Joanna was sitting down on the couch in her TV room; her reading glasses perched up on her nose and a book in her hands. Next to her was Molly, her 13 year-old daughter, listening to some heavy metal CD at full blast on her headphones. She was shaking her head vigorously and being a regular odd teenager.
The clock hanging on the wall chimed sixteen times, showing it was already 4pm. Joanna looked at the clock, at her daughter and back to her book, however her mind was not on the words printed on the paper. She could still remember a long gone time when the fireplace would be lit and Christmas Carols would be playing around the house, a time when Caroline was still alive.
The front door bell rang and by the time Joanna came out of her daydreaming Molly was already at the door.
“Grandma!!!!” the teenager shouted excitedly.
“Hello there, my doll! Oh goodness you’ve grown! Every time I see you, you’re taller and taller, one of these days your mother will have to redo the roof of this house just so you’ll fit it…” the older lady with snow white hair and fine clothes said taking her granddaughter in her arms.
“Grandma, don’t be silly… come on in, mom is in the TV room” Molly said dragging her grandma’s suitcase inside. “Gran, what did you bring in here??? A dead body? Gees, it’s heavy…”
“Yes, darling, I had to kill the taxi driver because he had no change” the older woman replied laughing lightly while she made her way into the house.
Joanna got up from the couch, stretched her clothes out and took a deep breath. Having her mother-in-law for the Holidays was always painful for her, the Holidays were always painful, life was painful. She braced herself to face Susan and all the memories her British accent and her manners always brought up. She heard Susan approaching the room and took another calming breath. ‘Here we go…’
“Joanna, my darling.” Susan said taking the 5’4″ blonde in her arms and squeezing her tightly.
“Hello Susan. It’s been a long time…” Joanna replied trying desperately to contain the tears that were threatening to spill out of her sad green eyes.
“Let me take a good look at you. Oh, Joanna, darling, you’re so skinny. You look like a skeleton, it’s a good thing I’m here, that way I can fix you some good English food and put something other than bones into that body.” Susan said spinning Joanna around.
“Susan, I’m just fine. I’ve been working too much, that’s all” Joanna said trying to convince the older woman.
“Working is the right word, grandma. She’s been working so much I hardly ever see her. This place looks like a haunted house, no one ever comes here, other than my friends that is…” Molly said with her hands in her hips.
“Is that true Joanna? Are you secluding yourself from the world again?” Susan asked in a serious motherly tone.
“Molly??? What did you and I talk about before your grandmother got here?” Joanna asked in a threatening tone.
“But mom, it’s the truth. You don’t go out, you don’t see anyone, you don’t have any friends, all you do is work, read and cry” Molly kept on going, directing her words more at her grandmother than at Joanna.
“Molly??? That’s enough,” Joanna said in a harsh tone.
“Molly is that true?” Susan asked getting more concerned by the minute.
“Yes, gran. It’s like she lives in her own world. No one is allowed inside, not even me, only mommy” Molly finished her sentence with a sad look in her eyes.
“MOLLY!! THAT’S IT. GO TO YOUR ROOM, NOW… YOU’RE GROUNDED.” Joanna felt her patience slipping away from her.
“Yes, mother, I’m grounded… AGAIN!” Molly said stumping out of the room.
“AND MAKE THAT FOR LIFE, YOUNG LADY” Joanna raised her voice once more so her daughter could hear her.
“AND THAT’S NEWS????” Molly shouted back just before slamming the door to her bedroom shut.
Susan was appalled by the scene playing before her eyes, obviously things had deteriorated after her last visit, two years before. She could see that Joanna was shaking and decided this was not a good time to confront her daughter-in-law.
“Joanna, darling, why don’t we go into the kitchen and I’ll make us some tea?” Susan said offering her hand to the short blonde in front of her.
They sat by the kitchen table sipping their tea quietly, both lost in their own thoughts. Susan did not know how to approach the subject and decided that honesty was the best choice.
“How are you, Joanna? I mean, really, inside” she asked.
“As I said before, Susan, I’m just fine” Joanna lied once more.
“Who are you trying to convince, child, this old lady or yourself?” Susan insisted.
“Susan, please let it go…” Joanna pleaded, her eyes stinging with hot tears again.
“Maybe you are the one who should let it go, Joanna. Let HER go.”
“Susan, don’t you say that…” Joanna said while the tears ran freely down her cheeks.
“Joanna, I love Caroline also, very much. There is not a day that goes by that I do not miss her, her joy, her laughter… but she is no longer here. You have to let her go, Joanna. Caroline would not approve of you living like this; it has been seven bloody years now, for Christ’s sake. Move on, child. You’re in love with a ghost” Susan said trying to put some sense into Joanna’s head.
“Noooo…” Joanna cried “Oh, Susan, it hurts, it hurts so much…” the blonde said between sobs.
“I know, darling, I know…” Susan comforted her taking her into an embrace, while she saw Molly sitting at the staircase watching her mother with wet eyes.
“Why? Why did she leave me? Why did she leave us? We all needed her here, Susan. I needed her here… my life is over” Joanna cried harder.
“Joanna, good Lord, darling… your life is not over, you have Molly. She needs you Joanna. Can’t you see your daughter needs you? She’s only a child, Joanna. She’s lost and scared, just like you are, but you two have each other and you are both alive. Caroline is not here anymore, but Molly is…” Susan said while tears rolled down her face also.
Joanna felt Susan’s words penetrating her mind, her heart and her soul. Fear and regret making her sob harder while she replayed the years after Caroline’s death. She had indeed shut Molly out of her life, barely caring for the kid.
“Oh God, Susan, I did ignore my own child… how can she forgive me? Oh God…” Joanna said crying harder.
Molly heard her mother’s despair and ran into the kitchen hugging Joanna tightly and crying also.
“Oh Molly, my pumpkin, I am so sorry!”
“It’s okay, mom… it’s okay” Molly sobbed.
“I love you, Molly!” Joanna whispered while she kissed her daughter’s head.
“I love you too, mom” Molly replied.
Joanna looked up to Susan and mouthed a thank you. Susan simply nodded as she thought ‘Thank you Lord, for sending me here.’
The next morning Joanna woke up early and left before either Molly or Susan were up. She parked her Lexus near the place where Caroline had been buried, an old graveyard near Fort McHenry, in south Baltimore. She collected her thoughts; her courage and the flowers she had brought and walked through a well-known path she had walked everyday for seven years now. Caroline loved this part of town and she always joked saying she wanted to be buried around the area, so she could overlook the bay where her British compatriots lost the Battle of Baltimore to her American neighbors.
Joanna sat down on the same spot she always did and looked at the mute tombstone. “Hello, darling…” she whispered “Your mother arrived yesterday. She looks the same, it’s amazing how she doesn’t seem to age, you know?” Joanna said with a light chuckle.
“I brought you fresh flowers, orange ones, your favorite color…” she let the wind take her words, “Sweetie, I won’t be coming here much often anymore, I hope you forgive me. Molly is growing and she needs me… Honestly, I think I need her more than she needs me, but it’s good for my ego to pretend it’s the other way around” she laughed lightly.
“Your mother showed me that I haven’t been a good mother and she’s right. I need to focus more on my life now, sweetie. I love you and always will, but I can’t continue like this…” she stood up with tear stained cheek, her heart aching so much she thought she would faint from it. Joanna kissed the tips of her fingers and placed them on the cold, black marble stone.
The cold December wind blowing across her face was the only reply she got.
By the time Joanna got home Molly and Susan were up and getting in trouble. She opened the kitchen door to find both her daughter and mother-in-law dressed in cook costumes with a guilty look on their face.
“Well, good morning to you two… and may I ask what kind of trouble are you getting yourself into?” Joanna inquired.
Both cooks looked busted and started laughing hard.
“Pardon, madame… nous ne parle pas anglais” Molly said with a phony French accent.
“Exactement!” Susan completed.
“Right… you don’t speak English anymore, ok! I can live with that. But what’s up with the hats?” Joanna asked intrigued.
“Mommmm… we’re French cooks, can’t you see?” Molly said pointing to their attire.
“Ohhh, but of course. And what treats are my French cooks cooking for me?” Joanna teased.
“A good, English, home made, apple pie. Will you pass me the apples, please?” Susan said with a grin on her face.
Joanna busted out laughing, “Why are French cooks cooking English pies?”
Susan gave an evil look, “You try to make those petit fours the French cook… now stop talking and help us here, we have to make several of these for Molly’s party.”
“Molly’s party? What party?” Joanna asked wide-eyed.
“My ‘evil hunter group’ party mom. I told you about it a month ago” Molly said getting a bit nervous.
“Evil hunter group? Oh… you mean your friends who think they chase vampires?” Joanna asked as she popped a Hershey’s Christmas chocolate kiss in her mouth.
“Mommmm, we don’t THINK we chase vampires, we do, okay? We hunt evil creatures… gosh, how hard is it?” Molly said losing her patience.
“Ok, ok… but don’t you think a Halloween kind-of party is a bit odd when we’re only a week away from Christmas?” Joanna asked getting curious about what exactly her daughter had in mind.
“Well, your mother has a point Molly.” Susan added, much to Joanna’s relief.
“But that’s the whole point, we will use the good energy of Christmas to boost up our hunting power…”Molly said spreading her hands in the air.
‘I have a really weird daughter…’ Joanna thought. “Of course, and how many of these powerful hunter kids are we talking about here?”
Molly furrowed her brows in deep thought as Joanna gave a wide eye stare to Susan, who only shook her shoulders in response.
“Well, there’s Michelle, Kim C., Kim S., Kim T., Clark, Daniel, Ashley M., Ashley B. and Simon. Only nine, mom” Molly answered with a smile.
“Only nine?? And what time are we expecting them, hun?” Joanna asked afraid of the answer.
“Oh, they should get here around five, I’ve already decorated the attic and everyone is bringing their sleeping bag so we don’t have to worry about that” Molly finished to a very concerned Joanna and a giggly Susan.
“Great, they’re sleeping over… how much fun!” Joanna said getting up from the stool near the counter and slipping an apron on. “Okay, since we’ll have nine hungry evil hunters over, we better get started on cooking…” Joanna finished feeling tired already.
“Oui…” was Susan and Molly’s reply.
Joanna could not help but to giggle, ‘Well, maybe it won’t be so bad…’
They worked practically all afternoon cooking for the evil monsters as Joanna fondly started calling Molly’s friends. It was a little after 4:00pm when they shooed Molly out of the kitchen to get ready.
As she was leaving she said, “Mom, Gran, could you take the food upstairs and set it in the tables I left there? We want it to absorb the energies of our work before we eat it. And Gran, don’t forget the to put the dry ice in the cooler with the sodas…”
Joanna gave Susan a confused look, “Do I dare ask what she needs dry ice for?”
“To make their drinks look cool, was what she said” Susan answered with a smirk.
They went upstairs to the attic carrying trays of sandwiches, the apple pies, the cooler and a basket of other important items, as Molly had put it. As they entered the attic Joanna had to suppress a laugh at what her daughter considered appropriate evil hunting party decoration.
There were fake cobwebs strung in one of the corners, black and purple balloons, and bats hanging from the ceiling to complete the dark look.
“Susan, is she trying to scare her guests?” Joanna said laughing so hard she could barely breath. “I hope they all have drivers’ licenses, since it looks like they’ll be flying around” she finished pointing to a broomstick half hidden by the balloons.
Susan looked around at the attic and busted out laughing. “Oh Lord, this is so funny. But I believe she tried to set a battle between good and evil” she said pointing to the opposite side.
Molly had placed white puffs looking like clouds and little angels hanging from the rafters. On the floor she had white scented candles and cushions.
“It sure looks so…”Joanna replied as the front doorbell rang, “I’ll get that.”
To her surprise all nine evil monsters were standing at her doorstep with a tall attractive brunette behind them.
“Hello, come in. Molly will be down in a second…” Joanna motioned them inside the house.
“Hey guys!!! Come on upstairs, you’re gonna love this…” Molly said from the top of stairs.
“Cool, Molly… I brought the lamp we talked about” one of the girls said as all ten kids ran upstairs towards the attic.
“Hi, I’m Joanna, Molly’s mother” Joanna extended her hand to the dark woman standing near her.
“Nice to meet you, I’m Rachel, Michelle’s mother” the brunette took Joanna’s hand in hers and shook it.
A slight chill went up and down Joanna’s body, but she quickly dismissed the feeling. They heard loud wows and cools coming from upstairs and both giggled at the excitement of the kids.
“I’d say Molly did a super job upstairs. Seems like they’re going to have a good time” Rachel said.
“Well, if you consider a mixture of the Mexican Day of the Dead, Halloween and the Sistine Chapel appropriate for an evil hunting party, then yeah she did a super job. Maybe I should get them a piñata to complete the look” Joanna said still giggling.
“Oh God, what a visual… I can only imagine what Molly came up with…” Rachel replied laughing harder.
“Would you like to sit down and have something to drink?” Joanna offered feeling a strange tightness in her throat as Rachel turned to her and locked her gaze with a deep blue look.
“That would be nice, thank you, but I think we should get the kids’ stuff out of the van first, what do you say?” Rachel suggested.
Joanna was still a bit tongue-tied but she managed to answer “Sure. Let’s call them down to help us.”
They all went outside and retrieved the backpacks and sleeping bags from Rachel’s van. As they stepped back inside, away from the biting cold Joanna asked Rachel, “How come you got to bring them all?”
“We rotate, each group meeting or when they want to go to the mall or movies, one of the parents is responsible for pick-up and delivery. That way we don’t have to do it every time” Rachel responded taking a seat at one of the stools in the kitchen while Joanna made them tea.
“Ohhh, I wonder why Molly never asked me to take them…” Joanna said thoughtfully.
“Molly said you work a lot and if the other parents didn’t mind she would ask you only when no one else was available, I guess that never happened” Rachel explained.
Sadness washed over Joanna, she knew why Molly hadn’t asked. It wasn’t because of her work. It was because Joanna was never there emotionally. Her thoughts were cut short by Susan entering the kitchen laughing and talking about the kids “Oh, Joanna, it is just wonderful to be that age, they are so…” she stopped when she noticed a brunette with piercing blue eyes sitting by the counter.
“Oh, I’m sorry, darling, I did not know you had company” Susan excused herself.
“Susan this is Rachel, Michelle’s mother. She brought the kids over” Joanna started “And Rachel this is Susan, my mother-in-law.”
They shook hands and Susan did not miss the sad surprise in Rachel’s eyes as she heard the words ‘mother-in-law’.
“Ex mother-in-law… but I still show up every once in a while to try and put some sense into Joanna’s hard head” Susan said giving Joanna a scolding look.
Rachel laughed at their exchange before adding her point of view on the situation “I know how those things are, I still keep contact with my ex’s parents. Michelle enjoys it and so do I, we’ve become good friends over the years.”
“Well, Joanna and I still do not like each other” Susan joked as she hugged Joanna “after all she stole my precious baby from England.” Joanna simply rolled her eyes as Rachel laughed harder at Susan’s choice of words.
“And where is your son now, Susan?” Rachel inquired testing the waters.
“My daughter, Caroline, was married to Joanna for beautiful 10 years and they gave me my adorable Molly, but unfortunately Caroline passed away 7 years ago” Susan stated.
Rachel was dumbstruck by Susan’s reply and really embarrassed by her indiscretion “I am very sorry, I had no idea. Michelle never commented on Molly’s parents and I simply assumed…” Rachel was cut off by a cheery Susan.
“Oh my dear, don’t worry about it. It’s okay, those things happen and you had no way of knowing” Susan ensured her.
Joanna had stiffened a bit and Rachel could see the tense lines in her face clearly showing now. ‘Way to go Rachel… there were other ways of knowing if she was gay, but noooo, you had to screw it. IDIOT!’ Rachel’s mind screamed.
“Well, I believe the kids are all settled and I really should stop bothering you and head home. Thanks for tea.” Rachel said standing up and making her way to the door.
“Oh darling, don’t go. We were just getting acquainted” Susan said in an effort to stop Rachel from her mad dash.
“Susan, I’m sure Rachel is a busy woman. We wouldn’t want to keep her from her other appointments” Joanna said in a harsh tone.
“Joanna is right, I do have another appointment I’m due at in half an hour. Thanks again for tea and I’ll see you soon.” Rachel said as she put her coat back on and went to the door.
Susan was not pleased with how things had turned out. She had been thrilled when she found Rachel in the kitchen chatting with Joanna, her daughter-in-law seemed more relaxed than she had been in a long time, and Susan believed Joanna was actually interested in Rachel, which could be taken as a miracle. And now this. Rachel running out the door and Joanna with a hurt expression that was clear even to a blind person. ‘It would be too easy. But that is fine, I can fix this little misunderstanding and maybe help them get to know each other better.’
“Well, I guess you should go then my darling. We wouldn’t want you to be late. It was a pleasure meeting you, I hope to see you again soon, Rachel” Susan said.
“Pleasure was all mine, Susan. Nice meeting you too, Joanna. Have a nice evening” and with that she was out the door facing the cold wind and the light falling snow.
The next morning a short burly man came to pick up the kids. Lauren’s father was very nice, but not nearly as interesting as the tall driver from the previous day was. Joanna found herself wanting to see Rachel again, mostly to apologize for her attitude but also because there was something about the tall brunette that caught her attention in more ways than one.
She was a bit annoyed at how much her time with Rachel had shaken her. Yes, she was upset with the brunette’s indiscretion and also with Susan’s way of conveying to Rachel that she was gay, but at the same time deep down she knew she had crossed the line of indiscretion before in order to make sure her gaydar was not off track. What was annoying her most though was the feeling of being upset because Rachel had left so fast, she was enjoying her time with the tall woman and was hardly ready to end it so soon. ‘Admit it Joanna, she was the first person who reminded you, you have a pulse in a long time.’
Three days passed and Rachel would flash through Joanna’s thoughts every now and then. After Rachel’s escape the day they met, neither Susan nor Joanna mentioned the striking tall brunette, however Joanna knew Susan enough to be sure her mother-in-law was planning something. The answer to her wondering came that afternoon.
Joanna was working on her latest book, her editor having sent the revised draft back to her that morning and asking her to give it some special attention since they wanted to publish it and have it in the stores for Valentine’s day. She had been so caught up with her reading she barely noticed Susan and Molly entering her office.
“A-hem…” Susan cleared her throat to get Joanna’s attention.
Joanna turned her chair around and found the two standing there with a look of the cat who ate the bird in their faces.
“Do I dare ask what you two did this time?” Joanna inquired.
“Uhh… nothing, mom. Gees why do you think gran and I are always getting in trouble?” Molly asked sporting her best innocent look.
“Because you always are, hun” Joanna said raising an eyebrow at the duet.
“Well, not this time, darling. We were simply wondering if you wouldn’t be willing to leave that book of yours alone and take sweet Molly to the cinema this afternoon?” Susan said.
“Ok. That sounds like a plan. What time is the movie, pumpkin?” Joanna asked Molly amazed that this time they really hadn’t done anything. ‘Maybe I’m getting too paranoid.’
“Awesome mom!!!! It’s at 3:00. I’m going to call Michelle and tell her we’re in and we’ll meet there.” Molly said jumping out of the room with excitement.
Joanna gave Susan a knowing look while she said “And here I thought you had changed. Hun, I don’t need you to fix me up, you know? I am perfectly capable of getting a date.”
“Oh my… what are you accusing me of now? I would never fix you up with a teenager, Joanna…” Susan replied in a mortified tone.
“Right. And you’re trying to tell me that Rachel won’t be there…” Joanna went on not buying her mother-in-law’s act.
“How would I know? I believe you will have to find that out on your own, young lady” the older woman pretended being upset until her curiosity got the best of her “Why? Would you like to see her again?”
Joanna rolled her eyes and giggled. “You’re incorrigible…” she said shutting down her computer before she left and went upstairs to change into more presentable clothing.
The lines at the movie theater were gigantic. It had been so long since Joanna had last been to a movie during the holidays she was amazed at how many people actually had the courage to even try it. She was surveying the crowd near her, amused to see that mostly it was composed of teenagers full of pimples and desperate parents trying to contain the younger kids, when a tall figure caught her eye ‘Susan, hun, you are indeed incorrigible.’
Rachel was dressed casually in a black wool sweater with a white shirt underneath and faded jeans, complemented by a pair of black leather biker boots. Her hair was set lose and she had a bit of gloss applied to her lips. ‘Okay… now all I need to do is stop staring at her like some horny 15 year-old boy and it should be fine. Damn, she looks good!’
Michelle saw Molly and dragged Rachel by the hand to their place in line.
“Hi Molly! Hello Mrs. Robinson” Michelle greeted them.
“Hello Michelle. Hello Rachel!” Joanna said in a tone more excited than she wanted to show.
“Hi Mrs. Carlson” Molly said and instantly turned her attention to her best friend, “Michelle, there’s this really cool new movie playing in half an hour…”
Rachel looked at the two teenagers and laughed lightly before she looked up to meet emerald green eyes that seemed to be glowing, “Hi there Joanna” she said extending a hand.
“It’s good to see you again, Rachel. I missed you the morning after the party…” Joanna conveyed her true feelings, but tried to sound casual about it.
“Well, something came up and I couldn’t make it, but Bob picked them up all right, didn’t he?” Rachel inquired worried.
“Oh, yes… he came and got them without a problem. It’s just that I was expecting to see you and apologize for my behavior. I wasn’t exactly polite” Joanna said eyeing her shoes with an intense interest.
Rachel found the whole scene cute, especially it’s starring character. ‘You can be enchanting Joanna Robinson, just enchanting… and if I’m lucky you won’t know that and break my heart.’ Rachel thought remembering some bad past experiences.
“It’s ok, I wasn’t exactly polite either nosing into your personal life like that” she gave Joanna a shy smile, “How about we call it even and forget about it?” Rachel suggested.
“Sounds great to me, but only if we get to see a good movie. From what these two are talking here we may end up stuck on the Powerpuff Girls, whomever those are…” Joanna looked at the two excited teenagers who couldn’t make up their mind.
In the end compromising sounded like a good idea to all of them. The girls, went to see a new release with a super star they drooled over, while the adults picked a suspense type of movie.
Rachel went to get popcorn, while Joanna saved them seats. Joanna was so nervous she had a hard time choosing seats. ‘Jesus, just sit down, Joanna. You’re acting like you’re on a first date…’ she thought smiling to herself ‘BUT YOU’RE NOT!’ she smacked herself mentally and sat down on the seat in front of her.
Rachel walked into the theater and searched a little until she found a blonde figure lost in thought and apparently talking to herself. ‘Nice choice of seats’ the brunette thought smiling as she made her way to the last row to the right of the theater, all seats near them empty.
“I do that too” Rachel said as she sat down.
“Do what?” Joanna inquired curiously.
“Talk to myself” Rachel replied laughing.
“Ohhh…” Joanna blushed so much her ears turned pink. To her relief at that moment the lights went off and they started playing movie previews.
The movie they were watching was a regular suspense, with all the known tricks one would expect to be there. Rachel was enjoying herself and she would laugh every now and then at the obviousness of the movie. Joanna on the other hand, would jump at all the cliché scary scenes.
After seeing Joanna jump once more, Rachel decided it was time to comfort her friend a little. ‘Great excuse too’ she though smiling to herself. She moved closer to Joanna and held her hand feeling their fingers instantly entwine. Joanna felt her heart stop by the soft but confident touch on her hand. She looked up to see bright blue eyes glistening back at her through the darkness of the room and a tiny smile formed on her lips.
Rachel moved her head closer and whispered in the blonde’s ear “I guess you don’t watch this kind of movies very often, huh?”
Joanna turned to reply, but their lips brushed lightly because of their head motion. It was Rachel’s turn to jump startled, her heart beating faster and her breathing ragged from the light touch. Joanna who was also caught by surprise pretended it didn’t happen and continued towards Rachel ear.
“No, I don’t. Why? Is there a pattern to it?” Joanna whispered back, trying to keep her thoughts focused on the movie and away from Rachel’s earlobe close by. ‘Gosh, she smells good…’
Rachel took a deep breath trying to ease the pulsing reaction of her body to Joanna’s touch, “Yes, there is. Look, see how they’re focusing on the closet?” Rachel pointed, to what Joanna only nodded. “Well, nobody will be there… the bad guy is always behind them…” Rachel finished feeling Joanna’s grip on her hand tightening as the scene progressed and the background music made everyone in the theater tense with expectation. As Rachel had said, the closet was empty and the killer was behind the good guy. Still Joanna jumped startled. Rachel started laughing at her friend’s scare when she got pinched in the arm by an angry short blonde.
“Hey, that was not nice” Rachel complained.
“Oh, poor baby. You laughing at me was not nice either. So there!” Joanna finished with an evil grin plastered on her face.
“Oh yeah?? Wait until I’m done with you” Rachel shot back, trying to free her hands from Joanna’s grip.
“SHHHHH…” someone shouted them to silence.
“Oops…” Rachel said as they both giggled.
Joanna and Molly got home to find Susan shouting, “You bloody bastard!”
Joanna ran into the room scared with who could possibly be drawing this kind of attitude from her mother-in-law. She stopped dead in her tracks when she spotted Susan standing up pointing a finger at the television. Molly walked in and realized her grandmother was having another one of her arguments with the television.
“Hun, you have to stop doing that. Someday people will send you to the loony house for it.” Joanna warned the older woman while she smiled at Molly, who was spinning her fingers around her ears in a craziness sign.
Susan turned the device off and looked back at Joanna with a ‘guilty as charged’ expression, “I supposed you are correct, Joanna. But let’s not think about this embarrassing moment. How was the movies?” she inquired, her curiosity peeking up to full speed.
Joanna rolled her eyes and smiled at the older woman who was giving her, her total attention. “It was very nice, thank you. And before you ask, yes, Rachel was there and yes, we had a wonderful time together” Joanna finished feeling a warmth enveloping her as she remembered how much fun she had with Rachel.
“Oh, how wonderful. Then I can invite her to have Christmas lunch with us.” Susan said excited.
“Wow. Hold on, Susan. We went to the movies once, and it was not a date. Stop those plans I know are cooking up in your head” Joanna said amazed at how fast things were moving.
“But mommmm…” Molly intervened.
Before she was allowed to continue, Joanna cut her off “Ohh, so you’re into this also. Molly, I can’t believe you, you’re setting your own mother up with your best friend’s mother. Oh, my God, this is all too modern for me…”
“Mom, give us a break, ok? It’s not like we all don’t know you’re gay, including Mrs. Carlson, who ALSO happens to be gay. What’s so bad about it? I’d love to have Michelle as my sister and she would like that too. Besides we already did all the division of chores and we redesigned our bedrooms for when they move in. We decided it would be best if they moved here, because we have more room and it’s closer to Mrs. Carlson’s work and to school too. See? It will work out just perfect, mom…” Molly finished telling a dumbstruck Joanna her plans.
Joanna sat down, her jaw hanging opened at Molly’s display of her future. She took her time and recollected herself from the shock before she could make coherent sounds, “Mo… Molly… uhh, does Rachel know about all this?” Joanna asked afraid of the answer.
“Not yet. We planned on showing you the new blueprint for the house we drew during Christmas lunch” Molly smiled at her mother, content to see she hadn’t said no, yet.
Joanna stood up and started walking out of the room, followed by a grinning Molly and a suspicious Susan. “Joanna, darling, where are you going?” Susan inquired.
“To bed. Maybe if I lay down, I’ll wake up and find out all this was just a bad joke” the short woman replied going up the stairs.
“Mommm…” Molly complained.
“Shh, Molly. Let her be, she has to get used to the idea of being with someone else other than your mommy” Susan said pulling her granddaughter by the shirt and kissing her lightly on the forehead.
Christmas came and despite Molly’s insistence Susan did not invite Rachel and Michelle over. They sat at the table after going through Molly’s loot of presents savoring lunch. Joanna got over her initial shock and actually gave the idea of having a serious relationship with Rachel some thought. All in all she liked the prospects of it, her only problem was not knowing what Rachel thought of it and her own cowardliness. She couldn’t even call the woman and ask her out, God knew she had tried several times in the past few days.
They sat there after lunch chatting and listening to Molly’s stories, when the doorbell rang. Joanna excused herself and went to see who could it be there at that time. She was surprised, but mostly happy to find Rachel standing there hand in hand with Michelle.
She opened the door to find the bluest eyes she had ever seen staring back at her with a crooked smile.
“Hi, come on in.” Joanna motioned mother and daughter inside.
“Hello, Mrs. Robinson. Merry Christmas!” Michelle said extending a small wrapped box to Joanna.
The blonde took the box and gave Michelle a heartfelt hug, “Thank you sweetie. I’ve got you something too. It’s under the tree.”
Michelle’s eyes lit up, “Really??”
Joanna nodded taken by the blue eyes that were a carbon copy of the taller woman’s standing near her.
“Cool! Thanks, Mrs. Robinson. Is Molly home?” the youngster asked.
“Yes, hun, she’s in the kitchen with her grandma. Go on… you know the way.”
Michelle left leaving the two women standing by the door, looking at each other. Joanna gathered her courage and spoke first, “I’ve been thinking about calling you…”
Rachel smiled at the confession and replied, “Me too. Sorry to just pop up here, but Michelle insisted we brought your gifts over” she said pointing to the box.
“Well, thanks. We have something for you too. Why don’t we all go in the TV room and open our presents together?” Joanna suggested taking Rachel by the hand and going into the kitchen.
The two walked into the kitchen holding hands to find three pairs of mischievous eyes looking back at them. They glanced at one another trying to understand what was going on when the light bulb went off. They let go of hands quickly and both blushed to the roots of their hairline. Susan decided to intervene and save the two women from further embarrassment, for the moment.
“Hello, Rachel. It’s good to see you again.” Susan said crossing the kitchen towards a shy Rachel who still had not recovered from being busted holding hands with Joanna.
“Hi Susan. It’s good to see you too” Rachel replied hugging Susan back.
“Michelle was telling Molly and I about your little overheating problem” Susan continued their conversation, not realizing her comment made both Rachel and Joanna blush all over again.
“Pardon me?” Rachel gasped out.
“Yes, the problem with the furnace in your house. I hear you’re having a rather tropical Christmas” Susan finished while the two teenagers giggled at their mothers’ behavior.
“Oh, that’s right. Yes, our heating system is not working right. Michelle and I have been running around in shorts all week. I tried calling a technician to take a look at it, but no one was available” Rachel said, relieved that it was that overheating problem they were talking about and not the overheating she was experiencing inside her pants whenever she looked at Joanna.
“Isn’t that a coincidence? Joanna used to work with air conditioners and heaters before she became a full time writer, isn’t that correct Joanna?” Susan looked over to where the blonde was fumbling with the small box in her hands.
“Uhh, yes, that’s correct, Susan.” Joanna replied a bit uncertain to where exactly her mother-in-law was going with this conversation.
“So, I say we finish with our gifts in the other room and I shall keep these two monsters over here entertained while you ladies go over to Rachel’s house and take a good, thorough look at Rachel’s heating problem” Susan finished in a wicked tone.
“SUSAN!!!” Joanna replied while Molly and Michelle high-fived each other and Rachel buried her face in her hands.
They arrived at Rachel’s house with an odd silence hanging over their heads. As they stepped out of the car into the biting cold Joanna decided to break the ice and get Rachel a little less uncomfortable around her.
“I’m sorry about Susan. Sometimes she’s a bit too outspoken even for me” Joanna said trying to make Rachel relax.
“Yeah. She did make me a bit embarrassed in there…” Rachel admitted.
“A bit? Are you joking? Rachel, you were like a good looking Red Lobster ad…” Joanna said giggling.
Rachel smiled at Joanna’s choice of words, glad her shorter friend had given her a perfect opportunity to make them both shy ‘At least I won’t be the only one getting red…’ she thought before she spoke.
“Well, at least I’m good looking. Thanks, I’m flattered!” Rachel said with a wicked spark in her eyes.
Joanna was caught flatfooted not realizing the meaning her previous words conveyed. “Uhhh, you’re welcome” she stammered out.
Rachel opened the front door and both women were hit by a warm puff that reminded Joanna of a sauna.
“Wow. I’d say you have a serious problem with your heating system. I better take a look at it before it’s too late to try to repair it” Joanna said waiting for Rachel to show her where the furnace was.
They went down a flight of stairs into a small room that contained all the heating and air conditioning units. Joanna kneeled by the big rectangular furnace that seemed to be set to heat a 10-story building and not a small two-story house. She looked around the equipment and easily figured the problem out.
“See this gauge right here?” Joanna pointed to a black gauge on the right side of the furnace.
“Yes…” Rachel responded looking to the gauge not able to see what was wrong with it.
“Well, it’s set on 60 degrees, right? But it’s pretty easy to say it’s actually around 100 degrees upstairs, right?” Joanna inquired trying to lead Rachel to understand what the problem was.
“Right. So?” Rachel inquired still not able to follow Joanna’s line of thought.
“So, either the coil is broken and it’s not registering the changes you make on the gauge or the temperature sensor inside the furnace is faulty. Whichever will cause the furnace not to shut off automatically.” Joanna finished her explanation.
“Wow. And you know all that just by looking at it?” Rachel asked impressed with the short woman next to her.
“Well, let’s just pray I’m right. But usually this is what happens when you get overheating like the kind you have here.” Joanna finished her sentence as she tried to shut the furnace off.
She looked around and realized she had forgotten her toolbox inside Rachel’s car.
“Uhhh, Rachel? Do you mind getting my tool box for me while I start safety devices on this thing?” Joanna asked.
“Sure, I’ll be right back.” Rachel said before heading upstairs.
When Rachel came back she almost let the toolbox fall off her hand from the view before her eyes.
Joanna was sitting by the furnace, but she was now wearing only a tight tank that left little to Rachel’s imagination. The blonde’s small taut upper body was glistening with a thin layer of sweat, her short hair moist with the humidity from the room and her defined arms crossed over her chest as she waited for the toolbox.
Rachel handed Joanna the toolbox and started taking her sweater off, feeling very much overheated all of a sudden.
“Geez, it’s hot in here” the brunette said as the shorter woman shot her with a sexy grin.
“Very much so” Joanna replied before turning back to the furnace and starting to unscrew the outer shell of the metal equipment.
By the time Joanna was done fixing the furnace, both she and Rachel were hotter than before with sweat dripping from their foreheads.
“Well, I think I owe you a shower at least” Rachel said looking at her watch “and dinner…” the brunette completed.
“I’d appreciate the shower, I’m so hot I feel like I’d burn someone if they touched me” Joanna said gathering her tools.
‘Oh boy!!!’ was all Rachel could muster up in her brain.
They went upstairs and Rachel showed Joanna where her bedroom and bathroom was, while she went and got a towel for the blonde to dry herself with. She returned to her bedroom to find the bathroom door slightly opened and the sound of running water coming from inside.
Rachel knocked on the door with shaky legs and ragged breathing. ‘Yes, she’s in there naked and yes, you’d love to see it, but it’s not going to happen, so shush’ she reprimanded herself.
“Come in, Rachel, I’m almost done here” Joanna replied, her voice husky to Rachel’s ears.
The brunette walked into the bathroom and got upset with the fog that clouded the glass shower stall Joanna was in. “I’ll just leave the towel for you here on the counter” Rachel said turning to leave, afraid her voice would betray her and show how turned on she was by the sensual view of Joanna behind the fogged glass.
“I’m done, do you mind handing it to me?” Joanna said with a shaky voice. Her heart beating so fast she was afraid Rachel could hear it, but not being able to control her desire for the sexy woman just outside the shower stall.
Rachel took the few steps that separated her from the shower door afraid her knees would give out under her. She stopped in front of the stall and threw the towel over the edge of the glass. As she was turning to leave she felt a warm puff of air hit her in the back and a wet hand touching her shoulder.
“I thought you were going to shower also, why don’t you step inside?” Joanna whispered into Rachel’s ear making the hair on her neck stand on attention.
Rachel turned to find her eyes captured by sea green ones, darkened with desire. She stood there uncertain of what she should do, as she felt Joanna’s hands pulling her shirt up.
“Joanna, are you sure about this?” Rachel asked afraid she would not be able to stop once she stepped into the shower stall.
Joanna replied by taking Rachel’s shirt off and starting to unbutton her jeans.
“Oh Joanna… oh God, I want this so much.” Rachel moaned.
Joanna slid Rachel’s jeans and underwear down, while the brunette kicked her shoes off. They locked gazes and Joanna pulled Rachel under the water laughing as the brunette stumbled into the shower.
They began a slow sensual dance of bodies under the water, each exploring the other and feeling firm tantalizing flesh under their fingertips. All the while they maintained their gazes locked with a fierce intensity that made their eyes sparkle with passion. Rachel pulled Joanna closer wanting to feel more of her lover’s body as Joanna cupped her firm butt cheeks with both hands. They explored one another for quite sometime, neither daring to speak afraid of breaking their sweet moment of discovery.
Rachel drank in all of Joanna’s features, from the light that seemed to emanate from her eyes to the softness of her breasts. She was particularly attracted to the full luscious red lips that would open ever so often whenever Joanna let out a moan of pleasure. Rachel slowly captured the blonde’s lips in her own, drawing soft delicate trails with her tongue until Joanna opened her lips further inviting Rachel to explore the inside of her mouth.
Joanna had never felt so turned on by a simple kiss like that, however she had never felt a velvet tongue like Rachel’s either. Their kiss deepened and their moves grew bolder as they let their desire take over. The warm water falling down on their naked bodies only intensified the tingling on their skin.
It was all too much and Joanna felt she would explode right there and then, “Rachel, baby, please… I need you.”
Rachel let out a sensual low purr of pleasure and started kissing her way down Joanna’s fit body. She marked her path with nibbles and more daring licks, making Joanna hold onto her shoulders with a death grip as she played with her lover’s hardened pink nipples. She kept her trail down Joanna’s body kneeling by the soft moist curls of the blonde who was about to let go of all her pride and beg Rachel for more.
Rachel pinned Joanna’s back to the tile wall pulling her legs over her shoulders. She began licking and nibbling on the soft skin of Joanna’s inner thighs, making the blonde moan with anticipation. Her lips wandered near the wet folds of Joanna who could no longer restrain herself from feeling Rachel’s mouth on her.
“Rachel, please… stop torturing me…” Joanna begged pulling Rachel’s head towards her slick warm center. Rachel licked Joanna’s full sex length before she focused on the swollen clit that seemed to pulsate with desire. She flicked her tongue along the hard bud, slow at first and then with an urgent need.
Both women held on each other as Joanna felt a wave of pleasure crashing over her and taking her over the edge. She moaned louder and bucked her hips against Rachel’s mouth, who was devouring all of her. Rachel felt her lover quiver as she reached a long orgasm and pressed two fingers against Joanna’s center which poured with pleasure.
“Yes, yes… I want you inside me” Joanna pleaded feeling all self-control vanish from her body and giving into the most erotic moment of her life. She looked down to find a raven head buried between her legs, while powerful shoulders supported her in her trip to sex heaven. Rachel looked up and met green eyes darkened with desire, but which also told her of deep feelings hiding inside Joanna’s heart. Looking at blue eyes the color of precious safires Joanna let the orgasm take her over to unknown galaxies of pleasure as Rachel entered her.
The brunette waited until her lover’s sobbing body calmed down, then she slowly slid Joanna’s legs off her shoulders and raised to her full height to take the small blonde in her arms.
Joanna’s sobs slowly stopped as she caressed Rachel’s body.
“I think I’m the one who owns you a shower now” Joanna whispered in a nearby ear. She was rewarded by a chuckling tall body that still enveloped hers. She turned Rachel around leaving her bare back to the appreciation of her eyes as she began soaping the full length of the brunette’s body.
Rachel’s skin was tingling with the rough feel of the sponge and the soft touch of Joanna’s hand. Her already overheated body was trembling with desire when she felt Joanna’s mound touching her backside and riding her slowly.
Rachel gasped with the feel of Joanna’s curls brushing against her skin and the pressure of her lover’s hardened nipples against her back muscles.
“Oh God, Joanna… you’re driving me crazy” Rachel purred.
“My point exactly…” Joanna chuckled while her arms embraced Rachel’s tall body and her hands rest on the brunette’s breasts. She teased each nipple slowly, feeling Rachel tremble more with each stroke of her fingers.
Rachel not being able to contain her need for Joanna began bucking her backside against the blonde shamelessly. She held onto the wall for dear life as Joanna’s hand slipped down and began massaging Rachel’s hardened clit as she pumped two fingers inside the brunette’s dripping center.
“Ohhhhhh sweetie…” Rachel gasped as Joanna felt her lover’s walls closing in around her fingers with the pressure of an explosive orgasm.
They collapsed against the wall trembling with the energy of their lovemaking. Joanna turned Rachel around and kissed her lightly on lips.
Their moment was broken by the phone ringing loud in Rachel’s room.
“I’ll get that” the brunette said.
Joanna watched her lover rushing towards the bedroom and she mentally thanked whomever was up there looking down at her for the best Christmas present she could ever expect.
Rachel came back to the bathroom to find Joanna fully dressed combing her short disheveled hair. The brunette produced a long pout and puppy dog eyes which brought a genuine smile to Joanna’s face.
“What? I liked it better the other way, with less clothes and more skin showing” Rachel said as she enfolded the short blonde around her arms once more.
“Well, then I have just the right view in front of me” she replied motioning to the naked tall brunette.
“If you like what you’re looking at, then yes…” Rachel shot back with an evil grin on her lips.
“Oh, I do like. Very much!” Joanna said eyeing her taller companion as her hands began roaming around smooth skin.
“You better stop that, or we won’t go anywhere” Rachel said feeling her breathing catching up.
“And do we have any better place to be other than right here?” Joanna retorted making her moves more daring as her hands came closer to Rachel’s backside once more.
“Well, that was Susan on the phone, she said the kids were wondering if we were fixing the entire house or just the heating unit. They are expecting us for dinner, sweetie” Rachel finished in a husky tone.
Joanna stopped her roaming and looked up at crystal blue eyes that sparkled with affection, “I guess you should get dressed then…” she teased.
“Witch!” Rachel mumbled as she retrieved back into her room.
They locked the front door to Rachel’s house and made their way to the car entangled in each other’s arms.
“So, do you want to tell them right away or do you want to wait a little longer?” Rachel inquired as they stood next to the car doors.
“I’d say tell them, after all they already came up with the new blueprint to our house for when you move in” Joanna replied chuckling as she got into the car.
“WHAT???” Rachel shouted with shock.
Joanna laughed harder, remembering her own reaction to Molly and Michelle’s plan.
“Come on… Let’s go face those beasts!!!” Joanna smiled feeling true happiness for the first time in many years.