injured area.

“I could call your mom or Gab…” Caitlin knew it was the wrong thing to say, but she was desperate at this point.

“WHAT!?”

“Okay, maybe that’s not the best idea.” She took a few steps away from the bed. “But you do need to go to the ER. It looks pretty bad down there.”

“Oh, God! I don’t think I can close my legs let alone walk!” Lil’s face was flushed and sweaty. Her hands dug into the bedding for some kind of support.

At that moment, Caitlin could see the humor in the situation, shining deliciously like a beacon in the night. She bit her lip.. . hard to keep from laughing out loud. Suspicious blue eyes tracked her every movement.

Outraged, Lil interjected, “Are you. . . are you laughing?!”

Caitlin thrust her hands out in front of her in a gesture of surrender. “No! Baby, no. You’re hurt. This isn’t the least bit funny.” Caitlin averted her eyes and put the butter on the nightstand. Inside, she roared. “Let’s get you something loose to put on. You have to go to the hospital.”

Lil whimpered. “Will you stay with me. I don’t like anyone else poking around down there except you.”

That’s not going to happen for a while. . .damn it! “I will. I promise. Let me help you get dressed, and I’ll go get Jamie.”

“Kay.”

****

Caitlin helped Lil back into the car. The hospital had been a one of a kind experience. Unfortunately, Mission Hospital was a teaching one. Every intern in the area was perched between the brunette’s legs to get a look at what she herself had termed a minor household incident. Caitlin had to become the bitch that she was to save her lover at least a little bit of dignity.

Once Jamie was strapped in, Caitlin settled herself into the driver’s seat. She glanced at the brunette and muttered, “Do you need anything from the store? You know, something to help you feel better?”

Lil shook her head. “No. Just want to go home.”

“Fluck!”

The brunette’s eyes widened and her pale face was suddenly infused with color. “What did she say?”

“Fluck!”

Caitlin groaned. “Kiddo, you have great timing. I was going to tell–”

“Fluck!”

There was total silence in the car. Caitlin pulled over to the side of the road. She slumped away from the steering wheel toward the window. Her shoulders shook with a vengeance.

Lil leaned over to touch her lover. “Baby are you–”

Laughter burst from the blonde in huge loud waves. “I’m sorry.. .” she snorted. Her face was beet red and tears streamed down her cheeks. Caitlin sucked in a deep breath and husked, “I hope it’s okay to laugh now.” She dissolved back into mirth.

Caitlin’s laughter was apparently contagious. Jamie began to giggle and squeal gleefully.

Lil sighed and rolled her eyes before letting a smile spread over her face. “What am I going to do with you two?”

“Shush!” Jamie added for good measure.

****

Caitlin swatted at the blaring alarm, knocking it off the nightstand. She groaned and rolled back over, snuggling into the brunette’s side.

” ‘S time to get up already?” Lil moaned.

The blonde yawned as she rubbed her foot against her lover’s calf. “No, just automatically set it. Wasn’t thinking.” The executive nuzzled the other woman’s neck. “Forgot I was taking a few days off.”

“Mmm, don’t start.”

Caitlin groaned in earnest. “Ugh, three weeks is a long time especially after waiting so long before.”

“Yeah it is. Serves me right.”

“Whatcha mean?”

“Being jealous.”

“Huh? Over who?”

“Those college girls,” the brunette answered meekly.

“Oh, Sparky. . .”

“I know. Don’t worry. I think I ‘m over it for the time being.”

“Well, look at it this way. If I do get a position at one of the surrounding colleges. I’ll have a new desk to bend you over.”

Lil chuckled. “That’s true, but don’t go into detail. I’ll just get horny.” She paused. “And the things we could do in an empty classroom. . .”

“Mmm, I do love the way your mind works.” Caitlin bit into the back of the brunette’s shoulder.

Lil whimpered, “Behave.”

“Mama!”

Before anything else was said, Caitlin was up garnering a rode. “Be right back.”

The two of them huddled around the animated toddler. Lil watched in amusement as Jamie made her way to her favorite place, the blonde’s chest. The brunette propped herself up on an elbow, looking at the exchange between her lover and child. Her heart melted for the umpteenth time. Having this woman in her life, it really was the sweetest thing.
Story #16: A Day in Our Lives (AKA “Snow Days”)
Tara hummed as she put an obscene amount of sugar into the chocolate flavored coffee. With that done, she started on the cream. She continued to hum as she placed the hot biscuits, eggs, and piles of bacon onto a single plate then onto a tray. It was the middle of the week, but there was an ungodly amount of snow on the ground. It was not enough to stop the city, but it was enough to stop her. The brunette did not mind one bit if that meant she got to “sleep in” with a certain strawberry blonde wrapped tight around her. It did not matter that her brother was trapped in the house with them. It was his fault for popping up in the first place. Besides, he had earphones with his IPOD. A slow smile graced her lips and as she turned, the mechanic burst into all out song. “Aah, aah dude look like a lady… aah aha dude look like a –”

“Oh my fucking God! My eyes… I’m blind. It’s a naked woman. It’s a naked sister!”

“Goddammit!” Tara exclaimed.

Gabrielle came speeding around the corner, pulling on her robe in the process. “What?!”

In total dramatic fashion befitting a drag queen, Jake swooned, covered his eyes and reached out as if feeling the air. “Didn’t you hear me the first time!? I’m blind, Red!”

Gabrielle covered her mouth to hide the laughter erupting as she took in the scene.

“Turpentine! Wash them out with turpentine!”

The shaking blonde laughed harder and nearly doubled over when she caught her lover rolling her eyes. She winked at the mechanic and grabbed her pseudo brother in law, dragging him out of the kitchen.

“Behave, it’s not like it’s the first time.” She told him with mock seriousness.

“Yeah, but this was a full frontal and her nipples! Have you seen them? They’re huge!”

The writer chuckled. “I like them that way.”

“Look, I’m really glad you guys worked everything out, but this is too much.”

Gabrielle clapped him on the back. “Whatever. Since you ruined my breakfast in bed, after your sister gets dressed why don’t we all eat together?”

“Ugh, it depends on what you mean about eat!”

Gabrielle squinted her eyes and pursed her lips.

“Fine! If you’ll protect me from the nipples!” Jake retorted loudly.

“I heard that queenie!”

Jake chuckled, “I’ll see you guys in a few minutes.”

When Gabrielle made it back to the bedroom, the mechanic was pulling on a t-shirt. Said nipples were pointing majestically in her direction. Unable to resist since it was the topic of the morning, she reached out to tweak one.

“Red! Now you behave or we’ll never make it to breakfast.” Tara smirked and her eyes were filled with a mixture of sensual promise and mirth. “Besides there is always later.” Her eyebrows wiggled.

The writer laughed. “Promises, promises. So, are you traumatized?”

Tara shook her head and smiled, “You know, the scary thing is that I’m actually used to everyone seeing the naked.”

Gabrielle ambled forward and tilted her head upward for a kiss, and her lover obliged her. “Mmm, that’s good. I don’t think I will. I still get all tingly when I see you.” She reached under the brunette’s t-shirt, flattening her palms against the washboard stomach.

Tara stopped wandering hands from going further and gave the writer a stern look. “Thank God someone thinks I’m hot shit. He’s meeting us at the table for breakfast?”

The strawberry blonde sighed and pouted. “Yep, So what are we going to do today since we’re probably stuck here until they get the roads plowed?”

Tara looked thoughtful, “We could play pin the tail on the drag queen?”

The blonde scoffed, “Be serious.”

The phone began to ring.

“I was. Why don’t you get that? I’ll see you in a minute.”

The writer waved her lover away as she reached for the phone. Tara stopped in the doorway, leaning against it and just watching. I can’t believe we made it back to each other. It was very scary for a while, but I guess a little therapy goes a long way. I know more about her now than I did when we first started dating. I know that was part of the problem, and now it feels like I see something new in her everyday. I like it that way.

The sound of the blonde’s laughter pulled Tara from her reverie. It was the truth. They had come a long way. They did not live together at the moment, but T knew that they were getting there. Smiling at the sound of the blonde’s continued laughter and knowing that it had become commonplace again sent her back into a fit of humming. She suddenly hoped her brother was out and about so that could serenade him properly with the song that had been in her head all morning. It was perfect for him. The mechanic hummed loudly as she walked down the hallway. It was kind of a new hobby but what the hell it was kind of a new day.
Chapter 2
Jake snatched the remote from his sister’s hands and stuck out his tongue. “Let’s watch E! It’s a lot more interesting than cartoons.”

“Let’s not and say we did.” With a quickness that astounded her sibling, Tara took the remote back. “We could compromise and watch Court TV. I think that has plenty of drama and entertainment value.”

“Ohh, such big words. The writer rubbing off on you?”

Tara smiled dreamily. “Rubbing something.”

“Ah, ewww.”

“Stop it you’re just jealous.”

Jake paused thoughtfully, “You could be right about that.”

“Tired of spreading yourself around?”

“Yeah, especially since my HIV test was negative. Just the scare was enough to make me think.”

“Well don’t do it unless you’re ready. It ain’t as easy as it looks.”

“I don’t know, T. I’ve seen other people make it look as easy as pie. Maybe we’re just cursed.”

Tara glanced at her brother, intrigued by his words. “You mean things are just gonna be hard for us all the way around?”

Jake curled up his lip as if he smelled something bad. “Could be. We have the looks. Can’t have everything.”

Blue peered into blue.

“That’s crap you little fuck shit. That’s victim talk.”

Jake canted his head to the side, deep in momentary contemplation. “That was some negative shit I was spouting, huh?”

“Uh huh, keep it up. I’m gonna bury your ass in the snow.”

“Yeah, and I’ll break your hand. What would Red do without it?”

“I got another one.”

“Ugh, probably using your foot too. Don’t you just love the honeymoon period? How are you two able to tear yourselves away from each other this long?”

Tara rolled her eyes and shrugged, “She had work to do, and the day isn’t over yet, queenie.” She waved the remote in his face.

Jake promptly stole it and turned to E!

“Hey!”

****

Gabrielle smiled at the sound of their bickering. She had missed it dearly. It was strange really how she could miss things that she never really paid attention to like doing the mechanic’s laundry or counting how many curse words she used in a day. She missed it all and now her life was so much more full than before. Her trust ran deeper; her love ran deeper. The journey they had been on to get this place had been important but now that they had arrived, this … day to day living was paramount.

The writer’s smile became a distracted smirk. She peered at the blinking cursor on the monitor. After three hours, she had written only five pages. The blond was not worried, knowing that it was not writer’s block in any conventional sense. It was more a rearrangement of her priorities and at the moment, the tall, leggy blue eyed wonder in her living room took precedent. Besides, there was plenty of time for writing having gotten an extension on her next book. I’m thankful that I even have the capacity to be creative. I would have thought killing a man would have changed all that. Therapy really is a wonderful thing. Refusing to get bogged down with disturbing thoughts of the past, Gabrielle’s memories extended to the night before; the night before that; the week before; and the week before that. I thought sex had been good between us before. Now, there are no words for it, and shouldn’t there be a law or something that limits the amount of orgasms you can have in a day? The writer licked her lips and squirmed in her seat. The pleasant pull of soreness made her shudder. “I guess not.” She rose and walked into the hallway with purpose.

“Goddammit, J! You asshole give it here!”

Jake jumped up from the couch and shoved the remote down his pants. “I was right in the middle of a show! How rude are you?” He paused and smiled cheerily. “Come get it. I dare you.”

Two sets of ice blue eyes squinted as one attempted to stare down the other.

“Now, boys. Do I have to sit here and teach you to play nice with each other?” Gabrielle quirked a brow and waited for an answer.

“You can teach her some manners!”

“Hey, it’s Red’s TV. That makes it as good as mine, so-”

Green eyes swung the mechanic’s way. Her gaze softened then turned lascivious. “Speaking of what’s yours. Can I talk to you for a minute?”

Tara’s heart quickened and her stomach twisted pleasurably. “Uhm, yeah…I-”

“Just follow me.” Gabrielle crooked a finger.

“Kay.” The mechanics breath came out in a whoosh, and she found that when she tried to catch it back, breathing was lost to her completely.

“Bow chicka wow wow…” The brunette heard somewhere in the background. She ignored it. With each step she took, she concentrated more and more on the hips that swiveled in front of her. She did not dare touch her, knowing that there would be no time or inclination to make it to a nearby room.

Gabrielle walked on wobbly legs into her office. She sat on the edge of her desk and watched as the mechanic closed the door behind her. The air crackled between them. Blue met green and the room was seated with the heat.

“You wanted something?” Tara asked hoarsely.

“Uh huh.” Gabrielle reached for the belt of her jeans. Hastily, she unbuckled it and ripped the zipper down without breaking eye contact.

“Need some inspiration…something to get your juices flowing?” Tara moved slowly, intentionally.

“Uh huh.” The blonde’s chest heaved as she fought for air. She kicked off her pants and underwear and spread her legs wide as the brunette stepped into the inviting “v”.

Tara’s tongue snaked out to meet her lover’s lips. Gabrielle moaned as she parted for her. The kiss was languid, soft and teasing. Tara nipped at the blonde’s mouth until she began to whimper.

Gabrielle wound a hand into the brunette’s hair, pulling harshly. “Don’t tease.”

With one last hard kiss, Tara pulled away. “You want me baby?”

“Uh huh.”

“That bad?”

Gabrielle reached between her legs, brushing her fingertips over sensitive, moist flesh. Without looking at the appendages, she brought them back up and forced them into her lover’s mouth. “Uh huh.”

Tara growled as she sucked. In one smooth motion, she pushed the blond further onto the desk and kneeled in front of her. The sight and the smells that greeted her made her head swim. She dove right in.

“Ah fuck!” Gabrielle shoved her fist into her mouth to keep from screaming and tangled the other into dark tresses. The brunette’s tongue felt as if it were everywhere at once; licking, lapping, teasing. Her clit throbbed and screamed in pleasure as if it had a mind of its own. Lips sucked and nipped sending her to a place that every woman should visit often.

Tara moaned as the taste and textures sent her own body into a tale spin. She spread the blonde’s legs wider as she delved deeper. The brunette’s sex pulsed with each muffled cry the writer uttered. Still, she wanted, needed more. Tara speared her tongue deep, feeling wet flesh pulse around her. A strangled sound from above signaled that she did not have long to enjoy this particular exploration. So, Tara reveled in it, meshing her whole face into lover’s sex.

An ear splitting cry and a flood of moisture signaled that it was time to move on. She rose quickly, majestically, pulling the blond to her. Without any warning at all, she slid in three fingers.

“Oh God! I can’t-”

With as much endearment as possible Tara whispered, “Shut up,” before covering the writer’s mouth with her own. She wanted to go slow, but her own need dictated another route. Each thrust was high, hard, and deep. The wet smack of flesh; the sounds of the blonde’s pleasure; and the smell of it all wafting in the air was too much. Tara tore her mouth away and came with a mighty shout. Gabrielle dug her nails into the brunette’s t-shirted shoulders as orgasm swamped her senses, wringing her dry. Unable to muster a scream, she mewled piteously.

It seemed like forever passed before either of them spoke.

“Whoa,” the writer mumbled.

“Uh huh.” The mechanic retorted and chuckled when her lover smacked her on the shoulder.

“Bow chicka wow WOW!” Came for the vicinity of the hallway.

The blond blushed scarlet before bursting into laughter.

“Don’t worry. I already know where I’m going to bury him.”
Chapter 3
Jake knew it was probably best to make himself scarce even though it was quiet some time later. He adjusted the volume to his IPOD, closed his eyes and began nodding his head to the music. He colored twenty different shades of surprise when the writer taped him on the leg. The brunette let out a squeal and put a hand over his heart before removing the earphones. They stared at each other for several long minutes. Then burst into peels of laughter.

“Red, oh God, you gotta…stop!” Jake huffed.

Gabrielle sighed, “Geez you’d think we were a couple of ten year olds.”

Jake wiped his eyes. “S-so you’re not mad? At the moment, it seemed like a good idea. I couldn’t help but hear you while I was walking down the hall.”

Gabrielle shook her head. “Not mad really. It kinda made things seem like a really, really hot porno with some sort of weird comedic edge.”

“Hmm, I bet your other half is liv-id,” he sang the word extending the syllables.

“Eh, she’ll get over it faster if you don’t tease her about it.”

“My God, you might as well be asking me to part the Red Sea!”

“I mean it, Jake.” Her expression was stern and serious. “You know how sensitive she is sometimes even though she hides it well.”

“Mmm, alright. It just feels like things are back to normal.”

“Well, it is, but it’s better than normal.” The writer stated dreamily.

They peered at each other and began laughing again.

“Yeah, that was too much.”

“No, Red, it was sweet in a icky gooey kind of way. Don’t do it again.”

Gabrielle held up her hand, “You have my word.”

“So where is she now?”

“Watching the History Channel. There is a special about motorcycles throughout history.”

“Ah, well could be interesting. I watched one of those about the history of the toilet, damned if I wasn’t glued to the TV just about the whole time.” He paused and stood. “I”ll go keep her company and I’ll behave. What are you gonna do?”

“Fix a late lunch. I’m starving!”

“Who wouldn’t be after fucking a marathon,” Jake whispered.

Green eyes squinted. “What did you say?”

Jake smiled, “I said I wanted pancakes and Billy Ray.”

The writer’s eyes rolled. “Just keep her busy and out of the kitchen. We don’t need to be alone together for a while or else I won’t have any skin left.”

“Eww, images.”

****

Jake plopped down on the couch beside his sister. He grinned, “I know that I’m not who you were expecting but I love you too.” He batted his eyelashes.

“Yeah, but I can’t make out with you.”

“Ah, no but if we were step siblings and the whole gay thing I might give it a go. Remember that movie? What was the name of it?”

“Ohh, you mean the one with the girl from Anne of Green Gables in it?!”

“Yeah!”

“I don’t know. Can’t remember. Let’s go Google it!”

They both got up excitedly and headed to the writer’s office. They fought over who got to sit in the chair. Tara won. “I got it fair, bitch.”

“Fine, fine just hurry up. I hate not knowing.”

“What was her name?”

“Anne…of Green Gables. You need me to spell it?”

Tara elbowed her brother in the stomach and chuckled. “I miss this shit don’t you. I’m glad we’re having fun again. And God, its nice knowing that I’m not as big a fuck up as I thought I was.”

Still wallowing in good humor, Jake sobered somewhat. “Then there’s hope for both of us because I thought this drama was going to really mess you up.”

“Me too.”

“Glad you’re back, sis.”

“Eww do you have to get all mushy? Don’t push it. I owe you one.”

Jake pursed his lips together tightly, fighting the temptation. His eyes widened. “I got it! Megan Follows! That’s her name!”

“Aww, yeah!” Tara scanned through the actress’ filmography. “Oh, “Sins of Innocence.”

“That’s it. I wonder if we could get that on DVD?”

“Probably not since it was a made for TV movie.”

“Aw well.” He waved his hand in dismissal. “How did we get on this subject again?”

“Because your pervert ass wanted to make out.”

“Ah, now it makes sense. Back to the motorcycles?”

“Yeah, I’m gonna stop by the kitchen and grab a drink. You want anything?”

“Coke. Go easy on the ice.” Jake watched her go. I’m sure Red will be fine. Skin grows back doesn’t it?

The kitchen door opened with a near silent whoosh. Tara spotted her lover tip toeing in an effort to get a jar of something out of one of the higher cabinets. Without making a sound, the mechanic snuck up behind the blonde, leaned over hear and snatched the item form its hiding place.

“Dammit T! You scared three years off me!”

“Uh, hmm, looks like we’re going to have to work on stretching your legs later.”

Gabrielle melted then grinned. “You say the sweetest things.”

“I know.”

The writer slapped her lover on the shoulder. “What are you doing in here anyway?”

“Drinks. What smells good?”

“Pasta Alfredo with sun dried tomatoes and shrimp.”

“Oh, sounds good.”

Tara followed the writer back to the stove, peering over her shoulder into the bubbling pot.

Gabrielle dipped the spoon in and brought it back to her mouth to check for seasoning. “Mmm, wanna taste?”

“Hell, yes, it looks good.”

The blonde spun and wrapped her arms around the mechanic’s neck. “Yes, you do. Taste the same way too.”

Tara could feel the hot flush creeping up her neck.

“Oh my…are you blushing?”

“No, I-”

“That’s so cute that I have that effect on you.”

Tara hiked an eyebrow an smirked rakishly. “I like the other effects too.” Her head bowed slightly to reach the writer’s lips.

They kissed leisurely, moving their bodies slowly from side to side as if dancing. Gabrielle pulled away. She could feel the heat in her face. ‘I love this…whatever this is between us. It’s too bad we had to go through so much to get here.”

“I know. I was so scared when we first started dating that it was just sex and when it became more than that I think we had to retrace our steps.”

Gabrielle sighed, “So much has happened and we’re having more sex now than we did before. What do you think that means?”

“It means, I love you.” The mechanic whispered. “I can’t keep my hands off of you, and since we’ve opened up to each other everything is more intense.”

“Hmm, that’s a thought. It could also be that we’re trying to fuck away the guilt we’re feeling.”

“Is that so bad? I think the Doc said it was normal.”

“No not bad. I just want you to forgive yourself.” The writer ran a finger down the brunette’s nose to her lips before winding a hand in dark hair.

“I’m getting there, Red. What about you?”

“Me? What I did-”

Gabrielle gave under the sharp gaze. “Okay, no, not yet … not completely, but I guess you know that.”

“Yes, I do, and you know what? It’s okay.”

“It is isn’t it?”

“Mmmhmm.” Tara leaned in for a quick kiss.

Gabrielle returned the gesture then turned, heading toward the refrigerator. “Beer for you. Coke for Jake.”

“You know me so well.”

“Yes, I can say that I do.” They grinned at each other like school girls with a secret before the writer stood on tip toes to make deeper contact. She nipped at the brunette’s bottom lip then soothed it with her tongue. Breathing became heavy.

“Hey, look what the snow threw up.”

The couple groaned at the intrusion.

“Just can’t leave you two alone.”

“Whatever, queenie. Now, what were you talking about?” The mechanic asked her brother.

Shannon stepped from behind the taller man. He took off the green toboggan and matching gloves, shoving them into the pockets of the thick, black parka. “Ugh, I couldn’t stand being at home alone anymore. They have to roads pretty clear. Still icy though, and I had to dig myself out of my driveway.” He paused to take a breath. ” I needed to be around another human. So, here I am.” He spread his arms wide and looked at his friends expectantly.

Gabrielle smiled sadly, “Hungry? We were about to have a late lunch.”

“Don’t ask them why it’s late?!” Jake announced. Two sets of eyes zeroed in on him one the color of his own and the other an interesting shade of green. “Wha-oh, I forgot.” Jake put a arm around Shannon and took the parka as the other man took it off. “Sorry, man. That was insensitive. I’ve been acting like an ass all day. It’s hard to give it up.”

Shannon ducked his head. When he looked backup, a watery smile graced his face. “No, no it’s okay. I didn’t come here to bring everybody down. I know I got what I deserved–”

“Stop it, Shan!” Gabrielle ordered through gritted teeth.

“No, it’s okay. I’m glad you guys made it through, but I don’t think we will. After all, I did the deed completely.” He covered his face to hide the tears. “I said I wasn’t going to do this…talk about it; think about it; I just wanted company.”

Gabrielle rushed over to her best friend, engulfing him in a hug. “It’s okay. You’re always welcome no matter what.”

Shannon sobbed. “I’m sorry but thank you. I should probably start calling before I pop over. It’s going to be hell being a friend to both of us.”

“I can handle it. It’s a small thing, you know compared to everything else.”

“Yeah, I gotcha. So,” He sucked in a breath. “Somebody going to get me a beer?”

Tara smiled as she did the honors but her eyes communicated understanding. She put an arm over her friend’s shoulder and ushered him out of the kitchen. “We’ll be back,” she muttered over her shoulder.

Tara showed him into the writer’s office. Where he promptly began to cry again.

“Hurts like fuck. I know.”

“H-how do you get passed it?”

“Take the time to forgive yourself and it does take… some time.”

“You there yet?”

“Almost.”

“I’m so glad you guys are okay. It’s been great seeing you climb all over each other the past couple months.” Shannon sniffled. “But how did you do it? Was the therapist that good? No offense.”

Tara’s smile was no more than a baring of teeth. “None taken. Therapy helped but we had to want to do the work. Let me tell you that was the hardest shit I’ve ever done. I felt like I was naked all the time. Now, I realize that she’s naked with me. That made it easier. Is Wayne talking to you?”

Shannon shook his head. “No and from what I hear he didn’t waste any time getting back on the ho train.”

“Can you blame him?”

“No.”

“Then you gotta figure out if you’re going to wait or move on. I know you love him, but–”

“Sometimes that’s not enough.”

“Yeah, and sometimes it’s everything.”

Shannon plucked a hand full of Kleenex from a nearby box. “Thanks, I needed to hear that.”

Tara smirked. “Help you any?”

Shannon grinned back. “Not the least bit.”

Tara slapped him on the back. “That’s what friends are for. Let’s go eat.”
Chapter 4
They crowded around the dining table. The platter in the middle had been almost totally depleted and the table was littered with bottles of beer and cans of soda. Mirth surrounded them.

“You’re kidding?! She did that?” Shannon asked as he sipped on his second beer.

“Yep, I thought I was going to puke from laughing so hard.” Gabrielle answered. “But it’s never been boring between us.”

“It’s Jake’s fault. He was supposed to go grocery shopping! Besides isn’t it the thought that counted?” Tara nearly pouted.

“But T! Fried bologna with sour cream? That doesn’t even go together. Why didn’t you just take her out?” Shannon continued to inquire.

“Hey, I was dressed nice while I made it, and it wasn’t about going out it was about us being together.” The mechanic smirked. “I knew I had her when she ate it anyway.”

“You had me long before then.” The blond wiggled her eyebrows.

“Oh my God! She has that move down!” Jake snickered. “But really did you kiss? Was it awkward to be dating again?”

Gabrielle shook her head. “Wasn’t awkward at all. Kinda felt like coming home after being outside waiting for a long time.”

Blue met green in silent understanding. I want to live here forever, Red no matter how much we have to renovate.

There was a collective gasp then “Aww.”

Jake made hacking noises, “I thought we had a convo about icky sappy?”

“Shut up Jake! We’ve got to get you a man.” His sister added.

“I can get my own men. Thank you.”

Everyone snorted.

Jake pointed at each one individually, “Fuck you, fuck you and fuck you and so on.”

They all laughed.

“So what are we doing tonight?” Gabrielle interjected.

“I was thinking we could just buy a bunch of movies off of pay per view–” Tara started.

“I don’t think so. Let’s go to R Place.” Jake interrupted.

“It’s cold as shit outside. Who’s gonna come out in that?” Tara rebutted.

“You’d be surprised especially since there’s not going to be more snow. The place will be packed because people have been cooped up all day.” Shannon muttered.

“So what do you think?” Tara asked her lover.

“It’s fine with me. We haven’t been there for ages. Is there a show tonight you think?”

“I’m sure they’ll throw something together, but I think I’ll sit this one out. I’ve had a lot of fun today.”

Eyes turned on him. “Okay, mainly at other people’s expense. I mean, yeah, we see each other almost everyday; we talk; we joke; but I think the snow was a good thing. And I would love to hang out with you guys tonight.”

“Quennie, that’s the most intelligent thing that’s come out of your mouth all day, and so many words too. School is really working for you. You get a gold star!”

Jake shot his sister the finger.

Tara chuckled. “Seriously, I know what you mean, though. It’s like today is kinda like our lives concentrated at least as they are now.”

“Makes sense. So, R’Place it is. Me and Jake will dig out Red’s car.”

“Why can’t we just take yours?”

“Well just in case one of us wants to leave early for some reason or another,” Shannon answered.

Tara gave her friend a confused look.

“You know.” He widened his eyes.

“For goodness sakes! He means in case we get some ass.” Jake threw his hands up and shouted.

****

Tara stepped out of the shower and smoothed her hair back.

“My God, you look even better wet! Have I told you that?”

Tara smirked, “Yesss. Now, no touchy or we’ll never get out of here.”

Gabrielle sauntered forward intent on at least getting a hug maybe a little kiss. “Not just a little one?” She pouted.

“Noo!” Tara shooed her away. “You’re bad! Little one’s turn into really big ones and before you know it my tongue–”

“Shut up…just shut up right now.” The writer sucked in a needed breath as her stomach fluttered.

They stopped and stared at each other. The air was charged around them.

“Um…clothes…I’m gonna–” Tara licked her lips and lost her mind. Her nipples tingled and her skin was on fire.

Gabrielle nodded and had to tear her gaze away. “Yeah, you do that.”

Tara buttoned her jeans then proceeded to do the same with the khaki colored shirt. She smiled as she felt arms engulf her from behind. “Cooled off?”

Gabrielle sighed, “Not really but its manageable. The shower helped.” She stepped away from the mechanic. “Just let me blow dry, get make up on and get dressed. I’ll be ready to go.”

Tara peered at her lover as she walked toward the closet. “Looks good on you too?”

“What?”

“Water.”

Gabrielle groaned, “Don’t start!”

Laughter followed.

****

They parked outside the non descript building and met at the entrance.

“Looks like you guys were right. This place is packed,” Gabrielle commented as she scanned the gravel parking lot filled with vehicles.

“Told you. Cabin fever. Let’s go in. It’s freezing!” Jake said.

The door opened to a new world. The warmth greeted them along with laughter and loud music. People surrounded the bar, filled the small tables; and crowded around the pool tables.

“Somebody play some Cher!” A patron screamed rather loudly.

“That’s fag music!” Someone answered followed by rounds of chuckles.

Tara smiled as she leaned down toward her lover. “Wanna drink?” She whispered loudly in her ear.

Gabrielle nodded, “Something sweet. Don’t forget to get the boys a bitch beer.”

The mechanic grinned in response as she watched her posse make their way upstairs. The brunette elbowed her way closer to the bar. She made eye contact with the bartender and crooked her finger to give her order. Vince winked and smiled in return as he pushed the drinks toward her.

Someone squealed behind her. She turned hoping the find the location of the disturbing noise.

“Teeeee–” It seemed to go on and on. Tara rolled her eyes.

“Where have you been hiding yourself, girl?” A tall, willowy black man asked.

The brunette turned around completely and leaned against the bar. “I’ve been around just not here.”

“Mmm hmm, everything all better? I’m not stupid, you know word gets around.”

Tara cringed on the inside. I forgot how small and unhealthy the gay community can be. “Yep, all better. I’ve missed hanging out with all you ladies. Are you in the show tonight?”

“We miss you too, girl even with your fine ass brother around.” He leaned in. “Look, I wasn’t saying that to be nosey. I’ve known you for a long time and I want you to be okay, hear?” He looked her straight in the eye conveying his seriousness.

Tara gave him a sincere grin, “I know Jamie.”

His face transformed as he gave her a dazzling smile. “Good girl.” He patter her cheek. “I’ll keep you in mind during the show.”

Tara groaned.

Jamie cackled.

****

Tara navigated the stairs effortlessly despite have her hands full. She squinted through the strobbing lights until she saw familiar faces. The mechanic made her way over and dispensed the drinks.

She sat down and glanced around at her surroundings, “It’s looks the same.” The music was present but faint no more than background noise at the moment, giving them the chance to conversate in semi-normal tones.

“It’s not like it’s been years since you’ve been here,” Shannon muttered.

“I know, but it feels different.”

“Oh God, she’s about to get corny. You should’ve brought me another drink if you were going to do that.” Jake submitted with a fake pained expression.

“Shut up ass!” Tara popped her brother in the back of the head.

“Yeah, I know what you mean.” Gabrielle chimed in.

Tara ignored her brother and leaned in close to her lover. “What do you think it is?”

The writer shrugged, “Don’t know exactly. Could be because we started new on everything.”

Tara nodded reasonably satisfied. “Could be.” She smirked at the blonde who leaned in for a kiss.

Shannon and Jake covered their eyes, “Here they go again.”

Both men received a slap to the back of the head.

They all moved closer to each other as conversation went on. No one saw the woman approaching. When she made it to her target, she wrapped her arms around the mechanic’s neck and squished her cleavage into the back of Tara’s head. “I saw you kissing her.” She waved her hand in the writer’s direction, “But I didn’t think it looked zeriousss. So, I dezided to come over. Maybe we could pick up where we left off?” The blond woman slurred most of her words and reeked of alcohol.

Tara froze. Fear was the first emotion that pummeled her then anger and shame. Not now. Not today in front of everybody. She doesn’t need this. We don’t need this. She knocked the woman’s hands away vehemently and looked across the table to her friend and brother. Their expressions were a mixture of panic and disbelief. The breath rattled in the brunette’s chest as she was compelled to glance at her lover. Gabrielle’s face was white and Tara knew she had to act quickly. Her instinct was to snarl at the woman but she knew this would only make a scene. Instead, she took a second to think. The mechanic leaned toward the writer. “I’ll take care of this.”

Tara peered at the woman who looked back at her expectantly. In as clear and calm a voice as she could muster, Tara replied, “What you just did was disrespectful as hell. Not only is my partner sitting here but so is my family. I’m sorry,” She shook her head. “I’m not into quick fucks. I didn’t mean to give you that impression.”

As if there were cotton wool in her ears the blond woman added, “Well, it doesn’t have to be quick.”

Tara’s eyes widened incredulously, then she began to chuckle. “I’m trying not to hurt your feelings. I don’t even remember your name or what you felt like.” The brunette crooked her finger, bidding the woman closer. She pointed at the writer. “You see her? That’s what I’m into. I remember every touch, every kiss and every taste. You’re nothing to me, and I don’t want you to feel like you ARE nothing. Do you understand?”

The woman grinned sloppily. “So what you’re saying is that you don’t wanna fuck?”

Tara nearly screamed as her temper snapped. “Look, you stu-”

Watching the proceedings as if she were in a tennis match, Gabrielle recognized the signs of the impending explosion. She jumped up and in front of the brunette. “Perhaps she needed to speak slower for you. Let me help. It …was….a…mistake. She…doesn’t…want…you.”

“Well damn. No need to get nasty. Why didn’t she say s-so in the first place? I wasted ten minutes.” The woman threw her hair over her shoulder and walked away.

Gabrielle was the first to sit down. Even though she was irritated by the whole scene, she bubbled with pride. Her insides felt warm and glowy. I think that I was prepared for that. This town is too small. I knew it would happen sooner or later. She took a breath, digging deeper and searching her feelings for resentment and anger. They were there but it was only a dull throb.

Tara touched the blonde to get her attention. The brunette’s expression was guarded. “I didn’t mean for that to be thrown in your face. I’m sorry.”

Gabrielle reached for the mechanic’s hand and clutched it in her own. “I’m only human. Some part of me wanted to punch her and maybe scratch her eyes out. Some part of me wanted to punch you too, but it was a really small part.” The blond scanned the room expecting to see may eyes zeroed in on them. There were a few but it was to be expected. They wanted a show then she was going to give them one of a different kind. In an unexpected move, Gabrielle brought the mechanic’s hand to her mouth for a kiss and then did the same with her lips. Let them think what they want. “I love you and I’m stronger than that.” The blond felt some of the tension leave her lover’s body.

Blue eyes twinkled in relief and affection. I don’t know what I did to deserve her, but damn if I’m not going to keep her. “We can leave if you want? I’ll understand-”

“I know you do. You’ll understand too if I say let’s stay. Fuck them all. We’re around the people who count. Let’s have a good time.”

Tara’s eyes widened and unable to help herself, she smirked. “You sure that you’re okay?”

“Trust me. I’m fine. I’m over it and she’s not worth it.”

Hearing the last part because he was shamelessly eavesdropping, “Here! Here!” Jake added.

Shannon took it upon himself to smack the other man in the back of the head.

“What?!”

“Well, that wasn’t that interesting. I was expecting–” Shannon stated.

“What? For me to get up and snatch the hair from her head?”

Shannon put a finger to his lips as if he were contemplating. “Now, that would have been special. Add some mud and we could have made some money tonight right along with the queens. I’m betting that you fight dirty and would have had her beat hands down.”

“You think?”

Three heads nodded.

Gabrielle let out a delighted laugh. “I love the confidence you guys have in me.” The writer brought her drink to her lips and drained the remains of it. “I’m going to go get another drink. Anybody want?”

“You sure you want to go down there? Maybe we should send one of the boys–” Tara asked concerned.

The blond waved in nonchalance. “I’m sure it’s fine. I bet she’s long gone.”

“Alright then.”

Jake and Tara place their orders.

As Gabrielle stepped into the area, eyes peered at her then turned away. She pushed her way toward the bar itself and wiggled into a tiny space in between two men and placed her order.

A tap on the shoulder made the writer glance in that direction. Astonishment struck her immediately. The blond woman from earlier looked back at her expectantly. Gabrielle turned and raised a brow. She grumbled internally. Maybe we’ll make some money after all. I don’t need this too! “Yess?”

“Let’s see if you’re so s-smart without your entrage bitch. I’m not stupid and I don’t aprimate you and your girlfriend talking to me like that.”

The other brow rose, “Come again?” It had become somewhat silent around them.

“You heard me!”

Gabrielle bit her lip to keep from laughing, knowing that would not be the right thing to do. She suddenly felt sorry for the woman. “Look, can’t we just let this all go?”

“No!”

Gabrielle groaned as someone put on “Another One Bites’ the Dust.” The writer was resigned, knowing this was going to end badly. “Okay, do what you need to do.”

“Huh?” The woman asked, confused.

“Do I look like the type to engage in bar fights?”

“I don’t care what you gage in?!” She slurred.

The writer pressed her lips together tightly. “Uh huh, let’s just get this over with.”

“That’s it bitch!” The woman flailed about as if she were having a seizure. Then, she charged.

Gabrielle quickly moved out of the way and watched in tragic awe as the woman tripped, fell forward and hit her head on the bar, knocking herself cold. There was complete silence around her. The writer glanced at the bartender, who shrugged. Then she peered around the bar as the patrons watched and laughed. The man next to her commented, “Damndest thing I’ve ever seen. You’re magic lady. Knocking somebody out without even landing a punch.”

Gabrielle let out a nervous chuckle. “Um thanks, I think.” She kneeled down to check on the woman, hoping her injuries were not life threatening. The other blond groaned when the writer touched her shoulder. “Is there a doctor or nurse down here?”

Another man stepped forward. “I’ll take care of her don’t worry about it. I can’t believe I sat back and watched this happen. She gets herself in the biggest messes.”

“What about the police or an ambulance?”

“I’m a nurse lady and so is she. It’s fine. She’s so fucked up that she probably won’t even remember any of this. Everyone saw how it went down. You don’t have anything to worry about.”

“Are you sure?”

The man bent down to help his friend up. “Yeah, go ahead and get your drinks. They’re on me. I’m sorry she dragged you into this.”

Green eyes widened in surprise.

“Weird things happen to you a lot, lady?” The same man at the bar asked.

Gabrielle shrugged. “I don’t know maybe just a little bit?” She brought her thumb and forefinger together. Without waiting for further comment, the writer grabbed the drinks and headed back upstairs, knowing it was time to get out of the spotlight. She took a big gulp out of each libation and tried to plant a smile on her face. They are either going to freak out or laugh in my face.

As she plopped back down next to the mechanic, Gabrielle placed the drinks on the table.

“What happened to the drinks?” The brunette asked.

“I swear I didn’t touch her!”

Tara froze for the second time that night. “Wha-what?”

“I didn’t touch her. She came after me. I moved out of the way and she fell and hit her head. There are witnesses. Practically everyone downstairs can testify to it!” Green eyes were wide and somewhat frantic.

Shannon looked at Jake then they both turned toward the writer.

“Whoa, Red,” Jake murmured.

Shannon snorted.

Jake sniffed and pressed trembling lips together.

“Does she still have hair?” Tara inquired, feeling the mirth latch onto her as well.

Shannon’s snort turned into a loud, hiccupping laugh.

“I never knew…” Tara paused to catch her breath. “…that you were so butch, Red.”

The table howled.

“This is serious! I knew you guys were going to do this!”

Jake laid his head down on the table as his body shook. “We…can’t take you anywhere.”

Gabrielle threw up her hands. “Fine!”

Tara wrapped an arm around the blond and continued to chuckle in her ear. “I’m glad you’re okay. If she had touched you, I’d rip her hair out of her head. But-” Tara’s chuckles turned back into hearty laughs. “You know it’s funny. You know it is. Think about it.”

The writer sighed in mock exasperation. A slow smirk stole over her features. “Yeah, yeah.” She rolled her eyes. “I don’t think the night could get anymore–”

“Don’t say it!” Jake and Shannon exclaimed almost simultaneously.

“Sor-ry, but really, what could happen?”

Both men groaned.

****

The crowd continued to hoot and clap as the queens took their final bow.

Gabrielle shook with laughter and the expression on the mechanic’s face did not help matters any. It was a cross between disgust, chagrin, and disbelief. The blond hooked her arm around her lover’s. “Come on. You know it’s funny. You know it is. Think about it.”

Blue eyes squinted. “Uh huh, next time I’ll tell Jamie to dry hump your leg.” Tara cringed. “I feel so dirty.”

Jake muttered between guffaws. “Maybe he thought you were me, in drag.”

The table erupted again.

“Oh come on, T. We had a good time considering all the drama,” the writer added when they had all calmed down.

“Oh, I know. Gotta love snow days.”

They watched as most of the patrons got up to leave.

“I’m gonna get out of here too guys,” Shannon muttered as he yawned. “I’ll be over for breakfast more than likely. So please everyone be dressed.” He looked pointedly at Tara. “Thanks for tonight I needed it.” He nudged the taller man’s shoulder. “You want a ride back to your place? Let’s leave these two alone.”

“I’m coming.” Jake got up and pointed at his sister. “But I’m sleeping in your bed. It’s much more comfortable.”

“Fine as long as that’s all you do in it.” She looked from Shannon to Jake.

“Eww, never happen. Not my type.”

“You got that right,” Jake added.

****

Gabrielle pulled slowly into her driveway. She glanced at her lover, thinking her asleep. Blue eyes smiled at her. “I thought you were sleeping. You were so quiet.”

“Na, I was just watching you.”

The writer smiled as she turned off the ignition. “Mmm hmm.”

“I know it seems like ages ago now, but what does this night feel like to you?”

“What do you mean? I know it’s a starting over point for us–”

“No, I think we’re where we wanna be. It kinda feels to me like we’ve come full circle or something.”

“Ah, I see. I think I understand.” The blonde paused. “Remember being in this car the first time?”

Tara’s grin was slow and sexy. “How could I forget.”

“It has been a total 360.” Gabrielle restarted the car.

“Yes, it has. What are you doing?”

“We need some heat. I don’t think we generate THAT much between us.”

“You are bad.”

“I know. You’ve rubbed off on me.”

“I almost didn’t come that night we met. Jake begged me and I gave in. God, I’m glad I did.”

“Me too. I don’t think you have any idea. You changed my life that night in more ways than one.”

Their gazes met. Silence lapsed between them and the air hummed with electricity. Without a word, without pause, and in an almost perfect simulation of a time that seemed like eons ago, Tara reached for her lover pulling her into her lap. Lips met with moist certainty, reveling in the moment and in the memories. Hands followed the same path and whispered moans filled the car. Ignoring the cold and the ice reforming around them, they became lost in each other.

 

 

The End

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