Second Chance at Forever by Lindsey

Second Chance at Forever
by Lindsey

Chapter 1.

Meeting at VICAP

 

 

The first thing I noticed about Xena were her eyes, they were the clearest shade of blue that I had ever seen. When I walked into her office that first day of September I don’t know exactly what I had been expecting, but it wasn’t the six feet of reserved woman I was met with.

I guess that I should explain a little bit about myself before I get too far into the story that has been my life for the past few months. My name is Gabrielle, Gabrielle Channon and I am a writer. I have published ten crime novels over the past decade. I am usually on the road researching, spending time with those who have investigated serial killings and crimes of passion. It is from these individuals that I derive my stories. After completing a satisfactory amount of research I retreat to my modest Georgetown apartment to write. It is through this process that I came to know Xena.

She was the lead investigator on a multi-jurisdictional serial rapist/homicide that had plagued the D.C. area about two years ago. She had worked in concert with her team for months at various crime scenes collecting evidence that would eventually convict a man by the name of Seth Wayne Dupree of six counts of rape and felony homicide.

I was allowed access to her by the Assistant Director of VICAP, the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program, a division of the FBI. I had petitioned him for an interview, but it seemed as though it wasn’t necessary as when we first met he put the name to my face and come to find out he was a big fan of my work.

How convenient for me as this put me on the fast track down to get first hand details from the lead investigator herself. The only condition being placed upon my visits was an autographed copy of my next book for the Assistant Director. I could handle that. So, with briefcase and legal pads in hand I took the elevator to the second floor in search of office B-12, the workplace dwelling of one Special Agent Xena Demakis.

Like I said earlier, when I finally found her and she looked up at me over the edge of a manila envelope I practically fell on my ass. Those eyes! Who knew that a woman who spent her days tucked away studying violent criminals could be so gorgeous? I was quite possibly staring when her melodic voice captured my attention.

“Can I help you?” She asked as she put down her file and gave me her full attention.

“Ah, I hope so. My name is Gabrielle Channon and I was told you were the one to talk to about the Dupree case.” I practically stuttered, very professional. “For a book I am writing.” I hastily added. ‘God Gab, get it together, it’s not as if you have never seen an attractive woman before.’ I berated myself.

“You’re the woman A.D. Thomas just phoned me about.” It wasn’t a question, more of a statement of fact.

“Yes, I write crime novels and I was hoping you could help me with some of the more technical investigative aspects of the case. You know the inside stuff.” I gave her my best conspiratorial smile.

“That information is need-to-know Miss Channon.” She pushed her chair back and rose to her full height. ‘Yikes, a tall one.’ I thought as I watched her maneuver her way around her desk before coming to rest against the front edge. She was easily six inches taller than my five foot four frame.

“Please, call me Gabrielle.” I gently asked; I hated being called by such a formal title. “I have been given full access. The case is closed, all appeals exhausted. Mr. Dupree is going to be executed for his crimes. The information is now a part of public record.” I stated, indicating that I had done my homework and was not about to be dismissed so quickly.

“What do you need?” She asked, crossing her arms in front of her chest in a classic defensive position. It was at this point that I realized two things, one, she wasn’t married for she wore only a silver Celtic band on her right middle finger and two, that she wasn’t going to be an easy one to sell, but by the way she was looking at me, discretely taking in the view from head to toe I was beginning to believe I was going to enjoy the challenge.

“Well, I was hoping for at least an hour each day for a couple of weeks.” She seemed to mull it over for a few seconds before replying.

“Ok, fine, but it will have to be after regular business hours. My plate is pretty full right now and I don’t really have any time before five each day.”

“Five is fine,” I nodded, “do you want me to meet you here?” I asked, pleased to have at least gotten an agreement to meet with me.

“That is probably the most convenient.”

“Great!” I enthused. “How about we start tomorrow; that will give me a little bit of time to gather my thoughts and compile a list of things I would like to talk about.” I hastily pulled out my day-planner and scribbled in the time and place before neatly writing my home and cell phone numbers on a post-it note. “Here, in case anything comes up.” She nodded and glanced at the paper.

“You live in Georgetown?” She must have recognized the prefix.

“Yeah, why?” I questioned as I gathered my things.

“Nothing, just a coincidence, I live in Georgetown.” She shrugged.

“Oh.” I smiled slightly. ‘Oh, indeed. I’d never seen her anywhere while shopping. I would have taken notice.’ “Maybe one night we can skip the office and meet in town for dinner or something.” I offered, partly to gauge her interest and partly because it was more practical to meet in town instead of driving all the way to Quantico if she was just going to be turning around and heading home to Georgetown anyway. She lifted one dark eyebrow at my offer seeming to consider it.

“Maybe,” I saw a small smile tug at the corner of her mouth, “we’ll see how it goes.” I took the response as a good sign and assented.

“Thank you in advance Agent Demakis. I’ll try to make it as painless as possible.” I said as we shook hands. I couldn’t help but notice how nice her hands were, her fingers were long and graceful, her skin flawless.

“You can call me Xena.” She replied and as I left the office I most definitely felt my interest in her rise, yep interesting indeed.

As I drove home on the beltway I tried to focus on what exactly I wanted to know about the Dupree case, but my mind kept wandering back to Xena. She was a striking woman, no doubt about it, tall, dark hair and an athletic build. I could tell even through her standard issue navy cargos and VICAP polo that she kept in shape. Not only was she intelligent, at least I could assume as much from her position of authority over an entire crime scene unit, but she was physically attractive as well. My type of girl.

It had been over eight months since my relationship with Emily had ended after a stint of three years. The breakup had been a mutual decision; we had just drifted apart, moved off in different directions in life. I still had been devastated. She was the love of my life up to that point and I had really thought that we would be together through old and gray. It had taken me months to even start looking at other people; I had thrown myself into my work and pounded out an entire novel in half the time it usually took me.

Now it seems as though my mourning period was over as the beginning sparks of attraction were definitely present with Xena. And even though I usually made it a rule not to mix business with pleasure I admitted to myself that the blue-eyed Special Agent Xena might be my undoing; assuming my assumption about her panned out. Luckily for me, I usually wasn’t wrong about these things.

“Yes!” I high-fived the steering wheel as I spotted and pulled into a parking spot directly in front of my building. Score another one on my good-day meter, parking within a quick walk of my apartment. Stepping out of my SUV I vowed to put Xena out of my mind for the evening, I had work to do.

Well, I made it through dinner without thinking about her, but as I started a list of crime scene details I wanted to know my vow was broken. My mind drifted back over our meeting as I tried to analyze our interaction, to determine if there had been any sparks on her part. I guess time would tell. Sighing, I flipped on the TV in hopes of a distraction.

? ? ?

I entered Xena’s office at five sharp the following day. Much to my dismay she wasn’t there. The lights were on, but nobody was home. Tapping my foot impatiently I looked around the room taking in her office décor. The room was moderately sized and contained an expensive looking wooden desk and leather chair. One wall was occupied by numerous filing cabinets while another had a functional looking glass topped desk with a computer setting on it.

Glancing at the art on the walls, tasteful images of historic architecture, I recognized the Parthenon, Notre Dame Cathedral and Stonehenge. Missing, however, were framed pictures of family and friends so my curiosity as to her ‘status’ would require a bit more investigating. Smiling at her decorative tastes I sat in one of the two chairs at the computer station.

Glancing at my watch I realized it was quarter past and I started to sketch out a note that wouldn’t belay my annoyance when I heard quick footfalls in the hall. Seconds later the would-be recipient of my note came through the door, a stack of folders under her arm. She was still wearing the standard uniform, but if it was possible she was even more alluring than I remembered from the day before, her dark hair was loose, held back by a pair of what I assumed were reading glasses.

“I’m sorry,” she apologized, “I was headed back from the file room with these case histories when one of the men on my team flagged me down. He was droning on and on about something insignificant that was said at a meeting today and it took forever for me to excuse myself.” She explained, looking at her watch and grimacing at her lateness.

“I was beginning to think you weren’t interested in me,” I slipped, “in helping me.” I corrected quickly. ‘Damn! That was smooth Gabrielle.’ For the second time in as many days I got the eyebrow quirk and a hint of a smile.

“I’m interested.” She added lightly as she placed the files in front of me on the table and sat down. I smiled inwardly at her purposefully ambiguous response. “So where do you want to start?” She switched gears and I pulled out my legal pad and recorder.

“Do you mind if I record this?” I asked first. She nodded her assent and I clicked it on. “First let me tell you how I work;” I started, “I collect information about actual crimes and then use that information to write novels, fiction novels.” I paused to gauge her response.

“All the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent type of stuff?” She steepled her hands; her elbows coming to rest on the arms of her chair.

“Well, kinda,” I laughed, “it’s more of background. I come up with the people and situations. I just use the crime information to ensure accurate forensic and investigative details. So if I want to do a homicide novel I talk to the lead investigator in a high profile case in order to determine how it would progress, which steps would come first. Catch my drift?” I waved my pen in the air, trying to make my point.

“Yeah, ok. It’s more like research material, less like the story of the actual case.” I nodded. “Ok, so shoot.” She fixed her warm gaze on me and I tried not to shiver.

“Well, my next novel is going to be about a serial homicide rapist and I figured since Dupree committed those acts you would be the expert, being lead investigator and all.”

“How did you learn about me?” She asked, curious.

“Well, when the idea originally struck I thought back over the news articles I had read about Dupree. Your name was mentioned as being at the scenes and as one of the individuals who was largely responsible for catching him. You were quite popular with the local papers, always mentioned, but never photographed.” I wondered about the last part.

“There is something about having your picture taken at a crime scene that is unsettling to me.” She explained. “Now that you’ve seen me are you disappointed?” She asked, indicating herself by spreading out her arms a bit.

“Not at all, quite to the contrary actually.” I smiled and watched as a slight blush colored her ears. She seemed about to respond when she suddenly drew back into herself, her eyes loosing the soft edge they had exhibited since she entered the office. Wondering about the quick change I jumped into my questions, making a mental note to try and get her to open up a bit at a later time. “Anyway,” I started after a moment of silence, “I wanna know about your typical serial homicide rapist. You know, what you would do if you came across the victims, how you would collect the evidence, what to look for etceteras.”

“Well, first of all there are no ‘typical’ serial homicide rapists. They pretty much vary greatly from case to case. In the Dupree case, he killed six young women, but he didn’t kill them until after her assaulted them. That is not always the case; it all depends on where the thrill is derived. In violent crimes it’s all about the fantasy. Sometimes the perpetrator will strangle with his bare hands, other times he uses a ligature of some sort.

Again in the Dupree case he used a sweater that had belonged to his ex-girlfriend. He caught her cheating on him, but was willing to work past it. She wasn’t, she dumped him and that along with some other contributing drug and mental problems pushed him over the edge. He was so angry that he took his rage at her out on innocent women who just happened to resemble her in some way.” She paused, waiting for my next question.

“Ok, how about the act itself, is it usually planned or spontaneous?”

“Well, it’s about half and half. Most rapists are all about the power of control not the sex act itself…..” I nodded, made scribbly notes and she continued, answering my questions in great detail as three hours past. Finally around eight thirty we called it a night.

“Well, I guess I will see you tomorrow then.” I said as I gathered up my coat and briefcase. She did the same, shutting down her computer for the night.

“Same place, same time?” She suggested as she led me out of the door and building to the parking garage.

“Sure, you think you can be on time?” I teased, still trying to test out the waters. Thus far she has seemed a bit reserved. Not overtly friendly, but not rude either. She had answered my questions with a learned efficiency, not adding any personal opinions or comments.

“I’ll try. I won’t leave the office after quarter till five.” She promised lightly with a cross of her heart.

“Good enough.” I smiled as I hit the power lock on my Grand Cherokee. I tossed my case into the vehicle and watched as Xena located her car and got in. She intrigued me. I thought back to our exchange when she came into the office, she had flirted with me a bit, I was sure of it, but then pulled back, became the utmost professional not breaking out of that mode until we entered the parking garage.

And then that little bit about crossing her heart. There was more to her than met the eye and I wanted to explore, but I wasn’t quite sure how to bring it up without seeming nosy or closing down the opportunity to get her insight for my research. I decided that I would suggest a dinner meeting for the day after tomorrow. Maybe in a more relaxed setting I would be able to get her to talk about more personal subjects.

? ? ?

As promised, Xena was seated at her desk when I came breezing in the next day. I had prepared the subjects I wanted to cover as well as preparing a little snippet about meeting the next night for dinner.

“See, seated at this desk, as promised.” She stated as I pulled up a chair and made myself comfortable across from her.

“I’m impressed, guess I won’t have to stick a needle in your eye.” I taunted, playing off of her actions from the night before.

“Good thing, I may need that from time to time.” I was pleased; she seemed to be in a relaxed mood. I hoped that I could keep her from withdrawing into herself as she had done previously. “So, what is on the score card for today?” She leaned back into her chair, resuming her now-familiar position.

“Well, I thought that we could start with offender types, maybe then progress into the standards of evidence collection the FBI uses. I know that you found a print on Dupree’s last victim using superglue, I didn’t know about that technique.” I rambled on and she gazed at me with an amused expression on her face.

“Whoa there, that is quite a bit. How about we start with the superglue, seems as though you are quite interested in that.” I nodded happily and switched on the recorder.

“Well, as you may or may not know finding prints on the skin is not an easy task so in occasions when we think there may be a latent print we can use a technique that involves vaporizing superglue. Using an airtight hood we heat the superglue and as it vaporizes it will rise and adhere to the oils in a fingerprint. Then as the superglue hardens the print will become visible and it can be photographed and then scanned into a computer for an attempt at finding a match in AFIS.”

“That is pretty impressive, who would have thought that superglue would become an investigative technique.” I was really impressed. “Have you ever done it, the actual procedure?” I questioned her enthusiastically and she laughed. I decided right then and there that in my next life I wanted to be an investigator.

“Once or twice back in the beginning of my career, but now I leave the evidence collection to my Scene Team. I look at the photos and reports they submit and try and get inside of the suspect’s head and figure out where he may strike next and why.”

“Do you think you could show me how you do that?” I asked, indicating the stack of crime scene photos and reports in the envelopes she had produced the day before.

“Yeah, sure.” She sat up and began spreading the 8 x 10 color crime scene photos out on her desk. “These are a bit graphic, you ok with that?” She asked, a bit concerned.

“Yes, I’ve had lots of practice over the years.” I assured her before taking a deep breath in preparation for the violence I was about to become a witness to.

“Ok, first look at these,” she pulled aside a few shots, “this is his first victim and the alley where she was found….” I nodded and she proceeded to point out victim positioning, lividity and evidence found at the scene. I could tell by the way she talked animatedly that she knew what she was talking about and really enjoyed her job.

“Do you ever get nightmares? I would.” I asked when she finished.

“You don’t get nightmares when writing your books?” She inquired.

“Rarely, usually I am pretty good at turning off my brain at night, but sometimes I need to just watch something really happy and mindless on TV before bed.” I explained.

“I don’t usually, but sometimes, when a case is particularly bad yes. It’s hard to get inside of a criminal’s head for eight to ten hours and then leave it at the office.” I nodded sympathetically and placed my hand on her arm. I felt her stiffen slightly and then relax.

“That must be hard.”

“I’ve gotten used to it, well as much as one can get used to a cold sweat at three in the morning.” She tried to lighten the moment with a chuckle. I smiled and slowly removed my hand from her arm when I noticed her quick glance at our touching flesh. I couldn’t tell if she was relieved or disappointed at the action as her only movement was a momentary darkening of the color of her eyes.

“I think on that note I should let you call it a night, you must be tired.” I sighed, realizing for the first time just how difficult and draining her job must be.

“It’s ok, I’m fine. I wanna make sure I answered all of your questions.” She rushed out and I began wondering if she too was trying to figure out if there might be a spark between us.

“You got them all,” I paused and then added, “for today.” I smiled at her hesitation to end our session together. As we prepared to leave I decided to spring my idea about the following night. “How about we meet in Georgetown tomorrow night? You know grab a bite to eat.” I saw her hesitate, thinking momentarily about it. “Come on, nobody wants to stay at the office late on a Friday night.” I urged and she relented.

“Alright, where do you want to meet?” She asked me.

“How about that place on the corner of M and 12th Street?” I suggested.

“That steak place?” She questioned, pulling on her fleece pullover.

“Does everything you own say VICAP on it?” I teased when I noticed the embroidery on the back.

“Ha ha. No, I do actually own other clothes for when I am out and about, off duty, but when in Rome…” She let the rest of the saying drop off.

“Makes sense,” I conceded. “Anyway, the restaurant, it’s called Larry’s. Seven alright?” I questioned and she nodded. “Great, it’s…” I caught myself before I made another slip, “I’ll meet you there.” I glanced at her as we walked out of the building, trying to ascertain if she had noticed the slight pause in my speech. She made no outward appearance that she had. Sighing with relief I bid her goodnight and headed back to my apartment.

? ? ?

Xena was right on time the following evening. I gave her a smile and a wave as she noticed me and began my way. She wasn’t wearing her work clothes and I figured she must have gone home to change before meeting me. As good as she looked in her cargos she looked even better in the loose jeans and black v-neck sweater she was wearing. ‘Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, Gab’ I thought as I admired the way she weaved her way through the restaurant to where I was sitting at the bar. No way was I going to be able to remain professionally detached when she looked that good sitting opposite me.

“Hi.” She said with a quick smile as she flagged down the bartender and ordered a beer.

“Hey, how was work?” I asked, sensing a bit of edginess to her mood.

“Normal day in Violent Crimes.” She shrugged and took a sip of her drink. “Shall we sit?” She indicated a booth in the corner, away from the other patrons seated in the moderately sized room.

“Yeah.” I picked up my drink and followed her to our table.

“So, tell me a bit about yourself.” I prompted her after we had placed our order.

“What, no book research tonight?” She asked, and I could tell she was a bit surprised and thrown off guard.

“Just call this research. I still need a main character for my novel; someone to unravel the intricate web of crime that I shall weave.” I joked, trying to lighten her up.

“Can I make a request?” She asked me seriously as she peeled the label off of her beer bottle. Apparently my lightness had not penetrated.

“Sure.” I was intrigued; thus far she hadn’t asked me anything other than a clarification of what I wanted for book information.

“Don’t base your main character on me.”

“Does this mean you won’t tell me anything about yourself?” I inquired, disappointed. Maybe I had misjudged her.

“No, I will, I just don’t want it to be for the purpose of creating a fictional character. If you want to know more about me I would hope it was because you personally wanted to get to know me.” She explained, still focusing her attention on her half destroyed label. By the way she was looking away from me as she talked I couldn’t tell if she wanted to tell me or just wanted me to back off.

“I do want to get to know you.” I confessed. “But if you don’t want me to use you in my book I won’t.” I promised.

“Thank you.” She said softly, finally lifting her gaze up from the table.

“Are you sure you’re ok? You seem a bit tense.” I lifted the shredded label in example.

“Yeah, I’m ok, it’s just,” she looked around at the now crowded room then back at me, “I’m kind of a private person.”

“Oh, I understand.” I replied, feeling a twinge of hurt at her comments. I looked out over the many happy dinner patrons as I tried to refocus my thoughts away from personal matters. I guess my future love life was not as promising as I had hoped.

“No, I don’t think you do.” She reached across the table and placed her hand over mine in order to draw my attention back to her. “I’d like to spend some time with you, tell you about myself, just not here.” She explained and I smiled, feeling the hurt float away, to be replaced by a feeling of warmth.

“I’d like that.” I confessed and squeezed her hand briefly before letting go so that our waiter could place our dinner on the table. The remainder of the meal passed pleasantly as we talked about inconsequential things like the weather and the ridiculous price of apartments in Georgetown. As we paid the check I was a bit surprised when Xena asked me if I wanted stop by her place to have another drink. I agreed and we flagged down a cab; Xena gave him directions as we drove off into the evening.

“This is the place.” She announced as she opened the door to her apartment and flipped on a lamp. “Just make yourself at home;
I need to check my messages.” She indicated the couch and headed down the hall to what I assumed was a bedroom or office. Xena’s apartment was decorated just as tastefully as her apartment, the lines were clean an neat. Her furniture was impeccable, soft microfiber in muted green tones that set off the natural wood of her coffee and end tables perfectly. ‘The woman has good taste.’ I nodded to myself as I looked for a place to set my things.

Setting my purse down on a letter table that was beside the door I made my way to the couch stopping short when I noticed a copy of my last book on her coffee table. I was a bit taken aback by my own smiling face looking up from the table. I never liked those dust jacket photos. Why was it so important for my readers to know what I looked like? Amused that Xena was reading one of my novels I picked it up and noted the bookmark about two thirds of the way through.

“I guess I’ve been caught.” I jumped at the unexpected voice from behind me. Quickly setting the book back down I turned and saw Xena standing next to the sofa.

“I didn’t hear you come back down the hall.” I confessed as I felt a blush color my cheeks.

“I should be the one blushing.” She indicated the book on the table as she handed me one of the open beers she carried.

“Do you like it?” I asked taking a seat in a plush chair sitting adjacent to the couch.

“It’s good.” She confessed, also taking a seat. “Takes my mind off of the day job. Besides, I thought I should familiarize myself with you, your work, I mean, since we will be spending some substantial time together in the future. Nice picture, by the way.” She rushed out the end part and I got the distinct impression that she was trying to flirt with me.

“Nah, I hate those things. Who has an office that neat anyway? It gives people a false impression of my tidiness.” I shrugged. “I’m glad you like it though.” I said awkwardly, unsure of where to go next.

“Look, I’m sorry about the way I acted at the steak house.” She apologized and I shrugged. “I made it seem as if I didn’t want to talk to you and that’s not the case.”

“Don’t worry about it, I understand. Some people just don’t like to open up to strangers. I just assumed that maybe we could be more than just professional acquaintances, friends maybe?” I asked; feeling like the interest I felt might not be reciprocal after all. God, this night was gearing up to be an emotional rollercoaster, up, down, up, down.

“I got the impression that you might want more from me than that.” I felt the blush get deeper. There was no way to hide it now.

“I didn’t think I was so easily read.” I confessed, embarrassed.

“I’m an above average observer, it’s my job.”

“I guess you’re right,” I chuckled, “on both counts. Does that make you uncomfortable?” I inquired, almost afraid of the answer I would get.

“No.” She said simply. “You interest me.”

“I interest you?” I was confused, “Is that an I interest you because I might be a bit off kilter or an I interest you because you might want to get to know me a bit better too?” I inquired.

“Sorry, I told you I don’t relate well, I guess it’s a result of spending most of my time analyzing psychopaths, I don’t get out into the real world much. The latter, though.” I relaxed a bit, but she still seemed a bit unsure.

“How about we just start with the basics? Tell me a little bit about yourself, since all I know is your name and that you are one of the best profilers VICAP has to offer and you tend to be camera shy.” I offered, trying to ease her discomfort a bit. She shrugged what I assumed to be an ok and began speaking.

“Well, I grew up in upstate New York, my parents still live there. I, uh, have degrees in criminal justice and psychology. The FBI recruited me right out of Grad School and I have been with them ever since, going on ten years now.” I smiled at her lack of personal detail. It sounded like she was giving me her resume, not relating to me personally.

“Any brothers or sisters?” I asked.

“No, I’m an only child.” Her answer was short, to the point.

“Xena,” I said her name softly, “you don’t have to…”

“I want to,” she interrupted me, “it’s just been a while since I have been in this situation. I guess I’m just out of practice with this whole opening up bit. I don’t really have any friends outside of work and with them it’s pretty much work all the time, they don’t know anything about me and I don’t know anything about them. Less complicated that way.” She admitted.

“I can understand that. What about when you were in school? Do you keep in touch with any of your friends from that time of your life?”

“No, not really. I guess I didn’t have a whole lot of friends in school. I pretty much stayed to myself, studying and stuff. I was kind of a geek, I guess I still am.” She smiled a self-depreciating smile.

“I find that hard to believe. I don’t think you’re a geek.”

“You don’t know me that well. What about you, tell me about your life.” She deftly changed the focus from herself onto me.

“Well as you already know I am a writer. I always wanted to write, ever since I was a little girl so when it came time to go off to college I majored in English and Business, just to be sure I would have something to fall back on if I totally sucked at writing.”
She laughed and I continued. “I am a pretty outgoing person, I like to talk and spend time with my family and friends, most of which are still back in New Hampshire where I grew up. Needless to say my phone bills are pretty high every month. And as I previously mentioned I liked to think that I wasn’t easy to get a bead on, but you blew that theory right out of the water, thank you very much.” I joked.

“Sorry.” She apologized sheepishly.

“Don’t be, it’s always good to have the ego knocked back a peg every now and then.” I paused for a moment and just looked at her sitting across from me on the couch. Her posture had relaxed a bit since we first entered the apartment and I figured that she was probably a bit more comfortable now, I don’t know if it was because she was in a familiar surrounding or if she was just more comfortable talking to me in private. Either way, that was how I wanted to leave our first out of the office encounter.

“Well,” I sighed, finishing off my drink and looking at my watch, “I guess I should be getting home.” I moved to slip my shoes back on; I had taken them off at some point during out conversation.

“Ok, well I guess I will see you on Monday then?” She questioned tentatively as she walked me to the door. I turned to respond and practically bumped into her. She was standing a lot closer to me than I had thought. Quickly she reached out and grabbed my shoulder to steady me.

This brought us even closer together. Looking up at her I took in her strong features and realized with a wave of desire just how attractive I found her even if she was just a tad emotionally reserved for my taste. I made a quick decision. ‘Well here goes nothing.’ I said to my self as I closed the remaining distance between us, stepped up on tip-toe and placed a gentle kiss upon her lips, instantly I felt her grip on me intensify, but she didn’t pull back.

“Night.” I whispered a few moments later as I pulled away and left the apartment, not waiting to see her reaction. Well, that would put things in motion. Either move us forward or end our interaction all together. I quickly hailed a cab figuring that with her nervousness throughout the evening that she would want to work through her feelings alone. For now.

? ? ?

I spent the entirety of my weekend trying to decide if I wanted to try and contact Xena before Monday. I even went so far as to obtain her number from the phone book and dialing it halfway before hanging up. I was surprised at the intensity of my desire to see her again. I had only known her for three days. Was that long enough for me to have developed the strong desire I seemed to feel for her?

The cab ride home from her apartment on Friday evening was spent in contemplation. Although she had said she was interested in me did she actually want more than just a friendship? And did I want to go there with a woman who seemed uncomfortable with her own feelings? I had been living openly, having relationships with women since I was in college and I didn’t relish the idea of entering into one where the other participant seemed to be closeted.

Ultimately I decided that I did. After my break-up with Emily I had slipped into a sort of quasi-depression, not really going out of my way to meet new people, get on with my life, but then I met Xena. She instantly caught my attention, attraction wise and I didn’t want to give up the possibility of developing something real with her. I was just going to have to be patient with her, if I could.

So in the end, I decided that I would wait until our next meeting at VICAP and I would take it from there. Come to find out, I would have to wait a bit longer than I had anticipated; she cancelled our meeting for Monday, stating she had an unexpected meeting she had to attend. Ok, I could buy that, but when she cancelled Tuesday’s meeting as well I knew she was avoiding me and I wouldn’t have that. So irregardless of her cancellation message for Wednesday I drove to Quantico to see her.

? ? ?

“I get the distinct impression that you are avoiding me.” I said lightly as I leaned against the door frame of her office. At my voice her head snapped up from the file she was reading.

“Uh…no…I…uh…” She stuttered, clearly surprised to see me.

“Since you are obviously not in a meeting.” I allowed a bit of the anger I was feeling about her actions to enter my voice.

“Gabrielle, I didn’t mean…” She obviously hadn’t expected me to show up at office and she was clearly uncomfortable; part of me was enjoying making her squirm. “I just wasn’t ready to…” I interrupted her.

“Ready to what Xena, face the fact that you are attracted to me?” I asked in an irritated tone. She immediately she looked past me into the hallway, and rose from her seat.

“Can we not talk about this right now?” She asked in a harsh whisper as she closed the door to her office, effectively shutting off our conversation from the rest of her division. This was the most emotion I had seen from her since we met.

“Not talk about this now, or not talk about this here?” I asked, crossing my arms over my chest. I couldn’t believe how angry I was getting, it wasn’t as if we had slept together or anything, we only shared one kiss a fairly chaste one at that, but I was already emotionally invested so that when she made up excuses not to see me I was hurt.

“Here, please not here.” She asked in a low voice and I could see in her expression that she was willing to talk to me, but that it was important that we take the conversation somewhere else.

“Fine, let’s go.” I said, as I opened the door to her office and walked out, expecting that she would follow me. I didn’t turn around until I had reached my car. As I suspected she entered the parking deck moments after I did a grim look on her face as she crossed over to me in less than ten strides.

“I can’t believe you came here.” She said exasperated, placing one hand on her forehead the other on her hip.

“Why not, you kept canceling our meetings and I wanted to know why, and since you wouldn’t take my phone calls I decided that I had to drive down here if I wanted to find out. I knew when I kissed you that you might react badly, but I figured that at least you would be an adult about it and not avoid me afterward. An ‘I’m sorry Gabrielle, but I’m just not interested in you that way’ would have sufficed.” I placed my hands on my hips and glared at her as she glanced around the garage, checking to make sure we were alone.

“I reacted badly, I’m sorry.” She apologized. “I just…” She faded off, shrugging her shoulders.

“Just what? I thought I ‘interested you’,” I made quotation marks with my fingers. “If I got the wrong impression I’m sorry, but you could have told me and I would have been embarrassed, but I would have gotten over it.” I took a deep breath and tried to rein in my sudden burst of anger.

“You do, I told you that I am bad at this. I just, panicked, that’s all.” She tried to explain.

“Panicked? It was just one kiss.” I lowered my voice, remembering that I had accepted the fact that I needed to go slow with her.

“I know! It’s just I promised myself along time ago that I would never allow myself to feel like this again. I’ve been able to remain aloof and in control for so long and then you…you walked into my office asking me if I would help you with your research with your amazing eyes and…I knew…I knew I was in trouble.” Ok, now things were starting to make a little bit of sense. There was a past I was unaware of here. I decided to call her out.

“What happened to you Xena? What happened that you won’t allow yourself to take a chance on someone new?” I asked and by the way she flinched I knew that I had hit a nerve.

“I…” She struggled and shook her head.

“Fine, I guess I’ll see you around then.” I said coldly and turned to my car.

“Gabrielle, wait.” She asked, but I ignored her. Slamming the door I cranked the engine and threw the Jeep in gear. I looked up to see that Xena was no longer standing in front of my car.

“Fuck!!” I slammed my palm on my steering wheel before gunning the gas and speeding out of the garage toward home. “You never should have let yourself get involved! Especially with a federal agent, they are notoriously repressed! You know that!” I berated myself as I sped along the beltway so involved in my own self recrimination I didn’t notice the Volvo sedan that was following me. Throwing my keys down on the kitchen table I stormed through my apartment and flopped down on the couch, my hand covering my eyes. The knock that came moments later startled me.

“What?” I barked, not interested in any visitors.

“Gabrielle, please, let me in.” I heard Xena’s familiar voice through the door.

“No thank you. You shouldn’t have followed me, Xena.”

“Please, I want to explain.” She tried again. Sighing deeply I rose from the couch, not knowing why I was willing to hear her out. Throwing the lock I turned on my heel and returned to the living room.

“So explain.” I demanded as I sat cross-legged on the sofa. Xena didn’t sit; she stood directly in front of me a coffee table separating us.

“It was a long time ago.” She started. “When I was in college I struggled with my sexuality for a while. Was I gay, was I straight, bisexual? Eventually I didn’t want to deal with the struggle anymore. I dunno, maybe I just didn’t want to know so I put the issue on the back burner, threw myself into my work, anything to keep my mind off of what was really going on with me.” She had begun to pace, but paused to look at me.

“Go on.” I prompted at least I was getting some personal information now.

“Well, at the beginning of my junior year I met a woman named Sarah; she was a Grad student. She took an interest in me and for the first time I felt more comfortable with my attraction to women. We dated for a year and a half, she was my first. First serious relationship, first lover, first everything. She was caring and patient, allowing me to set the pace, not laughing at me when I was a fumbling idiot. I fell in love with her. Unfortunately, it wasn’t mutual. She cared for me, yes, but she didn’t love me. I found out just before graduation that she was cheating on me, had been for six months, with a classmate of hers. I was devastated.” She had stopped pacing and was now just standing still, looking down at the floor, her hands lax by her side.

“I’m sorry.” I said softly, feeling for a younger version of the woman standing in front of me, hurting for her lost love.

“I withdrew into myself, made a promise that I would never allow myself to hurt like that again. It wasn’t that easy though. For months I was sullen, my parents couldn’t figure it out. They asked, but I didn’t say anything, I didn’t want them to know. I was afraid of what they would say, how they would react.

“Eventually I went back to school and then directly to the FBI. I immersed myself in work. My self-imposed romantic exile was easy then. I’m good at what I do so I was always busy. Always analyzing other people; getting inside their heads. I never had time to look at myself. You changed that.

I spent all weekend inside my own head for a change, trying to rationalize what I was feeling for you. How quickly I felt connected to you and how I want to know everything about you. Then the other night, when you kissed me and it surprised me.
I wasn’t expecting it, but when it happened I realized that I didn’t want you to stop, it took everything I had not to chase you down the hallway and ask you to do it again.

I felt such a rush of feeling that I haven’t felt in years. Something about you enchants me and as much as I want to deny it, I can’t, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I am drawn to you, but the memory of what happened is still fresh. I’ve been an emotional recluse for so long that when you came along I was broadsided. I didn’t, I don’t know how to act.” She finished and took a deep breath, dropping her chin to her chest. Sighing I rose and moved around the table to stand in front of her.

“Why didn’t you just tell me that instead of avoiding me?” I questioned gently.

“I don’t know, I guess a part of me was hoping that these feelings were fleeting, that if I didn’t see you for a few days then I could get my emotions under control, but I can’t. All weekend I thought about you, about calling you and asking if you wanted to come over or something, but in the end I chickened out.”

“Xena, it’s natural to feel, to want human contact. Not everyone has the purest of intentions and sometimes we get hurt, but we have to move past that. I don’t know what lies ahead for us, but I can tell you this, I am attracted to you. I have been since the first moment I saw you.” I explained as I tilted her chin up so that her eyes met mine.

The pain I saw there made me ache. “I’m sorry that she hurt you, but I am not her. Let me help you heal.” I whispered and she nodded slightly. “I want to kiss you, is that ok or are you going to freak out on me again?” I asked.

“No.” She whispered back.

“No what? No, I can’t kiss you or no you won’t freak out?” I asked, in attempts to clarify her response. “I need more than one word answers here, I am a writer and we tend to be verbose.”

“I won’t freak out.” I smiled at her once again and stepped up on my toes before I sealed our lips together for the second time. I was pleased when I felt her begin to kiss me back. I pulled away after a few moments and I could tell that she was confused. Smiling I grasped her hand and pulled her back toward the couch where I urged her to sit down.

“You’re too tall.” I explained as I straddled her thighs, my knees digging into the couch on either side of her legs.

“Or you’re too short.” She joked and allowed me to pretty much pin her to the sofa. As I looked at her I noticed that the hesitation and uncertainty in her eyes was fading, being replaced by a warmer, gentler gaze. Slowly she was opening up to me, allowing herself to feel something.

“Hey now, no joking about the vertically challenged.” I added before leaning in to resume our kiss. I kept our contact soft for a few moments before I ran my tongue lightly over her lower lip seeking entrance into her warm mouth. Much to my surprise she let me in. Happily I began to run my tongue over her own, coaxing her to respond. I sighed when she suddenly dueled hotly with me for control of the kiss. I attempted to get nearer to her, edging closer to her body. When my knees hit the back of the couch and I could feel the warmth of her body through my shirt she ended the kiss, dropping her head back to the cushion and leaving her eyes closed.

“Wait, please.” She requested slightly breathless.

“Trust me, Xena.” I whispered.

“I want to, but I need time. I’ve only known you for a week and it’s been a long time.” She explained.

“Want to or need to?” I asked with a hint of a smile.

“Need to. What I want is definitely not slow.” She smiled too. It was the first time since the night in her apartment.

“We can take it slow.” I said, knowing that it would be rough, but also knowing that it would be worth it.

“I think I should go.” She said again and I got up from her lap.

“You don’t have to.” I offered, knowing that she would refuse.

“I’ll see you tomorrow?” She asked as she stood up and ran her hands through her dark hair.

“Yeah. You wanna come here after work? After storming in there today I feel a bit foolish. I think I may need to stay away for a while. For your sake as well as mine. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable with your co-workers.”

“Don’t worry about it. There was hardly anyone there. And besides if you hadn’t come in I would probably still be sitting there, staring at the same page I had been looking at for an hour.” She reassured me.

“An hour, huh?”

“Yeah, I was a bit distracted, have been for a week or so.” She confessed.

“I’m so distracting that you neglected to wear your reading glasses?” I joked.

“Yeah, you are. And that is pretty scary for me.”

“Well, you’ve been pretty distracting for me too; if that makes you feel any better.” I admitted.

“Oddly, yeah it does. At least I know that I am not alone in this.” I grasped her hand and squeezed it.

“Nope, not alone.” I smiled when I felt her squeeze back.

“So,” she sighed dramatically, “tomorrow?”

“Yeah, we can eat, talk some more about my book.” I suggested.

“You want me to come over to talk about the book?” She raised an eyebrow. And I smiled at the apparent weight that seemed to have lifted off of her shoulders.

“Well, no not really, but…” I tugged on her fingers again. “You know you really don’t have to leave.” I wanted her to stay, even if we just watched TV. I wanted to spend more time with her, get more comfortable together now that we seemed to be over our first hurdle.

“Yes I do.” She sighed. “Do you think that I could use your restroom first though?” She asked and I nodded, indicating the direction of the bathroom. While she was freshening up I quickly went to my desk and withdrew an envelope and a sheet of paper. After a moment of thought I scratched out a quick note;
In case you change your mind.
-Gabrielle
Digging around in my top drawer I withdrew my extra key and taped it to the note, slipped it into the envelope and slipped it into her discarded pullover as she emerged from the hallway.

“Have a good night.” I said softly once she had donned the jacket and was standing in the doorway.

“Tomorrow?” She questioned.

“Tomorrow.” I confirmed and kissed her quickly. “Check your pocket when you get home.” I said as she walked down the hallway and out of sight. I didn’t really think she would be back so I tidied up the apartment and headed off to bed, pleased with the progress we had made. ‘Why do you always pick the troubled ones?’ I pondered as I climbed between the sheets. “Maybe this will be the last one.” I said to myself as I reclined into the pillows and thought about what made me desire Xena Demakis. I fell asleep thinking about the few kisses we had shared.

I woke from a sound sleep a few hours later unsure as to what had awakened me. I slowly scanned the perimeter of the room thinking that something had fallen off a shelf or something. A figure sitting in my corner chair startled me and I jumped.

“It’s me.” I relaxed at the familiar voice.

“Xena?” I grogged out as I tried to focus my eyes on her in the dim light.

“Yeah, it’s me.” She said softly, not moving from the chair.

“How long have you been here?” I asked, sitting up.

“Awhile.” She confessed.

“Why didn’t you wake me?”

“I wanted to let you sleep.” She explained.

“You ok?” I questioned, concerned.

“Better now.”

“What time is it?”

“About two thirty.” She replied.

“Aren’t you tired?” I asked.

“A little, but I wasn’t sleeping at home so…” She trailed off.

“Come here.” I beckoned to her, lifting the blankets next to me.

“I don’t think I’m…” She started to protest.

“You need to sleep, I need to sleep, we can do it together.” I suggested. I saw her hesitate for a moment before rising from the chair and moving up beside the bed.

“I’m still in my clothes.” She argued.

“Top drawer on the right; there should be a t-shirt in there that will fit you.” I pointed in the general direction of the dresser. She disappeared from my sight for a few moments before returning, wearing one of my bigger shirts. She was pulling it down around her thighs. Smiling at her shyness I once again lifted the blankets and she crawled in, settling on her back. “This ok?” I asked as I moved up against her side, placing one arm across her stomach.

“Yeah, it’s ok.” She sighed and relaxed her body.

“Sleep.” I yawned.

“Sleep.” She agreed. It wasn’t long before I was once again dreaming.

? ? ?

I awoke to an empty bed the following morning. Rolling over I glanced at the bedside clock, nine thirty. ‘She must have gone to work.’ I mused as I gave one good stretch before rolling out of bed. ‘Ahh the schedule of a writer.’ I thought happily as I absently reached to fill the coffee maker with water. A plume of steam caught my attention when I opened the lid. Glancing down I realized the pot was half full.

“Hmm, she got up, made coffee and I didn’t stir. I must have been more tired than I realized.” I said to myself as I poured a cup, added some sugar and padded to the living room. It was as I sat down that I noticed the small yellow post-it stuck to the remote.

Had to go to work, didn’t want to wake you. I’ll call later.

-Xena
“She’ll call?! Progress indeed.” I grinned and flipped on the morning news for background so I could begin tidying up and start writing. True to her word Xena phoned later in the afternoon. We talked about nothing in particular and then decided that she should just pick up a pizza on her way over. Surprisingly it had been a productive day for me. I had outlined my intended story and even written a few pages of notes for the first chapter. I was just shutting down my computer when I heard a soft knock on the door. I peeked through the peephole, just in case, and rolled my eyes when I saw Xena standing there with pizza in hand.

“You have a key.” I said to her once we were settled on the living room floor, eating.

“I didn’t know if you wanted me to use it.” She explained sheepishly.

“Of course, it works all the time you know, not just in the middle of the night.” I joked.

“Sorry about that.” She apologized between bites.

“Don’t, that is why I gave it to you. In case you wanted to come back.”

“I didn’t expect to, but I went home, found your note and was just sitting there thinking about how I didn’t really want to leave but some frightened little prudish voice in my head made me. And then I couldn’t sleep so I came back.” She tried to explain.

“Look, Xena, this whole thing is on your terms. We can go as fast or as slow as you want. You don’t need to apologize for wanting to go at a slower pace, I understand. What we do or don’t do is entirely up to you. All I want is for you to trust me, trust my feelings for you and take what I say at face value. No more apologizing, ok? When you do something that you need to apologize for I will let you know.” I ended with a smirk and a wink and she laughed.

“Thank you for being so patient with me, my moods and my past.” I nodded and we finished our dinner with much less serious conversation. I told her about a cat I’d had as a child and she tried to fill me in on a bit more of what a growing up Xena was like. Eventually we agreed to put in a movie. Sadly, or not so sadly when you think about it, we didn’t see much of it once we settled on the couch. Xena, much against her proclamations about going slow, immediately pulled me in for a kiss.

“I have been thinking about doing that all day.” She confessed after we’d parted.

“Me too.” I grinned and pulled her back against me, positioning us so that she was sprawled out on top of me. Instantly she started to get up. “Did you only think about kissing me once?” I joked.

“I’m too heavy.” She protested.

“No, you’re good.” I assured her, wrapping my arms around her neck and forcing her to remain in place.

“You sure?”

“Yeah, now get back down here.” I ordered and with a quick smile she did as told.

“Much better.” I purred before resuming our previous activity. Our make-out session on the couch quickly grew a bit more heated as we each battled for control of our kisses. I was pleased when I felt her moan into my mouth after one particularly dominant thrust of my tongue. Wanting more control I tried to flip us over forgetting that we were on the sofa and had limited space. Promptly we ended up on the floor.

“Are you ok?” I asked between chuckles.

“I should be asking you that, you broke our fall.”

“I’m fine, just forgot that we were on the couch. If anything I am a bit embarrassed.” I admitted as I felt a blush begin to creep up my cheeks.

“It was unexpected.” She was laughing now too. “I guess I am just a bit tall for necking on the sofa.”

“Come on.” I beckoned once she had lifted herself off of me.

“Where are we going?”

“Where we have more room.” I grabbed her hand and led her back through the apartment to my bedroom. She hedged a bit when she saw where we were heading so I quickly kneeled on the end of my bed and drew her against my body. Our heights were more comparable now. Wanting to calm her sudden edginess I locked my gaze with hers.

“We only go as far as you’re comfortable remember that. Just because we are in this room doesn’t mean anything has to happen.” I reassured her as I threaded my hands through the hair at her temples and tilted her head back to expose her throat. Lightly I brushed my lips over the column of flesh. Hearing no protests I began kissing her neck, alternating with soft nips to her skin. Careful not to leave any lasting marks I moved across to her ear, blowing softly into it before speaking.

“You ok?” I asked before taking the lobe into my mouth and sucking more forcefully. I felt her swallow hard before answering.

“Ye…eessss…” She dragged out and I felt her hands come to rest on my hips; the heat of her hands quickly penetrated my clothing and warmed my skin. Releasing my hold on her hair I brought my hands down to the buttons on the collar of her polo shirt. Watching her body language for any signs of discomfort I released the three small fasteners. Seeing no adverse response from her I parted the flaps of her shirt to expose the skin of her upper chest and collarbones and returned to my previous tasks, showering attention on her newly exposed flesh.

“That’s nice.” She purred and I felt her hands release my hips and drag higher up my ribs, un-tucking my blouse a bit in the process. Sliding my own hands down to her belt line I hooked my fingers into the loops and started to scoot back, urging her to follow me.

“Come up here.” I beckoned and she moved up on the bed, kneeling in front of me. Releasing her belt I placed one hand behind her neck and pulled her down for another kiss immediately plunging my tongue into her mouth to stroke the insides of her cheeks and teeth. My other hand began to pull her shirt out of her pants so that I could explore more of her tempting skin. Running my fingertips lightly over her stomach I felt her shiver and then pull back. I thought that was going to be the end of our session, but she surprised me.

“Off.” She stated as she pulled her shirt up and off over her head. I smiled as she revealed her torso to me, clad only in a simple white lace bra. The color contrasted nicely with her tanned skin and dark hair. Feeling that I too should shed some clothing I began to unbutton my blouse.

“Lay back, Xena.” I said and she complied, moving to lie on her back beside me. Still releasing buttons I moved to straddle her hips, resting my weight on her thighs. Not content to just watch Xena started releasing buttons from the bottom and met me in the middle. Pulling off the now useless garment I threw it over my shoulder toward the end of the bed and leaned forward, running my hands up and over her abdomen toward her breasts stopping just short of the gentle swell of her chest. “Your skin is so soft.”
I purred.

“Mmmm…” She sighed deeply as she watched me caress her.

“More?” I asked as I slid further down her legs so I had easier access to her tantalizingly toned stomach.

“God, yes…more Gabrielle.” She moaned and I complied, laving attention to the area just above her navel. Running my tongue around it I moved north leaving a damp trail in my wake. Skipping over one of the areas I most wanted to pay attention to I placed my hands on either side of her head to support my weight. Leaning in I flicked the tip of my tongue over her lips.

“What about slow?” I asked, feeling our lips brush as I spoke.

“Screw slow, it went out the window when you started kissing me like that. It’s been so long that I think I had forgotten how good it felt. Feeling you against me makes me wonder why I ever wanted to go slow in the first place. Besides I may be emotionally scarred, but I never said I was a prude. Once things get going that is.” She replied, dragging her hands up my sides and around to brush over my chest; I felt my nipples harden at the light contact.

“Xee-nahhh,” I breathed, “it’s hard to concentrate when you do that.”

“That’s the point.” She smiled and continued to lightly brush her hands over my bra; I couldn’t contain the growl that escaped my lips.

“Who are you and where is the Xena that was here last night?” I asked teasingly, secretly pleased with this newfound confidence that she seemed to have acquired in the span of twenty four hours.

“Oh, it’s me, I just decided that I want to give this thing we have going a try.” She explained, becoming bolder in her stroking, continuously rubbing my nipples through the thin fabric covering my chest.

“I’m glad.” I said, slightly more breathlessly than I had intended, she definitely had my complete attention. Her only response was a slight smile and a firm tweak of my flesh that caused an answering jolt from my rapidly awakening center. “You’re in for it now.” I threatened lightly.

“I’m counting on it.” She replied before lifting her head off of the bed, crossing the scant distance we had maintained while talking. Her kiss nearly took my breath away as it was all passion and heat. She knowingly probed my mouth, tangling her tongue with my own and coaxing it into the action. ‘God, I could kiss her forever,’ I thought as she claimed me with her skilled tongue. Pulling away I latched on to her neck once again, teasing her mercilessly with my teeth only to soothe the indentations I left with gentle kisses. In time I made my way back down her body till I met the waistband of her pants. With knowing fingers I unfastened her belt and button, dragging her zipper down with infinite slowness.

“Up.” I instructed and I drew the heavy cotton fabric down her legs. Hopping off the bed I made quick work of her boots and socks as well as releasing her from the confines of her lowered pants. Popping the buttons on my jeans they too were delegated to the floor as I stepped out of them and rejoined my soon to be lover on the bed. Crawling I made my way up her legs.

“God you are so hot.” I breathed as I took in the image of her before me. Her dark hair was splayed across the bedspread, her white lingerie and her hands, self consciously crossed over the stomach, the only things impeding my view. Despite her confidence of a moment ago she still seemed to harbor some needless insecurity about her body. Threading my fingers with hers
I moved her hands away from her stomach until they were resting on my shoulders. “You are beautiful, don’t hide from me.” I whispered before placing a wet kiss in the dip just below her navel. Peppering kisses up her body I moved up to straddle her hips once again. “Turn over.” She did as asked and I began to knead and caress her shoulders and back.

“Mmmm, nice.” She moaned a bit breathlessly.

“Can I take this off?” I questioned, slipping my fingers under the hooks of her bra. She nodded a response. Deftly I released the clasps and slid the straps down her arms as far as they would go in her present position. “Lift.” I instructed. Together we slipped the thin straps of satin down and off her arms.

None to gently I tossed the discarded item in the general direction of our previously removed clothing. After she resumed her position I continued my impromptu massage until I felt no tension remaining in her muscles. Only then did I replace my hands with my lips and tongue, paying particular attention to her lower back and spine. I blew gently across the moisture I had left and noticed the goose bumps that raced across her arms.

Sitting up I reached behind my own back and unhooked my bra, removing it completely before dragging my naked torso up her back. Expelling my own moan as her heated flesh tantalized my already needy breasts. Resting my weight on my hands I lifted up enough for her to flip back over. Capturing her crystal eyes I lowered myself onto her bringing our naked skin into contact for the first time.

“God!” I moaned when I felt the firm points of her nipples pressing into my own turgid flesh. Taking in a shaky breath she wrapped her arms around me, pressing her warm palms into my shoulder blades.

“Am I too heavy?” I asked jokingly as I brushed a few stray wisps of hair out of her face.

“No,” she chuckled, “you’re just right.”

“May I?” I asked, looking down to where our breasts were pressed together.

“You’d better.” She joked with a lopsided grin which quickly gave way to low moan as I moved down and enveloped one tight nipple in my mouth, sucking hard. Not one to be neglectful I rubbed the pads of my fingers over her other breast, placing the sensitive nub in the vee of two fingers and squeezing rhythmically.

“Harder Gabrielle.” Xena moaned and threaded her fingers through my hair pressing me into her. In response I added sharp bites with my teeth, not enough to hurt, but enough to get her attention. “Yeeessss.” She hissed and I switched breasts lavishing the same treatment on the neglected globe. When I felt her hips begin to thrust up against me I released her and placing a hand on each knee I urged her to spread her legs a bit more. When there was enough room I settled between them on my stomach. At first I focused my attention on her thighs running just the tips of my fingers teasingly over them. Her legs were fabulous, all firm muscle and tanned skin. When that wasn’t enough I slipped two fingers under the thin side straps of her panties and began to pull them down. My progress was stopped when she encircled one wrist with a strong hand.

“It’s been a long time, really long.” She confessed, a touch of nervousness reappearing in her voice.

“Do you want me to stop?” I asked wanting to be sure she was certain about this.

“No, no I don’t, just…” She hesitated.

“We don’t have to do this now.” I offered and she shook her head slowly.

“I want to; it’s just suddenly I am a bit nervous.”

“We’ll go slow.” I promised and she nodded, releasing my wrist so that I could continue to remove the last vestiges of her clothing. Tossing the white satin aside I focused my attention on going slowly. Pressing one hand to the inside of her knee I bent her leg outward and positioned it flat on the bed before grazing my finger over the crease where groin met thigh, Xena twitched in response. I inhaled deeply, the scent of her arousal assailing me as I touched her sex for the first time, parting the delicate folds with my fingers and running the tip of my tongue along her flesh.

“Mmmm, you are so wet.” I moaned as I licked at her causing her hips to lift up off the mattress.

“Ahhh…that’s so…good.” She moaned and I intensified my efforts adding more pressure to my intimate caress, finding and focusing some direct attention to her engorged clit. “Shit…” She cursed, her hips surging upward with one particularly hard swipe of my tongue. With rapt attention I explored her center, swirling my tongue along swollen flesh, sucking and nipping occasionally; humming my pleasure as she moaned out her needs and desires to me. She was moving constantly now making it hard for me to focus my attentions where she needed it. My own sex was pounding out its need for some attention as well. Deciding that I wanted to feel her touching me I gave one hard last swipe and released her. “Wha…no…no, don’t stop.” She cried as I pulled away.

“Shh, I’m not, just switching positions a bit.” I soothed her as I moved up to lie next to her on my side. Taking her hand in my own I placed it on my hip, urging her to remove the rest of my clothing as well. “I want to feel you touching me.” I explained. She nodded and slipped her hands into the waistband of my panties and eased them over my hips. After tossing the scrap of material to the floor she traced the tips of her fingers over my lower back and ass. I couldn’t help the moan that escaped my throat.

Needing to feel her firm body against me I scooched closer until our breasts were once again pressed together. Grasping her thigh I pulled it up to wrap around my hip before bending one knee and placing my foot flat on the bed. “Touch me, Xena.” I whispered. Readily she complied, gently brushing her hand over where the softness of our breasts met and down my abdomen toward my sex. “Ahhh yessssss.” I sighed when I felt her hand come in contact with my swollen flesh and she begin gently stroking me.

“Tell me what you want, how you feel.” She instructed as she increased the pressure of her caresses, parting my folds easily and dipping inside.

“That feels…ahhh…so…good.” I breathed when I felt one finger circle my own sensitive clit before setting up a slow rhythm of strokes. Her touch was exquisite, as I knew it would be, both gentle and firm. Much to my surprise I was quickly being propelled toward climax. My own fondling never aroused me so quickly, fantasies couldn’t compare to a flesh and blood woman touching you. I couldn’t imagine Xena going years without intimate contact, nine months and I was going to come within mere minutes. Wanting her to feel the same pleasure I was I draped my free arm over her hip so that I could touch her from behind. She jumped slightly as I traced two fingers through her folds.

“I want to feel you, inside.” I whispered as I leaned in to rest my forehead against hers. Her breathing increased in tempo to match my own. She nodded and I slowly penetrated her with one finger. “Mmmmm you are so soft and warm.” I purred as I felt her envelop me. She felt like liquid heat sliding against my hand.

“God, Gabrielle.” She moaned as I began to pump my hand against her body. Her own fingers had stilled during my assault, just resting against my heated flesh.

“Inside Xena, I want you inside me.” I prompted and shivered as I felt one long tapered finger invade my depths. With much difficulty I tried to focus on her, adding another finger to my thrusting and curling them slightly to rub against the ultra sensitive patch of flesh on the front wall of her sex with each rocking motion of my hand. Her response was immediate.

“Ungh…yeeessss….” She groaned and began rocking her hips harder against me. “More…please.” She requested between breaths and I complied adding a third digit. Despite her distracted state she continued to match my pace, thrusting in counterpoint to my own movements inside of her.

“More.” I husked and she immediately added another finger to her probing. With quickening pace we rocked against each other, the friction of our heated skin adding to the ever building pleasure. “I’m close…” I managed between moans, feeling the first threads of orgasm coiling in my belly. She too was on the verge as her inner muscles had begun to flutter against my invading presence.

“So…close…god…” She panted as she began pushing herself more forcefully against me. Wanting her to climax first I pressed my thumb against her straining clit, stroking it in time with our movements. The added stimulation was enough to bring her over. “I’m…ahhh…Gab-ri-eeelllleee.” She moaned loud and long as her body clamped down on my fingers. Not one to be left out I pressed down hard against her hand, riding her to my own release.

“Xe-nahh…..yesssss.” I called out as I felt the white hot bolt of release sear through me. Riding out the waves of pleasure together we lie, pressed close, trying to catch our breath.

? ? ?

“I want to know you, all of you.” I purred some time later, after we had regained a normal breathing rate and were cocooned in the warmth of my bed.

“I think you pretty much have me covered, you were quite thorough.” She joked and I smacked her lightly on the shoulder.

“That’s not what I meant.” I chuckled and propped myself up on an elbow so that I could look at her. Her eyes were closed and she was smiling. “I want to know about you, what you do on holidays, your favorite foods, hobbies, would your family like me?
I mean, if they knew…” I faded off.

“I want them to know you.” She confessed softly opening her eyes and tucking an errant piece of hair behind my ear.

“Really?” I questioned, surprised.

“Yeah, I have been thinking about telling them about me for a while now. Mom has started to ask when I am going to find the “right man” and settle down, I hadn’t mustered up the courage to tell them that I would be looking for the “right woman” yet, but then you came along and made my decision easier. Knowing you, being with you the past few days has made me happier than I have been in long time, happier than I have ever been, despite how I may have acted in the beginning. It’s about time they knew more about me too, about the important people and things in my life, you especially.” She paused for a moment before continuing, “there is something I need to tell you.”

I felt my stomach clench. ‘Oh, god, what?’ Was the first thing that ran through my head. “You need to tell me something now? After…” I gestured to our entwined bodies. My panic must have shown on my face because she was quick to reassure me.

“I think I am falling in love with you.” She blurted out in one breath. Despite her desire to soothe me, I saw her hesitant expression and I felt my eyes begin to water and the fearful flutter in my belly being replaced by a fuzzy warmth.

“Me too.” I confessed, my relief palpable. I couldn’t help the few errant tears that fell when her expression melted into a beautiful smile.

“We’ve known each other for such a short time; do you think it’s real, what we’re feeling?” She asked, a bit fearfully.

“I can tell you this for certain, I have only been in love once and even though you’ve been in my life for such a short time I feel more for you than I ever did in the past.” I confessed, tracing the tip of my index finger over her exposed collarbone.

“I’ll admit that I am still a little bit scared, but when I look at you it all seems to fit, it feels so right.” She sighed deeply.

“I feel it too and I am a bit scared as well. It’s never easy putting yourself out there in front of another person and hoping that they feel as much for you as you do for them. It’s a vulnerable position.” She agreed and I felt the need to reassure her as to my intentions once more. “Trust how much I feel for you, Xena,” I implored, “and I promise that I will do everything in my power to make those fragile feelings go away. I want you to be confident in my commitment to what we are making here.” I lightly kissed her lips as I finished my little speech.

“Thank you, Gabrielle.” She whispered as I tucked myself under her chin, one arm draped across her stomach.

“For what?” I asked.

“For taking a chance on me, for giving me the chance to explain when I was such a fool the other day.”

“Mmmm, my pleasure, tenacity has always been one of my strong suits.” I tightened my hold on her briefly. “Just don’t wig out on me again, huh?”

“I’ll try.”

“That’s all I ask.” I smiled as I heard her yawn above me.

“Sleep, we’ll have plenty of time to work out the details.” I too felt the tug of sleep pulling at me. Sighing I closed my eyes and drifted off more content than I had been in a long time.
Chapter 2
Introductions and Embarrassments
Just like the previous day I woke to an empty bed and although I realized that Xena had a “real job” I was still disappointed that we had yet to spend a lazy morning together. ‘Well,’ I sighed to myself, ‘at least it’s Friday. Maybe I can convince her to stay here this weekend.’ I thought as I padded my way toward the bathroom for a shower.

“Aww, shit.” I swore to myself as I stood in the bathroom nude, adjusting the water temperature. “Just what I need.” I added, stepping under the warm spray. Due to my seeming obsession with getting Xena to respond to my advances I had conveniently forgotten that my mother had planned a visit for the upcoming weekend. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my mother’s company, we hadn’t seen each other in a few months, but this was just not what I had envisioned for my first official weekend with the tall FBI Agent. “Well, that will certainly put the kibosh on any extracurricular activities for the next few days.” I was still shaking my head, cursing my forgetfulness when I heard the frosted shower door slide and felt a warm body sidle up behind me.

“Mmmm, much better than work.” I heard my lover purr as I spun in her embrace, surprised.

“What are you doing here?” I asked, a bit more harshly than I had intended.

“Do you want me to leave?” She asked, dropping her arms from around my waist.

“NO! No, you just surprised me, sorry. I was lost in my thoughts there for a minute and I didn’t hear you come in.” I grabbed her hands to prevent her from leaving the steamy shower stall.

“You sure?” She intoned with an arched eyebrow.

“Definitely, I was just thinking before I got in here how much I wished you didn’t have to work today.” I admitted, pulling her against me and under the shower spray.

“Just your luck, I now officially have the day off.” She smiled.

“How did you manage that?” I returned her happy grin.

“Well, I attended morning meeting, determined that there was nothing pressing on the table for today and then much to my A.D.’s surprise I requested a vacation day; he about had a heart attack, I haven’t taken a day off since I started at VICAP. I think they were about to make me take a mandatory vacation.” She joked.

“That much time banked, huh?” She nodded.

“Lots.”

“Maybe we should take a vacation, go somewhere tropical once I finish my book.” I suggested as I drizzled a bit of fragrant shower gel into my palm and began to work up a nice lather.

“Hmm, sun, sand and you in a bikini, I don’t know…” she pretended to ponder it for a minute.

“Who said anything about a bathing suit?” I teased, arching my own eyebrow in imitation.

“Well, since you are twisting my arm and all…” She agreed and I chuckled.

“Riigghhttt…” I rolled my eyes and ran my hands over her stomach and chest, spreading the slippery soap on her skin. She moaned when I spent some extra attention on her hardened nipples.

“Yeah, much better than work.” She sighed.

“Well, I would hope so.” I said, sliding my arms around her to soap up her delicious backside, slipping down to tease between her legs.

“Don’t tease, Gabrielle.” She warned playfully.

“I’m not; I have every intention of following through.” I smiled seductively and spun us around so that she was directly under the water. The soap was rinsed away as she tilted her head back to wet her hair. “Do you want me to wash it?” I asked when she opened her eyes to look at me.

“That’s ok, I did it this morning.” She told me as she reached for the shower gel and began to return the favor. I practically melted when I felt her hands knead my lower back and ass. “Rinse.” She commanded after she had worked the two-in-one cleanser into my hair. Obediently I did as told, letting out a surprised squeak when I felt her warm mouth envelop the point of my breast while my head was tilted back. Her tongue was oh so talented, circling and then flicking at the tender bud before she sucked forcefully causing a responding clench in my rapidly warming sex.

“God, Xena.” I moaned, tangling my hands in her hair partially to pull her closer and partly to keep me from collapsing into a puddle on my shower floor. “It’s settled, you are never leaving this apartment again.” I sighed and I heard her chuckle as she switched breasts, moving to lavish attention on my neglected globe repeating her pattern of nips and firm suction.

“That is a nice fantasy.” She finally responded as she worked her lips up the column of my throat.

“Isn’t it though.” I agreed before capturing her wandering mouth in a kiss. She sighed and I took the opportunity to thrust my probing tongue into the warm confines, stroking her own probing muscle and enticing it to come out and play a bit. Apparently she didn’t require any coaxing for she was soon in control, stabbing her tongue into my mouth and backing me up against the shower wall, the cool tile against my back making me shudder. ‘This is an exciting turn of events.’ I thought when she lifted one leg off the floor and wrapped it around her waist, exposing me to the humid air of the bathroom.

“This ok?” She asked, breaking our kiss and pressing her body the full length against mine.

“Oh yeah.” I breathed and rested my head back against the almond tile. ‘Are you kidding, me of course it’s alright. Where was this dominating personality last night?’ I thought as we resumed kissing. The warm spray of water surrounding us, combined with the steam filling the small room was making this whole situation very erotic. I suddenly wished I had a video camera so I could tape us and watch it over and over and over.

Xena’s hands felt like they were everywhere at once, caressing and fondling my sensitive skin as she mapped my mouth and neck with her tongue and teeth. I had a feeling that I would bear marks of this session for a few days to come. I thought I was as aroused as I could get when I felt her start to slide to her knees before me, resting the leg that was around her waist over her shoulder. Apparently I was wrong, for when I looked down and saw her kneeling, intent on pleasuring me, I felt my support leg go weak for a moment.

“Can you stay like that?” She asked, concerned.

“I think so; the visual just caught me a bit off guard.” I admitted, resting my hand on her free shoulder for a bit of extra strength.

“Hang on.” She instructed with a hint of a grin before lowering her head to my sex and running her wet tongue over my swollen outer folds.

“XENA!” I cried when she parted my sex with her fingers and began exploring me in earnest. No wonder she was so good at her job, she was very focused and completely thorough with her investigation, hitting every sensitive spot I had, repeatedly. Just as I was about to beg for more she inserted two fingers into my center and began to pump them in and out in time with the flicks of her tongue. Wanting to prolong my pleasure she avoided my erect clit, stroking just to the side and under the demanding bundle of nerves. Practically writhing beneath her touch I tangled my hands in her hair and pulled her harder against my needy flesh.

“Xenahhhhh….make me…I want to come…please.” I begged between moans when I felt I could take no more of her torturously exquisite touch. Fortunately for me she complied, immediately adding another finger to her probing and dragging the length of her tongue over my straining clit. Before I knew what was happening I was coming. Screaming out her name I slammed my head back against the tile and I saw twinkling before my closed eyes. The force of my climax caught me by surprise, I was tingling from knees to chest and Xena was still moving her mouth against me, drawing out the pleasure for as long as she could. “Stop, stop…” I sighed when the aftershocks began to subside. Raising from her knees my dark-haired lover pressed herself against me and seized my mouth in a kiss. I groaned when I tasted myself on her tongue. The pressure of her weight was the only thing keeping me standing at that point. Slowly she withdrew her fingers causing another burst of flutters in my sex and maneuvered us under the cooling spray.

“You sure you’ve only had one lover?” I questioned dreamily as I clung to her, waiting for my strength to return.

“Yeah, why?”

“Because that was amazing, you are soooo good.” I hummed and she laughed.

“Well, it’s been almost ten years, I’ve had lots of time to fantasize, especially in the past two weeks.” She purred into my ear. “You are very inspirational.”

“Xena,” I admonished her lightly, “you were thinking about having sex with me from the moment we met?” I was genuinely surprised, especially since our first few days were a bit rough.

“Well, maybe not immediately, but after you kissed me, hell yeah. Despite the way I acted I was still totally enamored with you.” She confessed.

“Mmm, I’m glad, cuz I think I kinda like you.” I teased and received a light slap on my backside in retaliation.

“Only kinda?” Xena asked in mock indignance.

“Well, maybe more than kinda, a lot more.”

“That’s more like it.” She said and I could hear the smile in her voice. It was hard to believe that we had only known each other for two weeks and already I knew I was hopelessly in love with the blue-eyed woman sharing my shower. Boy, I had it bad, but luckily I knew that she did too.

“Water’s getting cold.” She commented after a few silent moments.

“Guess we’ll have to take this party elsewhere.” I replied my head nuzzled in the crook of her neck, my arms around her waist.

“Guess so.” She reached behind her and deftly turned off the shower. Releasing her I opened the glass door and stepped onto the bath mat. Quickly I dried myself off and handed Xena a towel so she could do the same. She was about to reach for her discarded clothing when I grabbed her hand and began pulling her out of the bathroom.

“Where we going?” She asked as I walked backwards through the apartment.

“To finish what you started. I don’t want to be labeled a tease now, do I?” I winked at her.

“I was wondering about that.” She mused.

“Yeah, well I was ambushed in the shower.” I smiled.

“I wouldn’t say ambushed, per se.” She laughed.

“No, it was an ambush, but I liked it. A lot.” I yanked harder on her hands, spinning her around and pushing her back onto the bed.

“How much?” She asked, her eyes getting impossibly bluer by the moment.

“Let me show you.” I purred as I crawled up her body to capture her lips, intent on hearing her scream my name loudly at least once before lunch.

? ? ?

“So, what do you want to do this weekend?” She asked me over a smoked turkey on wheat a little over an hour later.

“Fuck!” I swore and she looked at me a bit surprised, she had never heard me curse before.

“Well, that is not necessarily the word I would use, but…” I laughed and cut her off.

“No, that’s not what I meant, but yes that too. I forgot to tell you what I was thinking about when you so rudely interrupted me in the shower.” I teased her. She raised her eyebrow in question as she chewed.

“My mother is coming to town.” I rushed out. “I completely forgot until this morning. Her plane comes in tomorrow morning and she is here till Monday night.” I ran my hand through my drying bangs in frustration at the situation.

“Oh. Well, I guess I will go back to my apartment then.” Xena said, resigned. I scowled at myself when I noticed her start picking at the sprouts on her sandwich.

“No, I mean you don’t have to, you can stay. I want you to. Stay that is.” Why was it that I suddenly had difficulty speaking? I am a writer; this is so not my style.

“I don’t want to intrude on your time with your mom.” She didn’t meet my gaze.

“Xena, I want you to meet her.” I explained, grabbing her hand to prevent her from picking at her food. “Stay here, please.” I asked.

“You sure? I mean this is so new and who knows if…” I held up a hand to stop her.

“Ah stop! We talked about this, doesn’t matter how new it is. We are building a relationship here and when you are involved with someone you are involved with their life too, that includes family. Besides it’s just my mom, it’s not as if it’s the Spanish Inquisition.” I joked, trying to get back our playful mood of a few minutes ago.

“How long has she known you are gay?” Xena asked after a moment.

“Uh, well officially since sophomore year of college, but unofficially she probably suspected a few years before that, why?” I asked a bit surprised at this turn in conversation.

“Was she upset, when you told her, I mean?” I sensed that my answers to her questions would be important when it came time to telling her own family so I was as honest as I could be.

“No, I don’t think she was upset. I think she was a little disappointed that she probably wouldn’t be getting any grandchildren, but all she really wanted was for me to be happy. When I think about it now, I realize that it was probably quite obvious to her. I mean, during high school I didn’t have any boyfriends. I preferred hanging out with my girlfriends and always made excuses as to why I rejected all the boys who asked me out. I didn’t figure it all out for myself until my senior year when I developed this huge crush on a girl who was on the ski team with me. God, I was such a nervous wreck whenever she was around.”

“Did you ever tell her how you felt?”

“No, I wasn’t ready to make that step; that happened in college. I guess it was a safer environment for me, you know away from home, from where anyone could possibly see me out with another woman. It gave me a chance to become comfortable with who I am.” I shrugged.

“How many women did you…” she paused for a moment, “date?” She asked and I realized that it wasn’t so important how many women I dated as how many of them I had slept with.

“Not many, I wasn’t into the whole casual dating thing. I had two long term relationships before I met Emily. And by long term I mean a couple of months, six at the most. Emily was my first lover, though. I just wasn’t ready before I met her. Granted I fooled around a little with the others, but nothing serious, kissing and some clothes on groping, that sort of stuff.” She nodded.

“What did your dad say when you told him?”

“Well, he was harder to convince. He was never hostile, and at first he kind of played it like it was a phase I was going through, but eventually he came around. He was pretty quiet about the whole thing until he realized that I was serious and that I had a long term girlfriend.”

“Then what?”

“Then he just pulled me aside one day asked me the required ‘you don’t like any men’ question and when I said no he admitted that as long as I was happy, he was happy. Mom is still more open about meeting the women in my life, but I guess that is normal since I was closer to her as a child. Dad just takes it all in stride, just goes with the flow; he’s more of a don’t ask don’t tell kind of guy where as mom is a bit too nosy sometimes.” I smiled, remembering how nervous I was when I first came out to my mom.

“Was it hard for you, telling them?” She asked, still picking at her lunch.

“God, I was so nervous. I think I almost threw up on my way to meet my mother for lunch that day.” I chuckled at the memory, “I asked her to meet me at a restaurant where I knew that she wouldn’t make too big of a scene. I had my whole speech planned out, but in the end I just blurted it out totally forgetting what I had originally prepared. I guess, when I think about it, I couldn’t have asked for a better reaction.”

“I don’t know how my parents will react.” Xena confessed with a shrug of her shoulders when I had finished speaking. “I guess that is one of the reasons why I have never told them. I wasn’t comfortable with myself when Sarah and I split, I felt like I had done something wrong, that I was at fault for her behavior.”

I was about to refute that statement when she held up a hand and continued speaking. “Now I know better, what she did had nothing to do with me. And over the years I have come to terms with the fact that I am gay, but when I met you was the first time I was happy about it.

I want to be with you in every way and I am not ashamed to admit that anymore. I want my parents to know that I have found someone who makes me happier than I have ever been. You are the reason I want to tell them, I want them to know the reason why I called them the other day in such a good mood that my mother didn’t even recognize my voice when she answered the phone.” I smiled broadly, pleased beyond proportion by her comment.

“Do you talk to them a lot?” I asked, trying to gauge how close my lover was to her parents.

“I talk to my mom every weekend and she usually relays my messages to dad, although sometimes I can hear him in the background.”

“So you are close then.” I commented and she nodded. “Do you think they might suspect something?”

“Probably, I mean look at me, in my thirties, never been married and I haven’t even mentioned seeing anyone to them, ever. And it’s not as if they have never asked me if I have met someone, I usually just hedge around the subject. Tell them I am too busy to be dating, or that my job takes me out of town a lot. That sort of stuff.”

“Well, then they probably have thought about it.” I agreed.

“God, thinking about telling them after all these years makes my stomach clench.” She sighed and pushed the remainder of her sandwich away from her.

“I’ll go with you if you want, but I would also understand if you wanted to tell them alone.” I reached across the table and took her hand.

“I think I should probably tell them alone, but I would like it if you came with me, we could stay at a nice bed and breakfast I know and I could just stop by the house. That way if it goes well you can meet them or if it goes badly I will already have a place to go afterwards…” She trailed off.

“That sounds wonderful. Whenever you want, just say the word and we will go.” I reassured her and she smiled gratefully at me. “For now, though, we have my mother to deal with. How do you want to do this? I would like for you to stay and meet her, but if you are really uncomfortable with it you don’t have to. I won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to do.” I watched her as she thought it over.

“What time does she arrive?” She asked after a few moments of silence. I waited on the edge of my seat, figuratively, for her to look at me. When she did I immediately felt my anxiety level drop a few notches for she no longer seemed about to bolt.

“About ten tomorrow morning. She takes the shuttle in from the airport. She says it gives her time to calm down from the irritations of flying.” I laughed and shrugged at my mother’s strange tendencies.

“Oookkaayy.” Xena dragged out the word and looked at me strangely.

“Hey, don’t ask me, she is strange, what can I say?” We laughed a bit and I guessed that we were back on level ground for the moment; I was sure, however, that as tomorrow came closer I would have to calm the skittish nature of my lover. I was right on track as over dinner Xena asked me again if I wanted her around during Mom’s visit. I assured her that I was and decided that I would tell her a little bit about the woman who raised me in attempts to prepare her for the initial meeting.

? ? ?

“Xena, can you get that? It’s probably the delivery guy with our breakfast.” I asked her as I dried myself off the next morning. After yesterday’s activities we had decided to take separate showers so that we would be ready on time for my mother’s arrival.

“Yeah sure.” I heard her call from the kitchen where she was making coffee. “How much do we owe…” I heard her ask and then fade off as she opened the door.

“You must be Xena.” I heard my mother’s voice and practically sprinted through the apartment wearing just my towel.

“MOM!” I greeted her, ushering her past my surprised and speechless lover. “You’re early; we weren’t expecting you for a bit yet.” I explained, indicating my wet hair and towel.

“Apparently.” She looked at me, her gaze lingering for a moment on the area just below my right collarbone, realizing what she was looking at I felt a blush creeping up my neck. My session with Xena in the shower the previous morning had definitely left it’s mark on me. Suddenly I felt like a teenager who had just been caught necking in the basement.

“My flight was early, for once.” She explained. “Are you going to introduce me or what?” She asked, indicating Xena who had closed the door and was standing behind me wearing just a navy t-shirt and a pair of soccer shorts, her hair was also still a bit damp from the shower. ‘At least she is not wearing a towel too.’ I said to myself, relieved.

“Yes, sorry. Mom this is Xena. Xena, this is my mother, Carol Channon.” I quickly introduced them, still blushing furiously.

“Nice to meet you.” Xena said in her melodious voice, just a hint of shyness touching the edges.

“You as well, Gabrielle has told me a bit about you. I am looking forward to learning more.” My mother took Xena’s hand and shook it, oozing her normal motherly warmth. I saw Xena relax a bit at her friendly nature. ‘Thank god!’ I too began to relax, well as much as I could standing before my mother in a towel with my new lover in not much more.

“I hope they were good things.” Xena joked a bit, showing a little of her true personality.

“Of course, dear.” My mother laughed and the ice was broken.

“Well,” I started, anxious to go get a little less naked, “there is fresh coffee in the kitchen, Mom. If you don’t mind, I think we will go get dressed. You know where the cups and stuff are.” I tossed over my shoulder as I led Xena back to the bedroom; my mom was pulled in by the promise of caffeine and made herself at home in my kitchen.

“I am SO sorry!” I apologized once we were safely closed behind my bedroom door. “I didn’t expect her so early.” I said as I reached for my brush and dropped my towel to the floor.

“You are forgiven.” I heard Xena laugh from across the room.

“What?” I asked as she continued to chuckle.

“Anytime you want to apologize you should do it just like that.” She lifted her head and indicated my state of dress. I glared at her playfully and put my hands on my bare hips.

“You are so bad.” I scolded her and tossed the brush to the bed so that I could get dressed. She wagged her eyebrows at me.

“I think she noticed the hickey.” She stated, unconsciously I placed my hand over the purple bruise. “No use in hiding it from me I’m the one who gave it to you.” She teased me.

“I remember,” I purred, “but I didn’t expect her to see it. I don’t know why I’m so embarrassed. It’s not like I’m a kid or anything.” I tried to explain.

“Well has your mother ever walked in when you and one of your previous girlfriends were so scantily clad?” She inquired.

“No, usually I am not so overt.”

“That’s it then; your mommy just got good honest proof that her little girl has sex.” She laughed when I cringed a bit at the truthfulness of her statement.

“Yeah well just remember this, Miss Smarty-pants; she has probably put it together that you gave me this.” I indicated my shoulder with my chin and my lover’s chuckles died in her throat.

“Uh, I guess I didn’t think of it in those terms.” She too now began to blush.

“So you can suffer with me.” I smiled sweetly and she tossed her t-shirt at me in retaliation.

“So, you told her about me?” She asked, changing the subject.

“Of course.” I looked up at her as I buttoned up my jeans.

“What did you say?” She asked, curiously as she too threw on a pair of comfortable jeans and a knit pullover.

“Just that I had met someone and that I was thrilled and that you were great.” I reiterated what I had said to my mother one night the previous week.

“Hmm, sounds like you embellished a bit since I know you haven’t talked to her in the past few evenings.” She laughed and walked over to where I was putting on a pair of black moccasins.

“Naw, you are all of those things, just at the time I told her all this you were hiding in that little office of yours. I knew you’d come around.” I smiled and drew her in for a quick kiss.

“Do you think she’ll like me?” She asked, her hands dug deep in her pockets, if she had dug her toe into the floor she could have been a five year old. Again with the insecurity, she was so cute.

“I know she will, now come on and be that fabulous person you are when we are alone.” I instructed and opened the bedroom door, not giving her time to comment. Off to face mom.

? ? ?

“So, Xena, what is it that you do?” My mother asked as we were waiting for our dinner to arrive later on that night. Ironically we were at the same restaurant, one booth away, from where Xena and I were seated on our first “date.”

“I am an FBI Agent.” Xena had been kind of quiet throughout the day, answering any questions Mom had thrown at her, but she didn’t offer up any extra tidbits about herself as we strolled through the mall. She was definitely still a bit hesitant with people knowing too much about her.

“That is how we met, actually.” I explained. “I was doing research for my latest book and Xena was the lead investigator in the case I was looking at.” Under the table I found her free hand and threaded my fingers through hers and squeezed gently. I couldn’t hold back a small smile when I felt her return gesture.

“What a lucky coincidence for you both I’d say.” My mother added as our meal was served.

“Yeah, I thought so. We had our first away from work meeting right here actually.”

“How do you do it, Xena?” My mother asked, “I don’t even read Gabrielle’s books because I am afraid of having nightmares afterwards.” The eldest Channon woman shuddered dramatically.

“It was hard at first, but now I mainly develop profiles. I look at crime scene photos, and while they can be graphic it’s not the same as actually being at the scene, so it is a bit easier. Mostly I don’t have any actual contact with the suspect, victim or the scene.

That was really the hardest part, coming face to face with someone who committed such terrible acts of violence and realizing that they took someone else’s life just for the pleasure of killing. Sometimes I would get so upset at the absurdity of it all.” My mother nodded sympathetically as I just listened. I don’t think Xena has spoken that much since I met her. It was clearly obvious that her work was what she was most comfortable talking about.

“That is fascinating.” My mother complimented. “So, tell me a little about yourself, Xena. My daughter has been so secretive. I practically had to force her to tell me your name over the phone.” I sighed as I watched Xena fidget ever so slightly in the booth. Apparently Mom didn’t notice for she was looking at her expectantly.

“Well, I am originally from New York, my parents still live there. I moved to DC after Graduate school to work for VICAP and I’ve been here ever since, about ten years now.” I was pretty much the same condensed version I had received from her on that first night. I could tell that my mom wanted to ask more, but before she had a chance Xena excused herself for a moment.

“She is a bit shy.” I explained as my lover headed off to the restroom.

“She is nothing like Emily.” At the sound of my ex’s name I expected to feel a pang of hurt, I was surprised when none came.

“No, nothing, but I like that about her. She’s smart, funny and believe it or not quite capable of chattiness when we’re alone.” I defended her.

“You don’t have to defend her dear; it’s obvious that she adores you.” I looked at her, surprised.

“Mom, we’ve only known each other for two weeks.” I tried to hide my own feelings, I failed.

“Gabrielle, I am you mother and I know you so don’t act as if you don’t feel the same way.” She chided me gently. “It’s been a while and it makes me happy to see you so excited about another person. Even if I had never met Xena I would like her because of the way she makes you feel. Even if you don’t realize it you have smiled and laughed more since I arrived this morning than all the other visits I have paid since you and Emily split combined. Besides, after meeting her she seems lovely, a good match for you sweetheart.” I couldn’t hide my joy at my mother’s comment so I didn’t even try.

“Thanks.” I smiled gratefully.

“I hope it works out for you both.” She finished as Xena approached and slid her long frame into booth beside me.

The rest of our meal was pretty quiet, but not the type of quiet where you feel uncomfortable; more the type when everyone is lost in their own thoughts and only makes a comment every now and then. I don’t know about the rest of my party, but I was definitely preoccupied. The whole meal I could barely concentrate on eating as I was relishing the feeling of Xena’s warm thigh pressed against mine. God she was distracting, I smiled inwardly.

? ? ?

“Look, I’m not asking you to march me into your conference room and take me on the table or anything. I understand that you want to keep your private life away from the office. It’s a ‘good ole boys’ club, I understand that, I really do,” I explained as Xena and I settled into bed after bidding my mother goodnight.

“I just want us to be able to hold hands while we are at the movies or dinner. I want to be able to touch you so that anyone else who might be looking realizes that you belong to me.” I smirked at her and she gave me a small grin. “I mean, you acted like you didn’t even want to sit close enough to touch me on the couch earlier. And we were in the privacy of the apartment, only my mother could see us.” I said a bit exasperated.

“Your mother…” She tried to explain.

“Knows about us, when she arrived I was only wearing a towel and you didn’t have much more than that on. Aside from the fact that I had already told her about you I think she would have figured it out when she saw that the guest room hadn’t been used.” I took her hand in my own and played with her fingers for a moment.

“I just want to make a good impression; I want her to like me.”

“She does, Xena.” I assured her.

“How do you know?” She asked, genuinely curious.

“She told me, at dinner, when you were in the bathroom. She is quite impressed I must say.” I smiled and she returned the expression before sighing. “What?” I coaxed gently.

“I’m glad she likes me. It’s important to me that she does.”

“Why? I mean I’m happy that you want her to like you, but I’m the one sleeping with you, why does it matter so much?” I asked as I shifted onto my side, I realized that this conversation might last for a while.

“Before today only two people in the world knew that I am gay, not including myself. And up till now I have never had a good experience with people knowing; and although I don’t consider myself to be in the closet I didn’t advertise my sexuality either.
So now that I am with you I am making an effort to be more ‘out.’ It’s just harder than I imagined, being so open, so susceptible
to rejection.” She admitted and at that point I did realize how hard she was trying. She had become much more forward with her emotions since that night we had our confrontation in the parking garage. Physically she had come one hundred and eighty degrees; Friday morning’s shower session alone was proof of that. And she had held a lengthy conversation at dinner, in a public place no less.

“I know it’s hard, I remember when I went through it. Believe it or not I was not always the sexually confident woman you see before you today. I was shy about people knowing, about strangers seeing me out in public with my girlfriend. Eventually, though, I stopped caring. As long as I was happy with my life, work, etceteras I could care less about what others thought of me.” I reassured her, knowing what a trying situation she was in.

“Well, I’m not quite at that point yet; I haven’t even told my parents and I am almost thirty-five years old.” She said dejectedly.

“I know, but look at it this way, you’re here, with me and we’re building a relationship. That wouldn’t be the case if on some level you weren’t ready to move on with your life, right?” I questioned.

“True,” she drawled in a not quite so sure voice.

“Just think of it this way, when we’re out and about imagine that there is no one around, that it is just you and me. Eventually it will get to the point where we could be in a crowd and all that matters is us.”

“When did you become so wise?” She asked, smiling.

“Oh, I dunno, somewhere along the way I guess.” I sighed dramatically before chuckling.

“I’m so glad I met you.” She admitted as she gently ran her fingers through my hair.

“Well, I would hope so, given our current state of undress.” I joked, alluding to our nudity beneath my sage colored sheets. Xena playfully lifted the soft cotton and peeked at our entwined bodies before wagging her eyebrows.

“So, what’s the plan for tomorrow?” She asked as she let the sheet fall to cover us once again.

“Hmmm,” I hummed, “probably more shopping. Mom loves those outlets and she doesn’t get out much at home.” I explained.

“Oh how I lllooovvveee shopping.” She drawled sarcastically.

“Well just think of it this way, while Mom is Christmas shopping you can help me pick out a few things for our little vacation.”
I smirked as she suddenly became more interested.

“Bathing suits?” She asked with an arched eyebrow.

“Hmmm, I was thinking about making a trip to Victoria’s Secret. Think you might want to help me out with that?” I asked and said the store name in a sing-song voice.

“I think I just found a new love of shopping.” She smiled.

“I’ll bet.” I chuckled before attempting to stifle a yawn.

“Tired?”

“Yeah, it’s all the excitement catching up with me.”

“Sleep and I promise that tomorrow you don’t have to get up before nine.” She instructed as she reached one long arm out to shut off the bedside lamp. Sighing contentedly I snuggled down into her firm body and pulled the warm comforter over us before happily submitting to sleep.

? ? ?

“No, no, no!” I moaned when a light knocking on my bedroom door awakened me far before the nine o’clock hour to which I had been promised. Xena for her part merely chuckled at me.

“Gabrielle, honey, Xena’s cell phone is ringing.” I heard my mother’s voice through the thin veneer. I felt the blankets shifting around me before Xena beckoned my mother in with the obnoxious technology in tow. I just buried my head further into my warm Xena pillow as my lover flipped open her phone and my mother discreetly left the room.

“Demakis.” She said by way of greeting. “Hey, Chris…no, no it’s ok I’m awake. No, I haven’t checked my messages since Friday…Can’t it wait?” I felt her body stiffen in annoyance. “Fine, I’ll come and pick it up and you can call and let him know he will have it by the end of the day Monday…look, that’s the best I can do, I already have plans for today and now I have to shift them back so that I can run to the office and pick up that info…See you Monday, Chris.” She finished and flipped the phone closed with a bit more force than required.

“What’s up?” I asked, refusing to let myself become too awake.

“I gotta go to the office for a few minutes.” She pouted.

“I gathered.” I snuggled deeper into her shoulder in an attempt to persuade her to stay in bed.

“Shit, I really don’t want to drive all the way to Quantico this morning. What time were you planning on leaving for the outlets?” She asked, absently stroking my shoulder with her warm hand.

“I dunno, noonish I guess.” I hummed in pleasure at the gentle caress.

“Would you really be upset if I bowed out? That way I could stay at the office a while and work on this profile and still be back in time for dinner?” She suggested.

“No, I know your work is important, but you’re gonna miss Victoria’s Secret.” I teased.

“Ohhh, not fair.” She groaned before sliding out of bed and pulling on her jeans and grabbing a t-shirt from her duffel in the corner.

“Tell you what,” I started, not bothering to pull up the tossed aside sheet, “I’ll pick you up a present.” I smiled when she nodded vigorously and bounded back into the bed.

“Oh no, no Agent Demakis, you have to go to work.” I giggled between kisses.

“One more kiss.” She prompted.

“Oh, if I must,” I played along, “but remember, don’t start something you can’t finish.”

“I promise to be back by six, the latest.” She gave me one more quick kiss before disappearing into the bathroom to brush her teeth. Sighing I realized that my dreams of sleeping in were once again going to be dashed. Tying the sash of my robe I ventured out in search of coffee.

“Looks like it’s just you and me today, Mom.” I said as I gratefully accepted the warm mug of steaming caffeine she handed to me. Taking a cautionary sip, I placed the mug on the counter and filled Xena’s travel mug, fixing the brew just as she likes it. “Xena’s gotta go to the office, but she will be back for dinner.” I stirred sugar and cream into the black liquid and snapped the lid on the stainless steel cup.

“Oh, ok. I’m sure we will get along fine, I mean it would be nice if she could join us, but I understand duty calls.” She smiled when I joined her at my small kitchen table.

Xena breezed into the room minutes later to gather up her coffee.

“Oh, you made it for me.” She said, surprised.

“Yeah.” I couldn’t help, but return the goofy smile she gave me.

“Thank you.”

“Yeah.” There goes that great writer’s vocabulary again.

“Ok, ok girls,” my mother’s voice broke us out of our little trance, “now Xena, get off to work so you can be back in time for dinner.” She gently urged my lover toward the door.

“I’ll call you on the cell a bit later.” She promised before reluctantly submitting and leaving the apartment.

“How does she ever get out of here to go to work on a weekday?” I heard my mother question as she padded back to the bathroom and turned on the shower. I fought the urge to get my phone off the charger and call those now familiar numbers of Xena’s mobile.

? ? ?

“Gabrielle? Are you here?” I heard the front door close and my lover’s familiar voice. Smiling, I practically bounded down the hallway to greet her. “Honey, I’m home.” She whispered after what easily counted as one of the top five kisses in my entire life.

“Yes you are.” I said breathlessly as I leaned in for another, but she pulled back.

“Where’s your mother?” She asked, looking around the empty apartment.

“Grocery store, just left, she should be at least an hour.” I hummed as I tilted her head to the side and ran the tip of my tongue over the soft skin of her throat. “Hmmm, sixty minutes of privacy. Oh what shall we do Agent Demakis?” I teased. She didn’t respond verbally, opting instead to wrap her arms around my waist and deposit me on the countertop. Pleasantly surprised I pulled back and saw a sexy smirk pulling at the corners of her lips. “What are you smiling about?” I inquired as I traced her lips with the tip of my finger. She playfully nipped at the end before replying.

“Oh, nothing, just that I can think of a few things, all of which would be incredibly,” she paused, her eyes flashing, “satisfying.”
I quirked an eyebrow at her.

“Bring it on, Baby.” I invited and instantly her lips were sealing with mine, her tongue sliding hotly over my own. I shivered involuntarily when she brushed the tip over the roof of my mouth. Xena wasted little time, her hands leaving my waist to brush over my clothed breasts. Even through my shirt and bra her touch was electric. I moaned loudly when she rubbed her palms over my already hardened nipples. As our kiss ended I opened my eyes to see my lover looking at where her hands were palming my chest. I smiled at her slightly puzzled expression.

“What?” I couldn’t help, but smile.

“Something’s different.” She said.

“Oh really, and are you the expert on my breasts these days?” I couldn’t help it; she looked so cute trying to figure out what was strange about my chest.

“No, I mean, well yeah I guess. It’s just, they feel a bit different.” She tried to explain.

“Well, Ms. Investigator, why don’t you dig a little deeper into this mystery.” I offered, shrugging I reached to the hem of my
t-shirt and yanked it up over my head. Xena let out a low wolf-whistle as I tossed the soft cotton to the kitchen floor.

“That’s…” She trailed off as she softly ran her fingers over the upper swells of my breasts. They were more exposed than usual thanks to the black push-up bra I was wearing. The result, tons of cleavage.

“You like?” I asked needlessly, I could tell by the admiration that shone in her eyes that she did.

“Very much, new?” She questioned as her hands once again began massaging my flesh.

“Yeah, one of Victoria’s secrets.” I groaned as the sensation of smooth satin, warmed by Xena’s hands assaulted my pebbled nipples. Enjoying the reaction she was getting, she lightly pinched the turgid tips.

“Are there anymore presents under there?” She asked huskily as one hand abandoned my chest to pluck at the waistband of my jeans.

“Why don’t you unwrap me and find out.” I suggested with a sigh. Knowing we had precious little time anyway Xena wasted not a second of it. Fortunately I was barefoot, so when she undid the button fly of my pants and began to pull them off she didn’t have to waste a moment on shoelaces and socks. My panties were the same material as the bra, but knowing that my lover wouldn’t be able to appreciate the full value of my “outfit” while I was sitting on the counter I hopped off.

“Remind me to thank Victoria.” She drawled sexily when I grabbed her wrists and placed her hands on the bare skin of my ass.
I smiled when she gave a quick peek over my shoulder, her eyebrows wagging at me when she returned. “Easy access, I like it.” She commented as her hands flexed against me.

“They are a time saver really.” I reasoned.

“Indeed.” She agreed.

“Now it’s your turn.” I informed her as I popped free the two buttons on her shirt.

“Why Gabrielle, are you saying you want me naked too?” She teased, but began pulling her shirt over her head.

“Less talk, more stripping, time’s a’wasting Agent.” I commanded lightly. Unbuckling her belt I deftly slipped the button free and reached into her pants. Grasping her own highly toned derrière I tsked low in my throat.

“Now now, no thong, Xena?” I mewed with a mock pout.

“Sorry.” She mumbled an apology as she deftly released the rear clasp of my bra, freeing my breasts for her attentions.

“Mmmm, you’re forgiven.” I moaned when she raked her teeth lightly over my nipple before taking the nub into her mouth and sucking firmly. Releasing the satin undergarment to join my shirt on the floor I once again felt her hands on my ass. Alternating between breasts now, I barely noticed when her fingers traced increasingly lower circles until I felt one tapered finger brush softly over my satin covered sex. The dual assault sent a shockwave of arousal through my center that almost made my knees buckle.

“You’re so wet.” Xena breathed before lifting her head to kiss me again.

“I was thinking about you touching me…ahh…ever since I put this on.” I stuttered a bit when I felt her brush aside the thin fabric of my panties and her fingers begin to caress my outer folds. This time my knees did buckle, fortunately she had a free arm and she used it to keep me standing.

“Oooh, it’s gonna be a quick one, huh?” She asked, her increased breathing belaying her own heightened arousal despite the calm tone.

“Yeah, sorry.” I apologized and she shook her head.

“Don’t be. Turn around.” She whispered into my ear before giving the lobe a sharp nip. Crying out at the unexpected action I couldn’t help, but do as she requested. Taking one of my hands in hers she placed it on the edge of the counter, reflexively my other hand followed suit. “Hang on.” She instructed before pulling back.

“Ahh, much better.” She purred when her body pressed up against mine a moment later. We both groaned at the sensation of her naked chest rubbing along my back, her tight nipples digging into my shoulder blades.

“Pants?” I breathed heavily when I noticed she hadn’t removed them.

“No time, not easy access.” She explained in passion roughened voice. I was about to protest when it died in my throat as her hand snaked its way down my abdomen and into the top of my underwear.

“God…yesssss…” I moaned when she began caressing my sex more firmly, her fingers easily sliding through my wetness, dipping deeper to rub against my inner folds, just missing my rapidly expanding clit. Reflexively I began to grind my hips against her most welcome digits.

“That’s it…yeah, ride my hand, Baby.” She panted into my ear, her warm breath tickling my skin. “You’re so hot and wet. I wanna be inside you so badly. Do you want me inside you, Gab-ri-elle?” She drew out my name into a low, sexy purr and I practically came right on the spot.

“Ungh…yes…inside.” I managed to respond. “XENA!!! God!” I groaned loudly when I felt two fingers plunge into my depths. Seeking deeper contact I pushed back against her hand.

“GAB-RI-ELLE!” My lover moaned throatily and pressed her own hips harder against me. I moaned again when I felt her most skin against my backside with each thrust.

“Jesus, Xena!” I cursed when I realized what she was doing. Somehow she had managed to drop her pants just enough to press her own heated sex against the firm muscle of my ass. She was seeking out her own pleasure as she expertly fondled me, rapidly pushing me toward release.

“Keep…ahhh…doing that.” She encouraged between moans. ‘Like I could stop!’ Her thumb then joined in the action, rubbing hard against my throbbing clit with each thrust of her fingers inside me.

“Yes…Xena…I’m…close.” I panted, shifting my legs just a bit to give her more room. I could feel the orgasm beginning to coil in my belly and I knew it would only take one or two more hard thrusts and I would be there. In my passion induced haze I hoped that Xena was as close as I was. In between our moans I could hear our bodies sliding together and that combined with one hard press against my clit and I shattered.

“Xeeennnaahhh!” I screamed as I felt my inner walls clamp down on her fingers.

“God, Gabrielle…yes…yes…yes…” I heard her groan as she thrusted erratically against me a few more times. I could tell by the way her breathing was catching that she too had come. Surprisingly, my arms held and I was able to prevent myself from smacking my head on the countertop. Closing my eyes I tried to catch my breath, Xena, it seemed was attempting to do the same as she hadn’t moved from against me. It wasn’t long before the sound of keys jingling in the hallway outside my door pulled me from my post-orgasmic haze.

“Shit!” I cursed when I realized that my mother was just outside the door and here we were standing mostly naked in the kitchen. “My mom’s back!” I whispered harshly as I pushed back from the counter and spun around.

“What?” Xena questioned, a look of panic taking over her face when she looked down at our state of dress.

“Bedroom, quick!” I suggested, reaching blindly for the pile of clothing on the floor. Grabbing my lover by the wrist I tugged her back through the hallway as the door opened.

“Gabrielle, I’m back.” I heard my mother call over the crinkling of paper bags.

“Be right there.” I called, trying to sound as normal as possible before shutting the bedroom door. Sighing with relief I leaned back against it, I couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped when I looked at my lover. Xena was topless, her hair all disheveled and she was trying to pull up and fasten her pants. Her gaze met mine and I noticed the panic was fading, being replaced by a look of amusement the longer I laughed.

“What?” She asked, trying to keep a straight face.

“That was close.” I shook my head. “We are sooo bad.”

“Think she saw us?” Xena asked as she pulled her bra and polo out of the clothing pile.

“I don’t know, but I don’t think…” I was cut off by a quick knock on the door.

“Gabrielle, dear, I think you might need this.” The door opened up a crack and my mother stuck her arm through. Instantly I felt my face heating, hanging from her hand was my bra. ‘Uh oh, busted!’

“Uh, thanks.” It was the only think I could think of to say and somehow it came out sounding extremely guilty. My mother laughed and re-closed the door.

“Oh, and Xena?” She called out.

“Yeah?” I watched as she cringed in preparation.

“Nice ass, dear.” She laughed and I could hear her walking back down the hall toward the kitchen. Well, at least now her complexion matched mine.

? ? ?

After much coaxing and prodding, I finally convinced Xena to leave the bedroom. I reasoned that even though it was quite embarrassing neither one of us was going to die from my mother catching us having sex. And while the two of us spent most of dinner extremely red-faced my mother was having a great time teasing us. And as we stood at her gate the next evening it was apparent that she wasn’t through.

“Well girls, I just can’t wait to tell Gabrielle’s father ALL about my trip to the city.” She teased and I felt my face reddening all over.

“Mother, you wouldn’t.” I protested, well almost pleaded.

“No, no, of course not. I just love to tease you. Really, I had a wonderful time. And Xena, it was lovely meeting you. I hope that you and Gabrielle plan on coming up to New Hampshire for the holidays? I know Gabrielle’s father would love to meet you, as well as the rest of the family.” She hinted.

“It was nice meeting you too, Carol. And I will try and see to it that we can at least make it up for a few days.” Xena promised as she was engulfed in a big hug which she returned only slightly uncomfortably. My mom was nonplussed by Xena’s slightly less than enthusiastic reaction. It had taken her at least ten reminders to get my lover to just call her Carol and she pretty much figured that it would take at least one more meeting before Xena was completely comfortable with her.

“I’ll call you this weekend, ok.” She promised me before pulling me in for a hug. “She’s wonderful.” She whispered in my ear before giving me a quick kiss on the cheek. I couldn’t help, but smile at her compliment. I was inanely glad that she and Xena seemed to be hitting it off.

“Have a safe flight, ok.” I told her as they began calling for general boarding. She nodded and gathered up her carry-on bag. Waving to us she handed over her boarding pass to the attendant and headed down the ramp. Smiling I watched as she disappeared down the tunnel. When she was finally out of sight I turned to my lover who wore a small smile of her own.

“What is that all about?” I questioned her.

“Oh, nothing, I just had a good time while she was here. Thank you for sharing that with me.” She took my hand and gave it a brief squeeze before letting go.

“You’re welcome.” I beamed at her, happy about the compliment and the small gesture of affection, in public no less. “Now, let’s go home, I hear an empty apartment calling our name.” I laughed at her enthusiastic nod and turned to lead her out to the parking garage. Between our rocky beginning and my mother’s visit we hadn’t had any time to just relish being alone together. I for one was looking forward to it and by the way Xena was practically running through the airport I guessed she was too. I hoped we could make it back to the apartment before things got too steamy. ‘Awww, what the hell, you are only in your thirties once right?’
Chapter 3
Families and Old Flames
“I was thinking about going to New York this upcoming weekend.” Xena said almost casually one night after dinner. We had been talking about my book, I was telling her that the initial writing was about halfway done and that I needed to make an appointment to go over the first fifteen or so chapters with my editor when she suddenly changed conversational directions.

“Well, that was an unexpected change of direction.” I laughed as I plopped down next to her on the couch, tucking my legs up underneath me. Xena merely shrugged. “What brought this on?” I questioned her.

“I went to my apartment on the way home from work Friday and I had several messages from my mom. She was concerned that I hadn’t called her in a couple of weeks and that I was never home when she tried to get a hold of me. I think it’s time.” She explained simply.

“Are you ready for that?” I asked. Xena had come a long way in the two and a half months that we had been together. She had survived a somewhat embarrassing visit by my mother very early into our relationship and she was beginning to become more comfortable with showing affection in public, but was she ready to explain to her parents that she was, for all intents and purposes, living with another woman?

“As I’ll ever be, I guess.” She admitted. “I mean, Friday was the first time I had been back to my place in over two weeks. I want them to know where I am, how they can get in touch with me, aside from my work number.” She paused for a minute, “and I want them to meet you.”

“I would like to meet them, too.” I said sincerely. “Also, it would be nice to have someone to tell me embarrassing stories about your youth so that when my mom launches into yet another story about me I can have some ammunition to fight back with.” I teased her.

“Is it my fault that she called one day while you were out and simply INSISTED that she tell me about that little skinny dipping incident?” She asked, trying her best to look as innocent as possible.

“Yes.” I pouted for a minute. “She should have asked me first.”

“Awww, poor baby.” She soothed, pulling me to lean against her lanky frame. “I think it’s unbearably sexy. All I have to do is imagine you naked in that hot tub and I get all tingly inside.” She drawled into my ear and I failed to suppress a shiver.

“You know I wasn’t alone in there.” I reminded her, still a bit embarrassed that my mom had revealed that little bit of my sexual past to my lover.

“Yeah, well I’ve pretty much repressed that part. In my mind you are all alone, just waiting for me, all hot and wet.” She husked.

“God, Xena!” I sighed, feeling a slight tingling of my own as I imagined the two of us in the hot tub behind my parent’s house. Steam rising off the water and Xena’s hands dipping below the bubbling water to touch my… ‘Stop!’ I chastised myself mentally. Here my lover was, trying to let me know that she wanted to finally tell her parents that she is gay and I am conjuring up sexual fantasies. I gave myself a good internal shake and tried to focus on the subject at hand.

“So you wanna go home this weekend?” I steered the conversation back into cooler waters, so to speak.

“Yeah.” She sighed deeply, wrapping her long arms around my waist and positioning us so that I was leaning back against her chest, my legs stretched out between hers. “Can you get away?” She asked hopefully, her chin resting on my shoulder.

“Yeah, sure. I’ll just call my editor next week, that’s not a problem.”

“I’ll make reservations at the inn this week then. I figure I can take half a day off Friday and we can head up, it takes about six hours to get there. And we can spend the weekend, coming back on Monday afternoon since I already have that day off. Sound good?” She questioned and I nodded.

“You going to tell them that you’re coming?” I asked, turning my head to the side so I could see her face.

“No, I think it would be best if I just showed up. Otherwise they are going to expect me to stay at the house and if things don’t go well then we are going to need another place to crash.” She explained.

“Won’t they think that’s strange, you just showing up at the door unexpectedly?”

“Probably, but not much about my life is crystal clear to them anyway, so they will just chalk it up to another one of my quirks. Besides it’s not as if I am going up there just for a friendly visit. They will know something’s up as soon as I walk in the door.” She reasoned.

“Big decision.” I sighed and squeezed her hand.

“Yeah, but at least if they disown me or something I have you to come back to. It’s been a long time since I have been able to say that; that someone besides my family cared about me.”

“I’ll always be here for you, and I do care about you, very much, Xena.” I admitted.

“I know, but hearing you say it makes it more real.” She smiled softly and I couldn’t resist placing a small kiss on her upturned lips.

“Come on.” I said standing and pulling her to her feet along side of me.

“Where we goin’?” She asked.

“It’s late, let’s go to bed.” I gently pulled on her hand, urging her to follow me. She didn’t resist.

“I’m not tired.” She whined, playfully wrapping an arm around my waist and pulling my body back into her much taller one.

“Who said I was?” I teased and smiled when she arched one dark eyebrow.

“Lead on then.” She released me with a knowing grin and eagerly followed me back into the bedroom, kicking the door shut behind us.

? ? ?

I could tell Xena was nervous as we navigated the scenic highway up to Albany four days later. Her fingers insistently tapping on the leather steering wheel of her Volvo was one of the more outward signs. She had been increasingly quiet as the week had progressed and I decided not to push her too much, I knew that she was trying to figure out what to tell her parents when she arrived and now that we where less than thirty minutes away from her hometown she had dropped her speed from about ten miles over the posted speed limit to exactly sixty-five. I think she would have gone slower if the traffic around us wasn’t passing her navy sedan at every opportunity.

“It will be ok.” I tried to soothe her, taking her drumming fingers into my own and resting our entwined hands on her denim clad thigh.

“Huh?” She asked, eloquently. I could tell she had been absorbed in her own thoughts for a while now.

“You were going to wear holes in the leather if you kept on with that tapping.” I teased gently and I watched as she realized what I had been talking about.

“Sorry,” she smiled sheepishly, “I guess I am more nervous than I thought.” She explained.

“You don’t need to be sorry, I understand.” I explained, not mentioning that I had noticed her speed decrease. “Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?” I asked her and she shook her head.

“No, I think this is something I need to do on my own, but thank you.” She gave my hand a squeeze. “We can get settled at the inn and then I will head over and tell them tonight, I think I want to get it over with.” She said as she steered the car off of the highway and onto the exit ramp that lead us toward the north side of the state capital.

“Ok, but you know that if you need me I will find a way to get over there.”

“I know.” She whispered, and turned her full attention back to the road ahead of us.

An hour later Xena was pulling her black leather jacket back on and gathering her keys from on top of the entertainment center that dominated one wall of our spacious room. Watching her from my position on the end of the king-sized bed my heart ached. She was fidgeting as she checked her hair in the mirror and ran her fingers through her bangs. She wasn’t even this nervous when we had our little run-in at the FBI parking garage after I had kissed her.

“Well…” She sighed deeply.

“Good luck.” I said softly as I rose from the bed and wrapped her in what I hoped was a comforting hug, my arms sliding around her waist, beneath her coat.

“Thanks, hopefully I won’t need it.” She returned my embrace and I smiled when I felt her place a kiss on the top of my head.

“Call me when you are on your way back and I will order us some dinner, ok?” I straightened out her shirt where my hug had wrinkled it a bit.

“I will.” She promised and gave me nervous grin before turning and walking out of the room. Feeling a sympathetic flutter in my stomach I returned to the bed and flipped on the TV in hopes of finding something to distract me until Xena returned.

? ? ?

The two hours between Xena leaving the room and my cell phone chirping seemed like an eternity. Just my luck there had been practically nothing of entertainment value on any of the hotel provided eighty channels. I was practically sitting on pins and needles waiting for my lover to call me. Flying off the bed at first ring I glanced at the clock as I flipped open the phone, it was nearly eight thirty.

“Xena?” I said by way of a greeting.

“Yeah, it’s me. I’m on my way back.” She said and I tried to determine how her meeting had gone by the tone of her voice. I couldn’t tell, she just sounded tired.

“What happened, are you ok?” I asked, concerned.

“Yeah, I’m alright. I’ll tell you all about it when I get there.” She explained.

“Want me to order some dinner?” I asked, not really feeling hungry although I had been famished before the phone rang.

“Ok, just order me a burger or something.”

“I’ll see you when you get here then.” I said softly as I fiddled with a pen that was on the long dresser.

“I’m only about ten minutes away.”

“See you then.”

“Ok, bye.” I bid her goodbye and pressed the disconnect button on the phone. Absently I placed a call to room service and ordered two burgers, fries and a couple of beers. Just in case.

Almost exactly ten minutes later I heard Xena slide her key-card into the door. Jumping to my feet I waited near the entry. The moment she walked in I noticed that her eyes were red-rimmed, she had been crying. Before the door had even closed behind her I was pulling her into an embrace, my own eyes stinging with tears. We hugged quietly for a few moments and as I pulled back I noticed that I wasn’t the only one whose tears went unchecked.

“Oh, Xena.” I sighed, brushing lightly at the wet trails on her cheeks. Taking her hand I led her to sit on the bed and I positioned myself so that I was standing between her knees.

“How did it go?” I chanced to ask, automatically thinking the worst because of her emotional state.

“They want to meet you.” She said, the smallest of smiles tugging at the corners of her lips despite the new set of tears that rolled down her cheeks. I let out the breath I was unaware that I had been holding.

“God, Xena,” I paused, gathering my thoughts, “I thought, because you had been crying, that they had…” I couldn’t finish not even wanting to consider that my lover’s parents had been cruel to her.

“No, no…they were alright. You were right, they had suspected, just never brought it up, I guess they were afraid that if they asked then it would be true.” She reasoned.

“Are they disappointed?”

“Not disappointed, relieved I guess.” She tried to explain.

“Relieved?” I asked.

“Yeah, relieved that I finally told them why I have been so distant since I graduated from college. They were hurt when I didn’t let them in on what was bothering me. I had always had an open relationship with them and then I just shut down. They were confused. They understand now why I never told them anything about my life. I think they accepted the fact that I might be gay years ago and were just waiting for me to confirm their suspicions. So it wasn’t the shock I thought it might be. I guess it helps that we aren’t really a religious family, they don’t have any deep-seeded beliefs about it either way.” She paused when there was a knock on the door. Moving from my spot I opened the door and paid for our dinner. Xena joined me at the small table and we continued talking once we had started eating.

“What did they say, when you told them?” I asked as I took a bite of French-fry.

“Ahh, not much really. They asked how long I had known, and why I didn’t tell them sooner.” She shrugged.

“What did you say?” I was curious.

“That I was uncomfortable with it; that I was struggling with my sexuality when I graduated and that I basically shut myself off from the world once I started working, but that I had met someone and I wanted them to meet you; that you make me happier than I have been in a long, long time.” She reached across the table and squeezed my fingers; I felt tears threatening to fall once again.

“I’m glad, Xena. I’m glad that they were understanding and accepting, and you make me incredibly happy as well.” I confessed, feeling the nervousness that I had been feeling since we left Georgetown fading away.

“They want us to go over for breakfast in the morning. You up for that?” She asked and I laughed. “What?” She cocked her head in a most endearing way.

“Am ‘I’ up for that, Xena it’s me who should be asking that question of you. Are you ready for that?” I asked and she nodded.

“Gabrielle, if they don’t like you than they wouldn’t like anyone I happened to bring home.” She said and I felt a blush at her implied compliment. “So yes, I am ready. I don’t think it will be one hundred percent comfortable, but I know that I will try and make it easier on all of us.”

“What time’s breakfast?” I asked in between bites.

“It’s more like brunch, I told my mom we would be there at elevenish. That way we can sleep in.” She winked at me.

“You are fabulous.” I smiled brightly; she knew I hated to be up before nine on the weekends.

“I know.” I laughed when she blew on her fingernails and polished them on her shirt.

“So, why the tears, if things went so well?” I asked sometime later when we were snuggled up together in the large soft bed.

“Relief, I guess. I was so nervous when my mom answered the door tonight. And then they were so happy to see me and I just felt awful, knowing that the reason I was there was to basically turn their world around. When my dad asked me what the occasion was, why I showed up unannounced I just started to cry.”

“They must have been confused.” I ran my fingers gently over her face, remembering how I felt when she came into the room and I realized she had been crying.

“Yeah, they were. They thought I had lost my job or that someone had died. Eventually I managed to get it together and I just blurted it all out. Basically it came out as MomDadI’mgayandI’vemetsomeoneandIwantyoutomeether.” She laughed and I chuckled as well.

“Yep, I remember that well, it’s about how I told my mom, almost the exact same words.” I chuckled a bit more at the memory. “I bet that wasn’t quite what they expected.”

“No, they just looked at me for a few minutes, not saying anything and then my mom was like ‘okaaayyy.’ And then they pretty much launched into the why didn’t you tell us soon speech. I explained it all as best as I could and when we were finished I was surprised when I looked at my watch and realized that almost two hours had passed. I told them that I had to get back, that you were waiting. Mom was a bit upset that I hadn’t brought you with me; that I had left you here in a hotel in a strange town. I explained that I felt I needed to speak with them alone first and then she asked me if we would come over for brunch.” She finished with a yawn.

“You should sleep; it’s been a long day.” I urged, tucking the blankets more firmly around us and flipping off the bedside lamp.

“A good day.” She mumbled and I agreed. As we lay there, slowly drifting off to sleep I thought about Xena’s parents and how our brunch with them tomorrow would go. For Xena’s sake, I hoped that they liked me and that they were as open-minded as they had made my lover believe. I guess I would find out soon enough.

? ? ?

“Mom, Dad?” Xena called out as she led me into a moderately sized Tudor-style house.

“In the kitchen Xena.” I heard a female voice call out. Giving me a quick, encouraging smile, my lover took my coat and hung it in a small closet before she took my hand and led me down a short hallway into a modernly furnished kitchen. I don’t know what I expected my lover’s mother to look like, but it certainly wasn’t an almost carbon-copy of the tall FBI Agent. Although Xena lacked the few gray hairs and was an inch or two taller she mirrored the elder Demakis female.

“Good morning, Mom.” Xena let go of my hand and walked over to where her mother was standing behind a butcher block island and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.

“Same to you dear, now are you going to introduce me or must I do it myself?” She asked, her warm blue eyes coming to rest on me, suddenly I felt the nervous stomach twitch of the night before return with a vengeance.

“Of course,” my lover held out her hand and I took it willingly, drawing strength from her seeming ease with the situation. “Mom, this is Gabrielle Channon. Gabrielle, my mother Alexandra.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Demakis, Xena speaks very highly of you and her father.” I reached out and took her offered hand, feeling her firm handshake.

“Please, call me Alexandra and it’s nice to meet you as well, Gabrielle. I can’t believe that this daughter of mine didn’t bring you with her last night. I scolded her about her manners, leaving you alone in a strange town.” She said warmly, with a hint of teasing and I couldn’t help, but feel a bit more relaxed. At least I hadn’t stuttered.

“Where’s Dad?” My lover asked.

“I sent him to the store for some hot rolls.”

“You could have called; we would have picked some up on our way over.” Xena told her mother.

“Yes I could have, but then I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of meeting Gabrielle and having a few moments to talk to you girls alone first.” She smiled at her daughter and patted her gently on the arm. “Now, would you like some coffee?” She asked, already retrieving three cups from one of the cabinets. Agreeing heartily we fixed the caffeinated beverage and with warm mugs in hand we all settled down at the kitchen table.

“So Gabrielle, tell me how did you and my daughter meet, since Xena has barely told us anything about you and I assume that she knows more than just your name after all of the time the hasn’t been spending at her apartment lately.” She teased and I felt a blush similar to Xena’s color my cheeks at what her mother was implying, truth or not.

“Well, I was doing research for a book when I approached the FBI for an interview. Xena just happened to be the lead investigator on the case I was interested in. It all went from there, I guess.” I tried to explain after taking a second to get a handle on the blush, leaving out the parts about the first few skittish meetings between the dark-haired FBI agent and myself.

“So you are a writer then?” She questioned.

“Yes, I write fiction novels.”

“Wait…Channon, that name sounds familiar now…you write crime novels!” I smiled as I saw recognition flash over Alexandra’s face. “I’ve read your books, they are wonderful! Xena, you didn’t tell me that she was a famous author!” She gently slapped her daughter on the arm. Xena merely chuckled.

“Does it matter?”

“No, of course not, but at least then I wouldn’t have suddenly sounded like an idiot when I made the connection.” I smiled as my lover laughed.

“Mom, this is Gabrielle Channon, the famous author.” Xena re-introduced us playfully.

“Stop teasing your mother, Xena.” I chided her, but I couldn’t keep the edges of my mouth from turning up into a small smile.

“Thank you, Gabrielle.” Alexandra said as she gently swatted her daughter’s hand. “Now, since Xena seems content to keep you a mystery how about you tell me about yourself while we wait for Xena’s father to get back.” She smiled warmly and I nodded, deciding that I liked Alexandra Demakis, for through her I could see where my lover got her personality.

? ? ?

“So, what do you want to do now?” Xena asked as we settled into her car and headed out of her parent’s driveway.

“Mmmm, I think I need to walk off a bit of that meal. Your mother is a wonderful cook.” I groaned, patting my abdomen.

“We can do that. How do you feel about outlet malls?” She asked, with a smirk.

“Shopping? You want to go shopping?” I asked, surprised.

“Sure, it’s a nice day and besides outlets mix shopping and strolling all in one. I think it’s a ruse to lure in the unsuspecting mall hater, but I’m game if you are.” She raised one eyebrow in question.

“Hey, a girl knows better than to turn down a shopping invite. How far is it?” I asked, already getting excited by the possible bargains to be found.

“Twenty minutes or so.” She replied as she pulled onto a busier highway. “Oh, and I know for a fact that there is a Yankee Candle somewhere amongst the throngs of stores. I know how much you love to stockpile those things.” She teased.

“Hey,” I protested weakly, “those candles come in handy, what if there were to be a power outage; it’s always good to be prepared.” I tried lamely to excuse my candle fetish.

“Uh huh.” She tossed me a grin before turning her attention back to the road.

“Besides, those candles come in pretty handy when one certain FBI agent I know decides that she wants to create her own little oasis in the shower.” I teased, blushing a bit as I remembered one particularly steamy evening involving a couple of Midnight Storm candles, a steamy bathroom and a really plush bath mat.

“Yeah, well, I never said I didn’t like having all of those options at my fingertips.” She husked as she slid her hand from the gearshift and lightly drew her fingertips up my thigh. I couldn’t stop the shiver even if I had wanted to.

“Maybe we can find a couple of good ones and test them out later. After all, it would be a shame to waste that big old bed back in the room.” I teased her.

“Yankee Candle here we come.” She sing-songed as she deftly maneuvered the car into a parking spot and turned off the engine. I couldn’t help but smile when Xena took my hand in hers as we exited and headed toward the outlets.

“What?” She asked innocently when she caught me glancing at our intertwined fingers.

“Nothing.” I smiled, giving her hand a brief squeeze and tugging her toward the first store.

? ? ?

I was standing waiting for the food order I had placed to come up when I heard a foreign, feminine voice speak my lover’s name. Curious to who she had met up with I moved so that I could see her where she was reclining on a bench, waiting for me. I was a bit surprised to see a rather tall, lanky red-head standing just to the side of Xena.

“What a surprise, the Xena I knew would never be caught holding a shopping bag, let alone lounging around an outlet mall.”

“Yeah well things change.” Xena explained, a touch of hardness in her voice. I was even more curious as to who this woman was after I heard my lover’s tone.

“Not that much, you are as statuesque as ever.”

“You look well, Sarah.” Xena said although I could tell that she was merely being polite. Gathering up my order I edged just a bit closer although not close enough for Xena to see me, I wanted to watch her interact with whom I assumed to be the same Sarah that had broken her heart over a decade earlier.

“I didn’t realize you were still living in Albany.” Sarah said.

“I don’t, I’m just here visiting my parents.” Xena’s responses were short and to the point.

“Oh, where are you living these days? In the city?” She asked with a bit too much interest for my liking.

“No, we live in D.C.” I smiled when I caught the very obvious we in her explanation. Sarah obviously caught it too.

“We? So you are dating someone?”

“Yes, what did you think, that after you I would pine away never finding someone to fill your shoes?” Xena asked with a bit more venom than before.

“I want to apologize for that, Xena. What I did to you was wrong, I should have never hurt you that way, I should have told you about Lisa, not let you find out the way you did.” Sarah tried to explain.

“Yeah well, times change, people change, I’ve moved on with my life.” Xena shrugged her shoulders as if to say, ‘so what, I got over it,’ although I knew first hand that her experience with the red-head had scarred her deeply. It had taken her years to get over Sarah’s infidelity and we had almost lost the chance of being together because of Xena’s hesitance to get involved with someone intimately for fear of being hurt again.

“So I see, so how long are you in town for?” Sarah deftly changed the subject. Avoiding, what I assume, was any further attempt at pointing out her shortcomings while she was in college.

“An extended weekend.” She said simply. I rolled my eyes at Xena’s obvious lack of interest in the woman before her.

“Well, maybe we can get together, for drinks or something.” I bristled at the tone Sarah was suddenly using. The way she said ‘or something’ really raised my hackles, it was a blatant come on and it took all I had not to walk up and sit down next to Xena on that bench, just to see how the tall woman would react.

“I don’t think so, Sarah.” I nodded my head smartly at my lover’s reply. ‘Damn straight, like she would make that mistake again.’ I reasoned to myself.

“Oh, come on, you aren’t in D.C. now, your little friend never has to know, just a friendly dinner.” She attempted to persuade. Ok, now I was getting pissed.

“Gabrielle, her name is Gabrielle and she is not my ‘little friend,’ she is my girlfriend and I don’t work that way, never have.”
I mentally high-fived my lover. ‘You go Xena, and take that, bitch.’ I thought with pride.

“Well in case you change you mind.” Sarah replied and began digging her purse for what I assume was something to write her number on.

“Ok, that’s enough. I guess some people can’t take a hint.” I said to myself as I approached the two women. Xena saw me almost immediately after I exited the little restaurant I was in. I winked at her and I saw her visibly relax. “Hey Babe, I got your dinner.” I said sweetly, taking a seat immediately next to my lover. Glancing up at Sarah I could tell that she was surprised that I had accompanied Xena to her hometown.

“Gabrielle, this is Sarah. Sarah this is Gabrielle Channon.” Xena introduced us as she threaded the fingers of her left hand through my right.

“Nice to meet you Sarah.” I said as I placed what I hoped to be a genuine looking smile on my face.

“You too, Xena was just telling me about you, how you live in Washington. Do the two of you live close to each other?” She asked me and I mentally rolled my eyes, ‘God this woman is a Bitch!’ I once again thought.

“Actually yes, close enough in fact that we share the same apartment.” I played along and I felt Xena squeeze my fingers. I knew that I was being a smart ass, but I couldn’t help it. I didn’t like this woman for what she did to Xena and for what she was attempting to do to me before I made my presence known. I felt a bit victorious when Sarah failed to mask her surprise momentarily.

“Xena didn’t tell me that the two of you lived together, how nice.” She gave me a fake smile. “So Xena, have you stopped by to see your parents? They still living in that house on Bradly St.?” She turned her attention back to her former girlfriend and asked with a touch of malice.

“Actually we just had breakfast with Alexandra and Hal this morning isn’t that right Xena?” I quickly deflated any sort of plot Sarah was attempting to create. She knew that Xena was in the closet back when they were in college and apparently assumed that she remained there. I knew how Xena had struggled with telling her family and now that she had, I wasn’t going to allow this woman to try and bully her.

“Yeah, Mom was glad to finally get us up here, what with work being so hectic and all.” Xena played along and I was grateful.
I could tell that Sarah was beginning to squirm as she checked her watch uncomfortably.

“Well,” she sighed, “I have to be getting along, but it was nice to see you again Xena. And if you are ever in town for a few days drop me a line so we can catch up.” She handed Xena a business card and without even a look in my direction walked away. I scowled at her as she retreated into the crowd in the courtyard.

“No offense, Xena, but I really don’t like that woman.” I said as I began to eat my dinner.

“No, I can’t imagine that you would after that. Not that I wanted you to anyway.” My lover laughed as she began unwrapping her meal.

“Can you imagine the nerve, to come on to someone after she has blatantly told you that she was seeing someone?” I questioned, shaking my head in disbelief.

“Were you spying on us?” She asked teasingly, bumping her shoulder into mine.

“NO! I mean no, I just happened to overhear her invitation.” I said a bit more defensively than I intended. I knew I had been caught.

“Hey, I was just kidding its ok; I would have done the same thing.” She informed me and I felt my defensiveness leave as quickly as it came.

“Sorry, I just don’t like the fact that after what she did to you she has the nerve to hit on you.” I explained sheepishly.

“Well thank you for defending my honor. My hero.” Xena teased and I couldn’t help but laugh. We finished our dinner over pleasant conversation and as I gathered up the trash I smiled when I saw Xena crumple up the card Sarah had given her and toss it into the pile.

“What?” She asked when she noticed my smile.

“Nothing, nothing.” I sighed and kissed her quickly on the head as I crossed the courtyard to the trash bin. “Ready?” I asked, holding out my hand to her.

“Yeah.” She replied and accepted my offer of a help up from the low sitting bench. Gathering up our purchases we headed off toward the parking lot, having finished perusing the quaint shops.

? ? ?

“Gabrielle, I’m gonna run down to the vending machine and get a Coke. You want one?” Xena asked me through the bathroom door.

“Yeah, get me one too, and when you get back come in here.” I requested as I checked the temperature of the bath I was running. The hotel room had come with a rather large garden tub, complete with Jacuzzi jets and after our little run in with Sarah the afternoon before I began planning a scene that would make Xena forget all about her former girlfriend. It had taken me all day to come up with my little scheme and now as I stripped off the shorts, tank and boots I had worn while Xena and I romped along some of her favorite old hiking spots I couldn’t help but smile. This was going to be good.

Satisfied that the water was hot enough and the bubbles sufficient enough I turned off the water, placed a few of the jar candles I had bought on the vanity and flipped off the lights just to add ambiance. Smiling at my handiwork I settled in the tub, just waiting for Xena to return with our drinks.

“Gab, I’ve got your dri…” Xena trailed off as she entered the bathroom and took in the scene. The candles were lit and I was reclined in the tub, the water/bubble combo just high enough to cover my breasts. “What’s all this?” She asked with a curious smile.

“Why don’t you hit play on that CD player, put those in the sink and come find out.” I beckoned with a tilt of my head. Xena didn’t have to be asked twice, she quickly deposited the Cokes she was holding and began undressing as she made her way over to the vanity. She tossed a grin in my direction when she hit play on the stereo and Josh Groban’s voice filled the spacious bathroom.

“My favorite.”

“I know.” I replied, scooting back a bit to make room for her in the more than large enough tub. “Now, if I remember correctly you enjoyed quite the little fantasy after hearing about my hot tub incident.” I began as she settled her lanky frame into the water.

“Mmmm, yeah, that was a good one.” She husked, beginning to get the gist of what I had planned.

“Hit that button right there and we can have our own little hot tub.” I lifted my eyebrows suggestively as I made my way through the bubbles to settle myself across her lap, my weight coming to rest on my knees and her thighs. “Nice.” I whispered when I felt the jets begin to circulate the water.

“Indeed.” She agreed, her hands coming to rest on my waist, pulling me a bit closer the warm skin of our stomachs brushing together.

“Now, why don’t you show me just what you imagine when you think about me in that hot tub.” I husked as I gently gathered up her hair and pinned it back with a jaw clip.

“Hmmm, let’s see, I think it starts with this…” She whispered before leaning in and capturing my lips with her own. I willingly returned her kiss, happily acquiescing when she began to gently probe my mouth with her soft tongue.

“Mmm, great starting point.” I agreed when we parted, our breathing a touch more labored than before.

“I thought so.” She hummed, and released a small moan when my hands trailed over her shoulders and disappeared beneath the water to caress and pinch her rapidly hardening nipples. “Ooh, that’s nice.”

“Yes, very nice.” I agreed, placing wet kisses along her neck and throat, stopping to suck on her exposed collarbone; smiling when I felt her hands begin to wander along my hips and back. “What mom didn’t tell you about that night she caught me was that I wasn’t having sex with the girl I was with.” I began to explain between kisses.

“You weren’t? But she said that you were…”

“Naked? Yes, we were, but I wasn’t ready to go quite that far yet so we were just engaging in a bit of…” I paused for a moment so that I could look up at her, “mutual self-gratification.”

“Oh, God,” she groaned deeply, her eyes closing momentarily, “that is even better than what I imagined.” When she once again returned my gaze I noticed that her pupils were even more dilated and her normally crystal eyes had gotten impossibly bluer. When I decided to tell her the whole truth about that night I realized what an opportunity it could present to us. Although we had been sleeping together for two months and had enjoyed many steamy sex-sessions this was not something we had experienced together and I figured that it was time to test those waters so to speak.

“Yeah, I thought you’d like that.” I wagged my eyebrows at her briefly and reclaimed her soft lips. ‘Yes, this is going quite well.’ I thought to myself as I felt her hands cupping and kneading my breasts. Never breaking our kiss I took one of her hands in my own, entwining our fingers and began lowering it down to my tingling center. “Can I confess something to you?” I asked in a whisper, my lips only a hairs breadth from hers.

“Uh huh.” She breathed, her voice hitching a bit when our fingers brushed lightly over my sex.

“If you haven’t already noticed, I am quite willing to ‘go that far’ with you.” I smiled at her gasp as I pressed two of my fingers to the back of hers and gently penetrated myself with our combined digits. “God, Xena that feels really good.” I hummed in the back of my throat as I began to raise and lower myself, riding our entwined fingers.

“Gab…God that’s hot!” She moaned and I dropped my head back, my short hair tickling my shoulder blades.

“Yeah.” I agreed, grinding harder against her lap. In response she placed her free hand on my hip, guiding me, and captured one erect nipple in her mouth, sucking forcefully. “Yes, Xena…” I moaned as I felt each tug on my sensitive nipple send shock waves down between my legs. Wanting more pressure on my clit I rotated our hands a bit so that on each downward thrust I was grinding against the heel of my lover’s hand, the effect of the added stimulation was immediate, I felt my inner walls begin to tighten and a slow burn ignite in my lower belly. “I’m…close…Baby…” I struggled with the words as I pushed our hands harder against myself and increased my pace.

“That’s it,” Xena coaxed, her lips and tongue painting my neck and chest with kisses and small nips, “come for me, Gabrielle.”

“Xena, God, yes…yes…yes…” I panted as I felt my climax overtake me, my body clamping down on our invading fingers. Whispered endearments brought me back to reality a few moments later. I had collapsed onto my lover after my climax and was now leaning comfortably against her soft chest. Somehow she had withdrawn our fingers and was now rubbing her thumb soothingly in small circles over the back of my hand. Lifting my head from her shoulder I met her blue gaze.

“That was…” I trailed off.

“Amazing.” She finished for me and I felt a smile tug at the corner of my lips. “Thank you.”

“For what?” I asked.

“For sharing that with me, for playing along with one of my fantasies.” She replied.

“Anytime, Baby, anytime.” I winked at her and began to stand up.

“Where you going?” She asked, a bit of confusion in her voice.

“We’re getting pruney. Come with me, I’ll make it worth your while.” I replied, tugging on our still entwined hands. Obligingly she stood and I watched with lust filled eyes as the water sluiced off of her toned body. Grabbing a large towel I wrapped us both in it and began backing out of the bathroom, pulling her along with me. “As I said yesterday it seems a shame to waste that big ole bed.” I explained to her as I spun us around so that she was now walking backwards.

“Well, now that you mention it…” She replied with a tilt of her head.

“Besides,” I started as I dropped our towel and pushed her back onto the already turned down sheets, “I do believe it is your turn.” Smiling predatorily I climbed up onto the king sized bed and crawled on all fours to where she was sprawled out on her back.

“Do with me as you wish.” She smirked and folded her arms behind her head.

“Oh, I will, believe me.” I assured her before lowering my mouth to envelop her already hard nipple. As I sucked greedily on her soft flesh I trailed my hand down her abdomen to her hip, grasping her upper thigh gently and pushing her leg outward to make room for me to slide down.

“Mmmm, yeah…” She moaned as I scattered kisses along her taught belly, brushing my nose around her navel before dipping lower to that small recessed area just below it. I loved that spot, so soft and sensitive. Gently I blew cool air across it after dampening it with my kisses. Goosebumps immediately broke out across my lover’s skin.

“Like that, huh?” I asked, she nodded, her breaths coming in more ragged gasps now. Continuing my journey I moved lower still, my shoulders coming to rest between her thighs. Smiling as her scent hit my nose I draped one of her legs over my shoulders and lowered my mouth to gently blow on her exposed sex.

“Gabrielle! Please…” She pleaded, her hands coming from behind her head to tangle in my hair. I was happy to oblige. Flattening my tongue I ran it the length of her sex, gathering her abudant moisture before concentrating on her engorged clit. Not wanting to send her over right away I didn’t apply direct pressure, instead circling the sensitive bundle of nerves and flicking over it lightly on each pass. Xena’s hips began to rise off the sheets, thrusting against my movements.

“More…” she moaned and I quickly filled her with two fingers. At this unexpected invasion her whole body jerked forcefully before settling back into a constant thrusting. “Yes, yes…” She continued to moan, her hands now pushing me harder into her flesh. She was getting close; her body was loosing its rhythm now, thrusting more erratically against me. Knowing that she wouldn’t hold out much longer I focused more directly on her clit, flicking it hard before taking it fully into my mouth and sucking hard once, twice and then she exploded.

“Gab-ri-elle!” She cried out as I continued to tease her, drawing out her release for as long as possible. Once her body had quieted I crawled back up to lay beside her, my body half on hers. Smiling at her sated expression I gently brushed an errant lock of ebony hair out of her face before running my finger lightly over her high cheekbones and nose.

“I love you.” I said softly for the first time, not quite knowing how my sometimes skittish lover would respond to my confession. Her bright smile and the tightening of her arms around me soothed my sudden nervousness.

“I love you too, Gabrielle.” She echoed and I fought the urge to cry. “Thank you for coming up here with me this weekend.” She added after a few moments.

“There is nowhere else I would rather be.” I said, honestly. Smiling at our newly exposed feelings I brushed my lips over hers briefly, then with more urgency as she pulled me to lie completely atop her. Gradually our kisses deepened and rekindled our desire. Murmuring our feelings of love we pleasured each other until we were too exhausted to continue and could only snuggle in for some rest.

? ? ?

“Move in with me.” I interjected into our conversation about half-way between Albany and D.C. I think Xena was as surprised as I was that the statement had made its way past my lips.

“Really?” She asked, alternating between looking at me sitting sideways in the seat next to her and the road in front of her.

“Yeah, I mean you already have stuff at my place and you barely spend anytime at your apartment. It’s pointless to pay two rents when we really only use one place.” Suddenly I realized how much her moving in with me would mean to her at the F.B.I. “I know that means that you would have to change your address and phone number at work so if you think it’s too soon for that…” I was rambling a bit now trying to give her a way out if she needed one.

“Yes.” She said, smiling brightly at me. I was momentarily confused.

“Yes what? Yes it’s too soon or yes you want to move in?” I asked.

“Yes, of course I want to move in with you. I hate it when we spend nights apart; I just sit in my apartment wishing I had never left your place.” She confessed.

“Really?!” I practically shrieked and leaned forward to kiss her cheek. “I’m so glad. I’ve been wanting to ask you for a week or two now, I just never seemed to find the right time and then we came up here to talk to your parents and when that went so well
I figured why not now?” Again I was rambling. Why was it that this woman could reduce my normally eloquent speech into long babbling sentences? ‘It must be love.’ I thought to myself.

“When do you want to do it?” She asked me, a grin matching my own pulling at her lips.

“How long do you need to pack and settle up with your landlord?” I asked, trying not to sound too eager even though I knew she could tell that I was.

“We could probably do it next weekend. I’m paying month to month and I really don’t have that much stuff to bring over. My living room set and the larger furniture could go into storage until we decide what to do with it.” She explained and I nodded happily. I could see the wheels in her head turning and it made me smile, glad that she seemed to want this as much as I did.

“It’s a date then.” I nodded my head firmly.

“Most definitely.” She agreed and took my hand, resting our entwined fingers on her thigh.

“What a weekend.” I sighed, resting my head against the headrest.

“A good weekend.” She agreed.

“One of the best I have had in a long time.” I confessed and allowed my mind to wander to the next weekend when we would be moving all of Xena’s stuff into ‘our’ apartment. Just the thought made me smile, even when I realized that I would have to clean out half of the closet so that she would have room for her clothes. Oh what a girl will endure for love, losing half of her clothing space. I can’t wait.

The End

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s