Two dozen passengers were in line to board the United flight to London, when Jordan looked down to meet Sarah’s red swollen eyes.
Wiping the tears from her cheeks, Sarah reached into her bag and pulled out a small package wrapped in gold foil. “It’s not much,” she said as tears continued to run down her pale cheeks, “it’s a new copy of our favorite poems.” The back of her hand swiped at her running nose. “I couldn’t part with mine, the old worn pages, our favorites marked by pressed flowers and turned down corners…”
Jordan wasn’t able to meet Sarah’s eyes; she was filled with guilt about leaving, and seeing Sarah cry deepened it.
Sarah glanced around at the other passengers and their families saying goodbye for the late hour flight from JFK, and shrugged slightly before leaning up and kissing Jordan on the lips. “That was not officially a goodbye kiss, but rather a kiss to remind you to come back…” More tears began to fall.
Looking into her eyes, Jordan pulled Sarah close for another deep kiss before the desk announcer called over the PA system, “This is the final boarding call for United Airlines 9366 to London, Heathrow.”
Jordan pulled away from Sarah and sadly turned toward the gate.
“Hey J, do you have your ticket?”
Jordan pulled the ticket out and held it up before meeting Sarah’s eyes one last time and whispering, “I’m not going to say it; I’ll be back.” Jordan took one last look at her, and headed for the gate.
Standing there, Sarah watched her lover of three years go. Then…” Jordan, wait.”
Turning, Jordan stopped and watched Sarah close the few feet between them.
“I have a bad feeling about this, Jordan.”
“About the plane? What? You think it’s gonna crash? My God, Sarah, what are you saying…” Jordan sighed.
Shaking her head, Sarah continued, “No, that’s not it. I know we’ve talked about this a hundred times and we both agree that you’re doing the right thing by going to London for the internship with Bristow’s. But in my heart… this feels wrong.” Sarah looked at the gate; the last few passengers were making their way through the double doors and down the ramp. She looked up into teary green eyes. “Jordan, don’t go…”
“Sarah, you’ve got to be kidding! You mean, don’t go at all? What about my internship? Our future? Two years at the best law firm in London?”
“Believe me, I know what an incredible opportunity this is for you…”
“For us,” Jordan corrected.
“Right, for us. But…Jordan, I’m afraid that if you get on that plane and go to London…” Sarah paused to swallow and wipe at the tears. “Go. I’m sorry; you should just go…go get on that plane.”
Jordan’ eyes narrowed as she tried to figure out Sarah’s cryptic words.
A weak smile formed on Sarah’s lips as she looked up. “Jordan, get the hell outta my sight, and quit staring at me.”
Chuckling, Jordan pulled Sarah in for one last hug. “Okay, I’m going. This will be great for both of us…” Jordan looked toward the gate as the last person stepped through the doors to the plane. She kissed Sarah one more time before bolting for the doors.
Sarah watched Jordan go, tears streaming down her face as the gate doors closed. She waited, almost willing it to open again…waited…waited…but it didn’t…
Five years later…
Jordan closed the black-lacquered door and leaned against it. She surveyed the gleaming hardwood floors, ornate floor mouldings, and the chrome-framed artwork that decorated her white walls. The house overlooked the beach with wall-to-ceiling windows running the length of the house on the west side, allowing a glorious view of the setting sun on clear evenings. She watched the last remnants of the sun as it set in the deep blue water that faded into black.
Strolling across the floor toward the glass doors, Jordan’s hand ran along the back of her black leather couch and paused to enjoy the coolness against her hot skin. She continued on her path toward the door and opened it wide before stepping onto the deck. The cold ocean breeze caressed her skin and blew her short blonde hair as she stopped and leaned down on her elbows on the railing. She watched the twinkling stars appear, then noticed that her neighbors along the beach were turning on their Christmas lights. Suddenly angry, Jordan turned away from the beauty of nature and stormed back into the house; slamming the door closed, she muttered, “Fuck Christmas…”
Heading up the spiral staircase, Jordan began stripping out of the black pinstriped jacket and skirt. She dropped both items on the hallway’s wood floor; in her black stockings and white silk blouse, she threw herself on the bed and glared at the ceiling. Angry that her life wasn’t as simple as she thought it should be, she rolled over and went to sleep.
Jordan had just been made a partner at Alexander, Cohen, Elliot, & Michaels, the largest law firm in San Francisco. Her partnership was based on her landing a number of large contracts in the Silicon Valley with computer chip manufacturers. She had discovered ways to keep the overseas import taxes extremely low by purchasing the companies and doing inter-company transfers of the material to the United States. It resulted in a 300% higher profit margin for the US companies. The word had traveled quickly through the inner circles of management, and they’d flocked to the ACEM agency. Jordan Michaels was on top of the world less than three years after her return from England.
Very early the following morning, Jordan raced through the quiet streets of downtown San Francisco, shifting gears and gassing her metallic blue Ferrari to its limits, before screeching to a halt in front of a glass high-rise. Slamming the car door closed, she straightened her grey skirt before opening the trunk, pulling out her black attaché case, and marching into the ACEM building.
Flashing the security guard a white toothy smile, Jordan threw her keys to him. “Roger, would you mind parking my baby? I don’t want to be late for the meeting…” She stepped into the elevator and rode it to the top floor.
As the brass doors slid open on the executive floor, a petite brunette jumped to her feet and rushed forward. “Good morning, Miss Michaels.”
Jordan set her case down on the corner of the woman’s desk. “Morning, Beth. Is everyone here for the meeting?”
“Yes, ma’am. Here are your messages.” The assistant handed her over a dozen yellow slips. “And your presentation for the contract changes has been loaded to the conference room computer just as you requested.”
“Thank you.” Jordan retrieved her case and opened both wooden doors into the large room. “Gentlemen, we have twelve hours to have this contract reworded and forwarded to the office in Hong Kong before Microsoft loses their import license. If that happens, heads will roll…and a billion dollar contract will be lost.” Jordan placed her attaché at the head of the table before marching around to the large flat screen. “Let’s get started…”
Six sets of eyes followed the tall blonde’s slim figure while hands fidgeted with coffee cups or pens on the large oak table. They all feared her.
Jordan began addressing the group from the front of the room, next to a computer with a huge flat screen monitor that displayed highlighted passages from the proposed contract that had been rejected for the third time. She scrolled through the highlighted sections, telling each team member what they needed to have done and corrected in the next few hours.
She noticed Bob Aby playing with a paper football. “Bob…we still have almost a full day before the office closes in China.” Jordan was distracted by his lack of interest in the assignments. “Bob, penny for your thoughts?”
Bob looked up at the cold green eyes staring at him. “I’m sorry, Jordan, gentlemen. I told my wife and kids I’d be home by dinner. You know, Christmas Eve and all.”
Faking astonishment Jordan purred, “Is that tonight?”
The group broke into nervous laughter.
“Bob, do you honestly think I like being here on Christmas Eve? Worrying that we’ll lose our largest client?”
Stuttering, Bob spat out the words, “I don’t know. Maybe…”
Another nervous laugh came from the group; even Jordan smiled and released a good-natured chuckle.
“Okay, gentlemen, maybe I do have tunnel vision today. But with eleven million dollars a year at stake as well as other potential business deals with some of the largest US computer companies, we all may need to get on this roller coaster and ride it until it’s over—without the opportunity to ask for a vacation or holiday.” Jordan smiled as the group began to clap and laugh. Once the group settled down, Jordan drew them back into the huddle. “By this evening when the imports are loaded onto the cargo planes and moving again, there will be so many bonuses attached to our checks that it will seem like Christmas Day every payday for the next four months. But…until the contract is approved and signed, focus on the problem, not the holiday. After we’re done, you can all celebrate every day for the next week…with my blessing.”
The six men around the table nodded enthusiastically with words of agreement.
Bob hung his head slightly. “You’re right, Jordan. Sorry…”
“I don’t want you to be sorry, Bob; I want you to be excited. I want you to throw your arms up in the air and scream all the way down the rail of this baby. And do you know why?” Jordan approached Bob and squatted down beside his chair to meet his tired brown eyes.
“Because this roller coaster ride could come across the finish line with a ten digit total in the ACEM bank account, and profits trickle down.” Jordan stood up and headed toward the doors.
The room filled with excited murmurs.
Jordan opened the conference room doors as the six energized men began gathering their things. “Gentlemen, we reconvene in five hours. Let’s be ready for a video call with Hong Kong to have this signed, sealed, and in the air before the sun sets.” Jordan strode toward her office at the end of the hall as Beth fell into step with her, handing over another stack of yellow phone messages.
“The meeting only lasted one hour, Miss Michaels. What’s the matter? Not enough asses to chew on this morning?” Beth chortled as she pushed open the door with “J. Michaels” in raised gold lettering.
Jordan stepped into her office and settled into a high-backed leather chair behind the bare mahogany desk before paging through her messages.
“Oh, by the way, Sax called; they’re open until 5 PM tonight if you wish to pick up your new suits.” Beth shuffled papers around and laid a couple of files out. “These need your signature as soon as possible.”
Jordan stopped on the last message. After reading the name, she just stared at the piece of paper and continued to mutter the name like a mantra. “Sarah Mathers, Sarah Mathers, Sarah Mathers…”
“Her assistant said you could call her at home after eight,” Beth called as she began to pull the door closed.
“Her assistant?” Jordan called out.
“Yes, Miss Michaels, her assistant.” Beth closed the door.
Jordan was lost in thought as she remembered how Sarah had looked at the airport—the sad red eyes swollen from all the tears, the pleading tones she’d used to try and convince Jordan not to board the plane to London. Five years seemed so long ago…Jordan pulled the bottom drawer of her desk open and stared at the worn poetry book , its sole occupant.
She didn’t hear the door open as Beth entered with a stack of file folders. “Another stack for your review…”
Jolted back to reality, Jordan stared up at Beth as she asked, “Are you okay, Miss Michaels?”
“She didn’t want me to go to London. We were standing at the airport saying goodbye and she asked me to stay.” Jordan stared off into space, still at the airport five years earlier.
“So you left her? Just like that?” Beth inquired as she set the files down on the mahogany desk.
“God, no.” Jordan sighed. “I thought about it for a moment, then she told me to get the hell out of her sight. I was consumed with the thought of staying for practically the entire flight…”
“Stop with the ‘pity me’, Miss Michaels; I’m getting all weepy.” Beth chuckled. “And it doesn’t suit you.”
“I am!” Jordan continued, reciting a poem from the book in the drawer, “yet what I am no one cares or knows, my friends forsake me like a memory lost; I am the self-consumer of my woes, they rise and vanish in oblivious host, like shades in love and death’s oblivion lost. And yet I am! And live with shadows tossed into the nothingness of scorn and noise, into the living sea of waking dreams.” She paused with a sigh before continuing, “Where there is neither sense of life nor joys, but the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems; and e’en the dearest–that I loved the best….”
Taken aback by the softness that suddenly appeared in Jordan’s eye, Beth picked up the receiver. “I’m going get her on the phone…”
Jordan paused, still focused on the message, her mind drifting through memories of her college days and Sarah.
Beth began dialing the number.
Jordan reached out and hung up the phone. “No…”
“No?! You were obviously in love with this woman. Aren’t you even curious about what she wants?” Beth practically screamed.
“She’s probably just having a moment of wistful nostalgia. You know, a lonely Christmas Eve, probably too much to drink, let’s call the one that got away.”
Beth rolled her eyes and sighed.
“Honestly, Beth, it’s just ancient history. It was years ago,” Jordan said, “and I do not have time for this crap. I have less than five hours to have a contract ready for Hong Kong’s approval.”
Beth rolled her eyes again and turned to leave the office.
”Yes, Miss Michaels?”
Jordan asked, “An old boyfriend calls you out of the blue on Christmas Eve…it’s been years. You’re now married, have kids…what do you do?”
“If I think about it that way, Miss Michaels, I’d leave it in the past. Remember the good times, or the happy memories you’ve made up in your own mind, and let it go.”
Jordan flashed Beth a satisfied smile, crumpled up Sarah’s message, and tossed the yellow slip of paper into the wastebasket before turning to her keyboard and setting to work on the contract.
Success and Crooks…
A single light remained on in the ACEM building. Jordan was alone in her office working on the computer, glancing at the display on the large flat screen monitor. It was a softcopy of the signed contract from the Hong Kong office, attached to an email giving the details of the first cargo plane that had left for the United States less than an hour before. She smiled smugly and leaned back in her chair, rubbing her tired eyes. Checking her slim gold watch, she exclaimed, “Damn, it’s past eleven.” She got up and stretched before going to the window, seeing the city in all its Christmas glory, lights and decorations blowing in the soft breeze. She turned and looked at the crumpled yellow paper in the trashcan before turning back to the window, gazing out at the night…Sarah’s face was still etched in her heart after all this time.
Moments later Jordan stepped out of the elevator, walking past the lobby desk where Luis, the night security guard, sat watching the monitors.
“Miss Michaels, why you didn’t call me?” Luis’ accent was thick. “I woulda’ had Frank get your wheels fer’ you, ma’am.”
Jordan looked outside the front door at the small papers blowing around in the breeze. “I thought a walk in the air to get my car from the garage would do me some good. I’ve been stuck inside this building since before dawn.”
“You sure, ma’am?” His concern was genuine. “I call Frank and have him walk with you?”
“No, thank you, Luis.”
“Merry Christmas, Miss Michaels.” Luis smiled.
Jordan only nodded and stepped through the door into the fog and cool breeze. She walked across the street and past the large fountain that was the center of a small park in front of the parking garage. Sprawled next to the fountain, a drunken man in a Santa suit hugged a half empty fifth of scotch. Jordan watched him as she continued toward her car.
A figure in a dark jacket with a hood pulled over the face ran past her, pushing her down as it streaked towards the passed-out Santa. It stopped in front of him and reached for the bottle.
Santa struggled to consciousness to keep hold of his bottle. “Mine, mine,” he rasped.
Noticing the flash of metal from the figure, Jordan stood up and headed toward the two figures, screaming, “Hey, leave the old guy alone, you creep!”
The dark figure turned towards her and Jordan could clearly make out the five-inch double-edged blade in his hand.
“Stay outta’ this woman; I just want the booze,” came a deep baritone voice from under the hood.
Jordan took a few more tentative steps toward the would-be thief. “Look, leave the old fellow alone. If you’re just looking for a bottle to stay warm, leave him to his holiday cheer and I’ll give you the couple dollars of cash I have in my bag.” She made slow movements in clear sight, and pulled two twenties from the side pocket of her attaché. “I have forty dollars; it’s yours. A gift, call it a Christmas present among friends? And the old guy keeps his bottle.”
A hearty laugh. “What’s to stop me from taking your money and his bottle?”
“Respect.” Jordan smiled with a shrug.
“I bet you think I’m a charity case? You and your grey suit and briefcase.” Absently scratching at his thigh with a thumb, he continued with a joke, “Woman in $2,000 SAX suit gets killed tryin’ to be a hero to a drunken Santa…film at eleven.”
“Believe me, the last thing I want tonight is to get killed. Or to see that guy killed.” Jordan motioned with her hand to the red-suited man. “I guess you could say I just have a little Christmas spirit this evening. I want to give money to strangers; maybe it’ll make me feel good about myself.” She took a few steps closer. “And if you need the money, it’s a good deal for both of us.” Jordan flashed a toothy grin and held the money out. “Hey, c’mon…what do you have to lose?”
In a flash, the figure tossed the knife to the ground and whipped out a .38 from a deep pocket in the jacket, aimed it at Jordan’s head, and screamed, “Do you want to die?”
Trying to keep her cool, Jordan stared down the barrel of the gun.
”DO YOU WANNA DIE?!”
Jordan swallowed hard and cleared her throat a couple of times before whispering, “No.”
“Yes, you do…you must to continue trying to save this guy’s bottle. Is a four dollar bottle of booze worth your life?!”
“No, I’m just looking to be a good Samaritan. I’ll give you forty dollars.” She motioned with her hand, waving the money slightly. “More than enough for you to get your own bottle, and maybe a meal. And we all go our own way.” She paused. “I’m no hero…”
“Damn, I guess you’re the real thing…an honest person in this back-stabbing city.” He put the gun back in his jacket pocket. “You have a deal, pretty lady.”
Jordan sighed loudly.
“But here’s the deal, I earn the money.” He pushed his hood back to reveal long blonde hair and a scruffy beard. “No handouts.
I remember what it was like to respect myself and others and earn money by working.” His smile was marred by broken rotting teeth.
Jordan nodded. “Okay, hmm…how about carrying my bag and escorting me to my car.” She smiled. “The city’s full of freaks.”
Taking the bag from her hand, he said, “By the way, my name’s Will.” He motioned for her to lead the way. After a few steps he spoke again, “You know, you seem pretty relaxed for someone who just had a gun pointed at them.”
“I guess you could say I know today isn’t my day to die.” Jordan waved to the garage attendant who stepped out of the glassed-in office to hand her a ring of keys, a silver “J” reflecting the harsh fluorescent light.
“Evening, Miss Michaels.” The young man eyed the transient. “ Your car is in its normal spot.”
Will continued to follow the young blonde, clutching her bag. “Not your day to die, huh? You’re pretty sure of yourself.”
“I guess I am.” Jordan stopped at the rear of her car and held out her hand to take her bag.
He handed it over and gladly took the money when it was handed to him.
“Thank you, Will.”
“One question before you go, Miss Michaels…tell me, you’ve got a gun to your head and you don’t think for one second, what if this, what if that?” He paused to take a breath. “You know, maybe I shouldn’t do this? I shoulda done that?”
Jordan smiled. “I don’t do that. That’s just not me.”
“Okay, Miss Michaels, nice doin’ business with you.”
“Hey,” Jordan called out.
Will turned around.
“Now it’s my turn, why do you carry a gun around anyway?” Jordan cocked her head in curiosity. “You’re just going do something you’ll regret.”
“You want to talk about regrets? Afraid you’re talking to the wrong person, ma’am.” Will ran his fingers through shaggy blonde hair.
“Will, I’m just thinking that you seem like a smart guy. At a certain point you’re going do something, and then there’s no turning back when you cross that line,” Jordan explained. “Then it’s regrets and loss of self-respect.”
Nodding his head, Will agreed, “Yeah, in most cases that’d be true.”
Jordan continued, “I mean there must be programs out there, opportunities to get you back on track…”
Will laughed loudly. “Wait a minute, wait a minute, ma’am. Are you’re tryin’ to save me?” He continued to laugh. “The guy that just threatened to kill you for forty dollars?”
“I guess I am, Will.”
“Oh man, you’re serious! You think I need to be saved?!”
“Everyone needs something.” Jordan leaned against her car.
“You think so? What do you need, Miss Michaels?” Will countered.
“You just said everyone needs something. What do you need?”
“I’ve got everything I ever wanted, Will. Everything.”
“Wow. It must be great being you if you’ve got it all.” Will squatted down and looked up at the tall blonde before him.
“Look, Will, I’m not saying you’d be able to do it without some hard work and guts.”
Will laughed again. “You still think this is about me, don’t you?”
“Sure it’s about you, Will. And the injustices of society to respond to the needs of others instead of just our own selfishness”
“Oh man, I love this!” Will stood up and turned to leave. “Jordan, remember what comes around, goes around. One good deed deserves the return of a good deed. Just remember that.”
Puzzled, Jordan watched the dirty would-be crook walk out of the parking garage and out of her life.
Pulling the blue Ferrari into her garage just after 1 a.m. Jordan was happy to be home. She placed her keys and briefcase on the table just to the right of the front door and picked up her mail to finger through it. Lacking interest in any of the envelopes, she placed them on the table and slid her high heels off before slowly climbing the stairs to her bedroom. Her only thoughts were of sleep, as she stripped out of her clothes and stretched out naked on the bed.
Jordan felt the warmth of the morning sun on her face and tried to roll over to hide from it. Something prevented her from doing so. She slowly opened her eyes and looked down at the long black hair and head resting on her stomach. Confused, she looked toward the brightness of the sun that was blinding her so early in the morning. A wooden frame window covered only by pale lavender sheers? A large German Shepherd curled up under the window? Dazed by the sights around her, and the warm body using her for a pillow, she tried to adjust herself to see the face of the woman hidden by the long hair. Slowly she brushed the hair away from the face of…Sarah? Sarah Mathers?
Sarah snuggled closer and hugged the warm torso under her head as she smiled contentedly and sought the deep sleep she was slowly being forced to escape.
Jordan’s eyes darted around the room; she struggled to recognize the small four-poster bed, the miscellaneous clothes strewn around the room, or even the pictures on the walls. The clock on the nightstand read “6:01” in green digital numbers. A dream? Jordan just knew this had to be a dream…
Sarah mumbled, “Another hour, J. It’s Christmas morning after all.”
Surprised by the sweet voice, Jordan jerked slightly. Suddenly she decided that if she was dreaming of Sarah, she might as well enjoy the walk down memory lane! She slowly pushed Sarah over on her back and began kissing the exposed neck and bare shoulder.
Giggling quietly, Sarah halfheartedly pushed Jordan’s head away, as her body responded to the onslaught of warm lips.
Until now Jordan had forgotten the sweet taste of Sarah’s skin and the way her body responded to gentle persuasion. She lifted her head from the delicate shoulder to kiss soft lips. The kiss deepened as Sarah responded with a moan.
Suddenly the bedroom door burst open, and a little girl about four years old threw her small body on the bed. She climbed up to stand on the bed and started jumping up and down, her pink nightgown billowing out each time she landed on the bed. She was screaming in a shrill voice, “Santa came, Santa came…”
The dog stood up and stretched before making its way to the side of the bed and yawning with a howl.
Jordan didn’t know what to do. She kept glancing from Sarah to the jumping child with a deer-in-the-headlights look.
Peering out from under Jordan’s body, Sarah spoke softly, “Alexia, sweetie, stop jumping on the bed.”
Alexia stopped jumping and stood with her feet spread to keep her balance on the bed. “Get up, Mommy.”
Not knowing what to do or say, Jordan just stayed on top of Sarah.
“J, don’t we get to open presents now?” the young one inquired.
She didn’t know what to say; she looked down at Sarah for help.
Sarah responded, “Alexia, give us five minutes. Take Max downstairs and let him out in the backyard.”
Frightened by this wet dream turned nightmare, Jordan quickly climbed off of Sarah and jumped out of bed. Looking down at herself, she suddenly realized she was standing there in all her naked glory. Mortified at the turn of events in this dream, she continued to look from Sarah to the child. Frightened, she quickly grabbed a pair of faded jeans and a red sweatshirt from the floor and pulled them on as she struggled to make her way through the bedroom door.
Sarah called out, “J, can you turn on the coffee pot?”
Turning to look at the pair on the bed, Jordan nodded as she backed out the door and ran down the stairs, looking for a pair of shoes and a door to escape this nightmare.
Jordan stopped on the last step, noticing a pair of sneakers that appeared to be about her size. She stepped into them as she heard the sound of a key turning in the door lock. She stopped and just stared at door, waiting for the next nightmare to appear.
The door opened wide, and into the house, arms laden with wrapped gifts, walked Sarah’s mom, Betty Mathers.
“Good morning, Jordan.” Betty began pushing packages into Jordan’s arms while she continued, “Where’s my beautiful grandbaby this morning?” She glanced around Jordan, looking for the child.
Jordan stuttered, “Up…upstairs with Sarah.”
“Alexia, your gu’ma’s here,” Betty called. “Come give me a kiss and hug.”
Tossing the packages in a nearby chair, Jordan muttered, “Excuse me,” and dashed out the open door.
Betty turned to watch Jordan stand on the porch, looking around like a cornered fox.
“Where are you going, hon? It’s Christmas morning…” The older woman watched as Jordan jumped off the porch and headed for the cars parked in the driveway.
Stopping in her tracks, Jordan looked at the three cars. A white Cadillac was parked in the last spot. She assumed it must be Betty Mather’s vehicle. She noticed a beat-up red Jeep and a newer Nissan SUV. “Shit, I need keys,” she muttered almost frantically before turning around and running back into the house to look for keys.
“Jordan, are you alright?” Betty inquired.
“Alright?” Jordan contemplated the question for a moment. “I don’t think so. Damn, I need the keys.” She looked around anxiously.
“There on the wall, hon.” Betty motioned. “Next to the door.”
Jordan grabbed the keys with a large silver “J” and ran out the door toward the Jeep, praying that she was picking the right car and she could escape this suburban neighborhood and the hellish nightmare she’d woke up to. The Jeep started easily and she peeled out of the driveway, heading away from the rising sun.
A few miles away, she saw the onramp to Highway 1. She crossed two lanes recklessly and jumped on the freeway, heading to her house on the beach south of San Francisco.
Another twenty minutes of freeway driving put Jordan at the Riverdale exit that led to her wood floors and her view of the ocean. She turned the corner, and after passing a few houses, turned into her driveway…
”WHAT THE FUCK!?” Jordan screamed.
She shut off the engine and stepped from the car, standing in a barren field overlooking the ocean. Falling to her knees, she stared out at the water, wondering when this dream would end. Frustrated, Jordan stood and headed back to the Jeep and her home away from home—the office.
Thirty minutes later, Jordan squealed to a stop in front of the ACEM Building. She slammed the car door, raced to the glass entryway, and pulled on the chrome handle.
The door was locked.
The security guard behind the bank of monitors stood and walked toward the doors, speaking loudly, “Sorry, ma’am, we’re closed.”
Jordan recognized Luis as the guard on duty. “Luis, it’s me. Let me in.”
“Sorry, miss. THE LAW OFFICES ARE CLOSED,” he repeated.
“Dammit, Luis!” Jordan screamed. “This is no longer funny.”
“Ma’am, the offices are closed until Monday.” He forced a smile. “Come back then.”
“Open this fucking door!” Jordan frantically tugged on the handles as she continued, “I am a partner and I will have your fucking job on Monday!”
“Miss, please go home; sleep it off.” He waved her away. “Don’t make me call the cops. Do you want to spend Christmas in jail?”
Jordan stormed back to the Jeep. She stopped after pulling the door open and looked up to read the sign:
Alexander, Cohen, & Elliot
Family and Small Business Law
She kept re-reading the sign, waiting for the words to sink in. She was so lost in her own little world, she was oblivious to the blue Ferrari that pulled to a stop behind her.
My Perfect Life…
The dark-tinted window lowered and a deep baritone voice called out from the Ferrari. “Hey! What are you doing standing in the middle of the street? You trying to get yourself killed on Christmas Day?”
Jordan turned toward the car; she couldn’t make out the driver, but the voice…it sounded so familiar. She looked at the car, a blue Ferrari…it looked…”That’s my car.”
“You almost dented my new two hundred thousand dollar car!” the voice bellowed. “You know what, Jordan? My new car is worth more than both your cars and your house.” A deep chuckle echoed from the car.
She squatted down to look Will in the face.
Will smiled. His hair was neat and pulled back into a ponytail, his beard recently trimmed, and a grey silk suit adorned his muscular form. “I have everything I ever wanted, Jordan…how about you?”
Jordan screamed at Will through the lowered window. “That’s my car, you crook! You stole my car!” She took a deep breath. “Did you steal my job and house too?”
He smiled with near-perfect white teeth. “J, it’s not like that at all.”
“What exactly is it then?!”
“Basically, it’s my car now, my life.”
“Will, what in the hell is happening? I woke up naked with a woman I haven’t seen in five years,” Jordan questioned, sobbing as she hung her head and placed her folded arms on the open window.
“Look, J, I don’t know what you’re getting so worked up about.” Will turned the radio down. “You did something last night that warranted a re-eval of your life.”
“I didn’t do anything!” She sobbed again, angry for crying, and angry that she was no longer in control.
Will leaned over and patted Jordan’s arm. “Jordan, last night you told me you had everything you ever wanted. You practically pleaded with me to not do anything I would ever regret.” He sighed. “You stepped up to a crook to prevent harm to an old man;
a man that was a no one to you, just a stranger. Then you reasoned with me while I pointed a gun to your head. You wanted to make sure I didn’t do something that I would regret later, or lose whatever remaining self respect I had.”
“I do a good deed, and now I’m sent into a horrendous nightmare?” More sobs.
Will laughed at Jordan’s hysteria.
The laughter enraged Jordan. “Give me my goddamn life back!”
“It doesn’t work that way. You did a good deed last night, and the favor is being returned.” Will emphasized his next statement. “Jordan, I want to make sure you don’t have any regrets. You’re living a stolen moment of what might have been for you and Sarah.”
“Something of a glimpse?” Jordan tried to calm herself and understand the situation. “Will, don’t play games with me.”
“Jordan, enjoy your new life.” He reached across and patted her arm again, his smile pleasant. “Now go home. Go back to your precious Sarah and Alexia, and enjoy.”
Standing up and stepping away from the car, Jordan turned and looked at Will, her face ashen. “How long am I stuck in this ‘moment in time’?” She asked.
Will handed her a bag. “Take these with you.”
Jordan opened the bag and looked at the paintbrushes. “Brushes?” She asked of no one as the Ferrari sped off; the only sound she heard was the shifting of gears. Looking up one more time at the ACE sign, she shook her head and muttered, “Five years of hard work, everything I gave up to climb to the top, to have everything I ever wanted…gone.” She climbed into the Jeep and headed ‘home’.
The red Jeep wove back and forth through the suburban neighborhoods. All of them seemed identical. Plastic Christmas decorations and strands of colored lights made it impossible for Jordan to find the place she’d left four hours earlier. She stopped on a corner and rested her head on the steering wheel, upset that all the houses looked alike.
Turning her head to the side, she saw a woman in denim shorts and rainbow T-shirt chasing a child in a pink Barbie Jeep around their front yard. Another woman in similar clothing was placing boxes and a large black plastic bag in a green trashcan. Jordan smiled and thought to herself, ‘They have to be lesbians…maybe they know Sarah.’ She turned off the engine and climbed out of the car.
The woman that had been chasing the young girl stood up and waved. “Jordan, where in the hell have you been?” She met Jordan on the curb. “Sarah called a couple of hours ago frantic. Said you ran out of the house this morning, not saying a word.”
“Hmm,” Jordan stuttered as she wondered who this person was.
“Hey Jenn, look who I found…”
The woman at the trashcan turned and waved to Jordan. “Hey Jordan, better get your ass home soon. I think you’re in some serious hot water!” She finished at the trash and headed into the house.
“Jordan, are you okay?” The woman reached across and touched Jordan’s shoulder.
Jordan jumped at the contact. “Yeah, I’m okay…I think.”
“Well, let’s go in and give Sarah a call; you know, let her know you’re okay.” The woman turned toward the house, calling to the child racing around the yard, “Becca, up to the house for a minute, I need to make a call.”
Whining as tears formed in her eyes, the little girl slowly drove her Barbie car toward the house.
The woman held the door open as all three of them entered. “You sure you’re okay, Jordan? You look terrible…”
Jordan stood in the entryway as the other woman went to get the phone. She glanced at the many frames with family photos adorning the wall. Her attention was drawn to a photograph that featured a dozen women, including both women in this house and Sarah and herself. They were all holding bats or mitts. It appeared to be a softball team. Jordan struggled to make out the names on the shirts. “MSG.” She wondered what MSG was…
“Nice picture of all of us. I can’t wait until the summer to start playing again.”
After reading a trophy on the shelf, Jordan asked, “Dawn?”
“Yeah, Jordan, you hit your head this morning? Or something like that?”
Jordan tried to explain, “I don’t think so…just seems like I suddenly woke up in someone else’s life…”
“Do you want to call Sarah? Or do you want me too?” Dawn asked.
She paused; she didn’t even know her own phone number. “Nah, you go ahead. Let her know I’ll be home in a little bit. Thanks…Dawn.”
“No problem.” She dialed the number from memory. “Sarah, it’s Dawn.” A moment of silence. “Yes, she just showed up here. I’m kicking her out of my house now. She’ll be home in a few.” More silence. “She’s okay, Sarah. Yeah, bye.”
Jordan just continued to look at the various photos.
“Come on, Jordan, time for you to get your ass home and make up with your wife.”
“Wife…yeah,” Jordan muttered in her confusion.
Dawn led the way toward the Jeep. “What the hell is up anyway? You and Sarah have a big fight this morning?”
“Well shit, woman, you leave the house on Christmas morning; you don’t tell anyone where you’re going…talk to me, Jordan.” Dawn stopped next to the Jeep.
“I guess you could say I woke up from a nightmare this morning; I had to get out of the house.” Jordan shook her head. “Just having a bad day, I guess.”
“If you need to talk, Jordan, you know I’m here.” Dawn gave Jordan a sincere nod. “After all, Jenn and I would have never gotten together if it wasn’t for you and Sarah a couple of years back. I’m here for you. We’ve always been friends…”
“If you’re having trouble at work, or with Sarah. Maybe it’s the family thing, you know Alexia is becoming quite the spitting image of Sarah…not ready to let her grow up?”
“Nah, it’s not any of those…I don’t think.”
“Jordan, you depressed? Blue cuz’ of the holidays? Not thinking about suicide, are you?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Okay, early mid-life crisis? Thinking you need some cute thing on your arm? You think maybe you and Sarah been together too long? I mean…college was a long time ago,” Dawn continued to push her friend. “Family life getting you down?”
“College?” Jordan paused, wondering, ‘What about London…’
“Eight years is a long time with someone, just don’t do something to fuck it up…Jordan, you guys are an inspiration for Jenn and I. Keep it together, woman…especially for Alexia.”
Dawn pulled the Jeep door open. “Now get your butt around the corner to your woman.”
“Around the corner?” Jordan was confused as she looked down the street and then turned to look down the street behind her. “Where do I live…?”
“Jordan, have you been drinking this morning?” Dawn shook her head in shock. “You live up the street and around the corner on the right.”
“No, but I think I need a drink about now.” Jordan still looked dazed. “Oh, I was spacing…”
“Get home. Sarah was pretty pissed on the phone. Call me later.”
Jordan pulled the door closed and gave a wave before driving off with the directions given to her.
Pulling into the driveway, Jordan noticed that Betty’s Cadillac was gone. She parked the Jeep behind the SUV and stepped out of the vehicle. With her head down, she turned the doorknob and stepped into the living room, clutching the bag of brushes.
Alexia was sitting in the middle of the floor playing with a Bob the Builder construction set. She looked up and smiled before knocking the stack of blocks down.
Sarah entered the room talking on a wireless phone. “Hold on a sec, Mom, Jordan just walked in.” She covered the mouthpiece of the phone. “Jordan, are you okay?”
Standing there with her mouth slightly agape, Jordan nodded. “Yeah, I’m okay.” She looked at Sarah, dressed in baggy grey sweats and a white tee that looked like it was Jordan’s and not Sarah’s. She was suddenly struck by how much she had missed by never coming back to Sarah. She loved Sarah…she always had. Jordan flopped down on the low well-used couch and watched Alexia.
“I’ll call you later, Mom.” Sarah hung up the phone and set it down on the coffee table rather hard.
Jordan flinched a little; she remembered that tone all too well. Sarah had been the only one that Jordan willing gave up control to and, on occasion, Sarah knew exactly when and how to make Jordan feel like a child receiving a reprimand…Jordan felt that way now.
“Do you have any idea what you put us through, Jordan?” Sarah sat down on the coffee table across from Jordan and continued in a more controlled voice. “You ran out of here at 6:30 this morning, didn’t tell me where you were going, or even that you were going. The last thing I saw was you pulling your jeans over your naked ass and running down the stairs. Four hours later you show up at Jenn and Dawn’s house. I called the Highway Patrol, the hospitals, all of our friends…” Her voice was becoming slightly shrill. She stopped and swallowed hard.
Looking deep into the blue eyes brimming with tears, Jordan felt as though her heart was being ripped from her chest. “I’m sorry, Sarah.”
She looked at Jordan curiously. “Where were you?”
“I went to San Francisco.”
“You went into SF on Christmas morning?” Sarah asked in shock.
“Because I woke up this morning, and this wasn’t where I was supposed to be.” Jordan pleaded with her eyes. “Suddenly I was in someone else’s life.”
Sarah raised an eyebrow. “This isn’t funny, Jordan…”
Jordan had no answer, no explanation. So she just handed Sarah the bag of brushes she’d been grasping.
Looking at the bag curiously, Sarah opened it and pulled out the half dozen brushes, each a different size. She looked at them while a smile played at the corners of her mouth. “Jordan, this does not make up for you missing everything.” She fingered the bristles. “You missed my mom’s famous homemade waffles; you missed Alexia opening all her presents.” Sarah leaned forward, inches away from Jordan’s face. “And more importantly, J, you missed me opening that artist box.”
Frowning, Jordan met Sarah’s eyes. “I really am sorry…”
“Think about Alexia, you weren’t here for her…” Sarah continued to push the guilt as she slid forward, placing a knee between Jordan’s spread legs. “Her face was less than an inch from Jordan’s. “And you missed my surprise when I opened that large box, all the tubes of paints, the canvases, everything I need for painting…” Sarah kissed Jordan on the lips. “You are NOT forgiven… yet. But, thank you.”
Sarah stood up and walked away, leaving a very shocked and confused Jordan sitting on the couch. “Watch Alexia while I take a shower.”
Alexia watched Sarah leave and then stared at Jordan.
Jordan stared back into the soft blue eyes. She wondered about the father…so many questions and no answers.
Jumping up, Alexia ran from the room…”Mommeeee.” Her feet were loud and clumsy as she ran up the stairs.
Shrugging, Jordan reached for the television remote and clicked it on.
Later that evening, Jordan was stretched out on the bed watching ESPN highlights when Sarah entered the room wearing only a white T-shirt and white panties.
“J, Alexia is asleep.” She closed the bedroom door.
Jordan looked up and then returned to the football scores for the day.
Turning on the bathroom light, Sarah closed the door until it was only open a crack. “Jordan Michaels, are you listening to me? Alexia is ASLEEP.”
“Not for long if you keep yelling like that.” She chuckled. “I’m glad to hear it; she’s a handful.”
Sarah stepped in front of the television and turned it off.
“Hey, I was watching that,” Jordan pouted.
“Wouldn’t you rather watch this?” Sarah asked as she slowly pulled her shirt up, revealing a toned stomach and firm white breasts. Tossing the shirt into a corner, she climbed on the bed, her long dark hair trailing along Jordan’s body.
Jordan could see the sexy look in Sarah’s eyes, her breasts swaying.
“Oh, I see, Alexia is asleep and you want some.”
“You’re catching on, J. I want some of this.” Sarah stopped and began nipping at Jordan’s bottom lip.
Suddenly Jordan was uncomfortable. Sarah was almost naked on top of her, and the kisses were getting deeper. She hadn’t been with this woman in over five years…
Sarah ran a hand through Jordan’s short blonde hair and moaned at the contact.
Jordan pulled back and looked up into the crystal eyes above her. “Sarah…you’re beautiful…”
Almost uncomfortable with the compliment, Sarah whispered, “Thank you, J.”
“I’m serious, Sarah; you’ve become a beautiful woman.”
Sarah’s smile stretched from ear to ear as she leaned down and kissed Jordan again.
A scream broke the moment. “Mommeee, Mommeee, save me…”
Jumping off the bed, Sarah grabbed a flannel shirt thrown over the back of the chair and ran down the hall to Alexia’s room.
Jordan sighed, almost with relief, and made her way down the hall. She leaned against the doorframe and watched Sarah cradle the little girl as she cooed in her ear. “It’s okay, baby…it’s okay.”
She smiled at Jordan and shrugged.
Grinning, Jordan watched the closeness of the two.
Sarah asked Alexia, “Baby, you want J to come scare away the nightmare?”
“No,” she pouted as she hugged her mother tighter.
The morning light was warm against Jordan’s face. She groaned and rolled away from the brightness, as her hand reached out and felt an empty bed. Smiling, she snuggled deeper under the covers, happy the nightmare had ended. Then she heard it…the shower running and the patter of little feet entering the room. She opened her eyes and saw Alexia staring at her. “Morning, short stuff,” Jordan rasped out.
Alexia continued to stare. Tentatively she reached out and touched the end of Jordan’s nose. She watched it move when she pressed on it slightly. Intrigued, she ran a hand through Jordan’s short blonde hair.
Jordan lay there watching the child.
“You’re not really my ‘J’,” the little girl pouted. “You look like her, and you feel like her…” Alexia leaned across the bed, inches from Jordan, and looked deep into her half-closed green eyes. “But the shiny look in your eyes is gone.”
Trying to think of something to say, Jordan chose honesty. “No…I guess I’m not.”
Alexia’s eyes welled up with tears. “What did you do with my ‘J’?”
“Well, you could say we changed places for a bit,” Jordan tried to explain. “I’m here to see what could have been…”
Tears slid down a small face.
“Don’t cry, Alexia; soon it will be fixed,” Jordan tried to reassure herself and the child. “Soon I’ll be back where I came from and your ‘J’ will be here.”
“Are you gonna hurt us?” A small hand swiped at the runny nose.
“No, I’m not here to hurt you,” Jordan said, smiling, “or your mom.”
Alexia inquired, “Do you make frank toast?”
“Frank toast?” Jordan tried to understand. “I guess I could…”
“Promise not to steal me?”
Jordan sat up and drew her legs under her. “Promise and cross my heart. I’m not going to hurt you or your mom. And no stealing.”
A smile from Alexia. “Okay…”
The bathroom door opened and Sarah emerged wrapped in a blue towel, her long black hair dripping down her back. Slightly startled by the sight of Jordan and Alexia, she wondered, “You two are up early today…and without prodding. Everything okay?”
Jordan looked at Alexia and then at the wet person standing in front of the dresser. “Yup, everything is okay.”
“Well then, both of you had better get moving.” Sarah pulled a pair of pink cotton panties from the drawer. “Come on, J, it’s your day to drop Alexia off at daycare.”
Running from the room, Alexia giggled.
Jordan watched as Sarah pulled on her underwear and then dropped the towel to put on a matching bra. “I think I’ll start with a cold shower…” She climbed out of bed, stretching her long form.
Sarah only laughed.
Alexia was buckled into the front seat next to Jordan as she guided her to the Little People Daycare. “Turn here. See where all those moms are?”
Jordan pulled to a stop in the line and walked around the Jeep, helping Alexia out of the tall vehicle.
“This is my daycare; I stay here while you and mommy work,” Alexia explained.
“Okay, you stay here. Where does Sarah go?”
“She goes to the big,” Alexia struggled with the word, “uni-varsity.”
Jordan pronounced the word a few times. “Oh, she goes to the university?”
“Does she teach or go to there to learn?”
“She’s learning. She goes there to learn new stuff like I do here.” Alexia smiled, proud of herself.
“Then what do I do?”
“You work with gu-ma.”
Confused, Jordan asked, “I work for your Grandma Betty? Where?”
Alexia shrugged. “Be here at 5.” She waved before running toward a young lady standing at the open door.
Jordan climbed back into the Jeep and pulled out of the drive, heading no place in particular. She tried to recall what the Mathers had done when she and Sarah dated.
“A gun shop?!” Jordan screamed out. “Phillip Mathers owned a gun shop when we were in college. I work at a gun shop?” Exasperated, Jordan continued, “Can my life get any worse?”
Turning the corner, Jordan drove down the main strip of Los Gatos. She wondered how they had ended up here. She guessed the closeness to San Francisco might have been what drew her, and if Sarah was in school, this would be the ideal place with three major universities less than an hour way.
Jordan stopped at a red light and looked around. That’s when she saw it.
‘MATHER SPORTING GOODS’
She shook her head and hung it in despair.
The sound of a horn shocked Jordan back to reality. She chuckled. ‘Reality? More like someone’s twisted idea of a joke.” She made her way across the traffic to pull into the store’s driveway. “Definitely a cruel joke… from partner at a law firm to this? I probably work as a cashier!” she screamed as she got out of the car and stormed into the store.
She glared at the young man behind the counter just inside the entrance.
“Good morning, Jordan,” he chirped with a cheesy grin.
Jordan looked at the tall lanky fellow, his black hair tucked under a black and white striped cap. She read his name tag-‘Billy’.
He continued to grin.
“Billy, do I have to wear a striped shirt like you have on?” She made a face at the broad black and white stripes.
“No, ma’am.” He laughed.
“Good, at least something is going my way this morning.” Jordan left the young man standing with his mouth open. She wandered around the store, through the shoes and skates, past the golf clubs, tennis rackets, and camping gear. She noticed a number of after-Christmas sale signs on various items, as well as a dozen or so employees throughout the store who greeted her at every corner.
The stockroom doors opened and Betty emerged, pushing a cart with half a dozen small boxes. “Well, well, the vanishing woman appears.”
“Good morning, Betty,” Jordan said, trying to be cordial.
“Morning, Jordan.” She stopped next to the taller woman and put her arm around Jordan’s shoulder. “You alright this morning?”
“You and Sarah having problems?”
Slightly annoyed at the invasion, Jordan responded, “No, I just forgot something. Had to run and get it.”
“Jordan, help me put these new hats up.” Betty removed her arm and continued pushing the cart toward a large rack on the back wall.
Jordan followed, continuing to look at the store’s layout.
The two women stopped and began unpacking the boxes and filling empty racks with pro football caps.
“If you need to talk, Jordan, I’m here for you.” Betty stopped working and looked at Jordan. “When Phil died, Sarah and you gave up your lives in New York to move here and help me with the business. I don’t know what I would have done if you both hadn’t shown up here five years ago. I just would have never made it through.”
Jordan pondered Betty’s word. ‘Five years ago? I went to London five years ago…’
“You’re like my own daughter, Jordan. And if you need me, I’m here for you. But if you break Sarah’s heart, or pull any more shit like you did Christmas Day . . .,” Betty paused before continuing, looking Jordan straight in the eye, “this old woman will kick your ass!”
Jordan burst out laughing as she struggled to speak, “I won’t, Betty, I won’t.”
Both women continued to laugh and make jokes while they put away the stock. When they were finished, Betty pushed the cart and empty boxes toward the stock room.
Looking around, Jordan noted another young sales associate in the area wearing a nametag.
“Brad, do I have an office around here?”
Pointing toward the storeroom door, he responded, “Uh yeah, Jordan, it’s up the stairs in the stockroom and to the left.”
Jordan climbed the stairs and turned left. At the end of the hall she came to a closed wooden door with her name on the black nameplate.
Pushing the door open, Jordan looked around the small office. A small wooden desk faced the door. Walking around the desk, she sat down in the metal chair and glanced around. Pricing and supplier lists were attached here and there by pushpins. The desk was covered with file folders, envelopes, and miscellaneous paperwork. Jordan noticed a picture of Sarah, Alexia, and her; they were surrounded by colorful plastic balls, and all three of them had cheesy grins on their face. It appeared to be a party of some sort, perhaps Alexia’s birthday.
Jordan noticed the gleam in the eyes of the Jordan in the picture. In that woman’s life there was no grand scheme of climbing to the top of the world as a lawyer; her life was centered around Sarah and Alexia. Other photos displayed Sarah holding a newborn at the hospital with Jordan hugs them both, Jordan stood next to a small Shetland pony holding on to Alexia, and a tanned and happy Sarah and Jordan standing next to the rail of a cruise ship.
Rotating her chair around and looking at the shelves behind her, Jordan saw a partially hidden frame. She pulled down the papers blocking the frame and looked at the embossed paper it contained.
New York University School of Law, 1994
“So much for this.” She tossed it on the desk. “You never went to London; you stayed here in the States with Sarah…running to her mom’s side and managing the store.”
The phone rang.
“Hello, umm,” Jordan stumbled, “Mather Sporting Goods, this is Jordan.” She listened for a moment. “I have no idea what our inventory levels are.” She listened to the supplier a few minutes longer.
The PA system came to life as a female voice announced, “Jordan to section 2, customer waiting near racquets. Jordan, Section 2.”
“Look, I need to go, just send us what you sent us last month, okay? And keep doing that until I call you back and change it.” She slammed the phone down and made her way down the stairs toward the tennis racquets.
Brad held a racquet with a graphite handle and one with a wooden handle, standing next to an elderly man. Jordan figured the man must have been well into his seventies.
“How can I help?” Jordan asked.
“Mr. Willis would like help getting the best tennis racquet for a left-handed player.”
“Well, Mr. Willis,” Jordan said, smiling at the old man. “I suggest this nice looking light weight metal frame.” Jordan pulled the black-handled frame from Brad’s grasp and handed it to Mr. Willis. “Let me know if I can be of further assistance.” She started to turn away.
Confused, Mr. Willis pushed the black-handled monster back at Brad. “I don’t like that one. I want a wooden racquet,” he demanded. “Miss, I thought you were coming out here to help.”
“Help you?” Jordan questioned. “Well, I can’t help myself. I must admit I’m having trouble understanding just why I’m here at the moment.” She shook her head in bewilderment.
Brad looked around nervously, wondering if this was a test of some type.
“I want a good quality wooden racquet, Miss,” demanded Mr. Willis again.
Turning around, Jordan pulled down a small wooden racquet and rotated the handle between her two hands. “I suggest this one; it’s small and very lightweight.”
The customer nodded and took the racquet, impressed with the woman’s skill. “Okay, this is the one I want.”
Brad sighed in relief. “Of course, Mr. Willis, if I can escort you to the front to check out?”
Jordan was starting back to her office when she ran into Betty and a middle-aged man with graying hair at his temples and wide shoulders.
Betty stopped in mid-sentence. “Jordan, I would like you to meet Harry Brown. Harry, meet my daughter-in-law, Jordan Michaels.”
Brown held his hand out to shake Jordan’s proffered hand. “Ms Michaels, may I call you Jordan?” He smiled warmly. “I’ve heard so much about you, I feel as though we’re old friends.”
The group chuckled.
“Of course, Mr. Brown,” Jordan responded, having no idea who the man was.
Betty interjected, “Jordan, I was just giving Harry the ten cent tour. He’s looking for a supplier for his minor league baseball team. I told him I thought we could handle the additional business.”
“Of course we can handle the business,” Jordan assured him. “But, Harry, are you willing to give us advertising space on your team uniforms?”
Inhaling sharply, Betty tried to control herself.
Jordan jumped in with both feet. “Let’s cut to the chase, Harry. You need a good deal on uniforms and equipment. You want to take your team to the playoffs, get them in the majors. We want to be there with you every step of the way. Your players, our name.”
Harry chuckled. “And what do I get out of this deal?”
Not intimidated by the deal or the stakes, Jordan pushed forward. “Well, we give you the best quality equipment at rock bottom prices. You display our banner by the dugouts and on the field fences. The team wears our logo on their sleeves.”
Betty gave an anxious laugh, as she played with her nametag.
“I’m not sure why I should use Mather’s if I have to display logos and banners,” Harry said, scratching the side of his head.
“Sure, Harry, we’re a mom-and-pop sporting goods store in a small suburb. And any price advantage we could offer you could probably be matched by a large sporting goods supplier,” Jordan continued, meeting Brown’s eyes. “Except we stay in business with one rule that Betty has enforced my entire time here, and Phil Mathers lived up to it his entire time in business-’The customer is always right’.”
“Okay, Jordan, you have my attention.”
“Perhaps a bit of a cliché?” Jordan continued, “The difference is we mean it. We push it every day; every employee makes sure every customer is happy when they leave. We believe it so much, it’s painted on the wall.” Jordan motioned to the rear wall where three-foot high black block letters stated:
THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT
Jordan pushed onward, “Yeah, you could go to another mammoth supplier, probably one that doesn’t want the free advertising, but will they give you the service you receive every time you walk into this store?”
Betty watched, thrilled at last.
“You want help finding the right glove, a proper fitting uniform? Hell, help finding the right ‘cup’- we’re here for you. And you will never get any argument from any of us.”
“And, Harry, best of all, with a large customer base, we can increase our supplier base. In short, we could provide you with pricing decreases as more business comes in, and we can set up overseas suppliers that can provide you with the best quality merchandise.” Jordan smiled, waiting for the sale to close.
Turning towards Betty, Brown nodded. “Wow, Betty, your daughter-in-law is one hard hitter. I’m ready to do business…and agree to the advertising agreements. I want a meeting with the three of us and my lawyer next week to close the deal.” Brown extended his hand to Jordan.
Jordan shook his hand firmly. “Harry, I’ll draw up the contact. What would you say to a five year exclusive contract?”
“Five years seems like a long time…”
“Not at all. I’ll work up the figures and the price decreases that will occur each year. Just set up the meeting next week, and I’ll have it ready to present.”
Grasping her hand one last time, Brown turned to Betty. “Great job, Betty. I’ll see you both next week.”
Smiling, Betty let out a sigh of relief and whispered to Jordan, “Good job!”
New Year’s Eve…
Sarah sighed. “Look, J, we don’t have time for this right now. We’ll talk about it later. Now go get dressed.”
“We don’t have time to go over the figures and requirements for this Brown deal?” Jordan asked.
“Babe, tonight is the Smith’s party.”
“Party? Oh no, I can’t go to a party,” Jordan insisted. “I have two days to be ready with this contract. I have to have the details laid out and ready to go. And you promised both your mom and I that you would have the logo ready for the presentation.”
“I’ll have it ready, Jordan, ” Sarah reassured her, “but you look forward to this party all year.” She shook her head in amazement.
“Sarah I don’t want to go,” Jordan stated flatly.
“Fine. Do whatever you want.” Sarah picked up the phone and began dialing.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m calling my mother to let her know you’ll be staying with Alexia tonight.” Sarah smiled almost evilly. “I’m going to the party.”
Jordan pondered for a moment. ‘A whole evening alone with Alexia? By myself? No Sarah to help?’ “Umm, Sarah, I’ll be ready in ten minutes.” Jordan grinned.
An hour later, Sarah rung the doorbell as Jordan looked around at the pink flamingo lights and Christmas decorations that littered the yard.
“Tacky,” Jordan muttered.
Evie Smith opened the door to find both women laughing. “Evening, Jordan, Sarah. Come in… come in.”
“Good evening, Evie. Looks like a full house already.” Sarah glanced around at a number of guests, waving to them.
Unable to keep her eyes off the exposed breasts, Jordan visibly swallowed hard.
Evie noticed the lecherous look in Jordan’s eyes. “What do you ladies think of my new dress?” She spun around in the tight red dress.
Rolling her eyes, Sarah commented, “It looks wonderful on you, Evie.”
“Tight in all the right places, Evie.” Jordan smiled.
Disgusted with her mate’s visible desire, Sarah headed into the living room to chat with other guests.
Jordan followed Evie, watching the swaying hips and long legs, until she saw Dawn and Jenn sitting on the couch. She dodged around a couple of guests, giving them cordial greetings and then flopped on the couch next to Jenn. “Evening, ladies…enjoying the party?”
Both women smiled and nodded and then Dawn asked, “So Jordan, did you patch things up?”
“Patch things up?” Jordan asked innocently.
Dawn and Jenn both laughed, and Jenn asked, “Jordan, we’re wondering if you were able to smooth things over after running out on Sarah and Alexia on Christmas Day.”
“Oh, that.” Jordan feigned indifference with a shrug. “I forgot a Christmas present and went to pick it up…it took me longer than I thought.” Jordan found Sarah in the crowd, standing with three other women, laughing and using their hands to talk. She watched in fascination the beauty and grace with which her partner moved and fit in with the group of women. Jordan was suddenly aware of something that was missing in her life…desire. Not the desire to close a deal, but the desire that drives you to want to give up everything to please someone else. She smiled at Sarah.
Evie approached the guests on the couch. “Ladies,” she said, presenting a serving tray laden with crab puffs and mini egg rolls, “finger food?” Her breasts almost spilled out of the red satin dress as she leaned down with the plate.
Jordan tried to be polite. “I don’t think so, thank you.”
The plate was not offered to Jenn or Dawn.
“C’mon, Jordan, as soon as I put them down, you’re gonna’ grab a handful of egg rolls.” Evie smiled, her breasts jiggling.
Sarah watched Evie and Jordan from her position on the other side of the room. She saw Evie hold an egg roll to Jordan’s mouth, slowly putting it to her lips. The loud music and guest chatter prevented Sarah from hearing what the pair were speaking about a mere twenty feet away.
Evie pushed the egg roll into Jordan’s mouth as her lips parted. “You know I make an extra two dozen of these every year just for you…”
Struggling to swallow the cold mushy mass, Jordan spoke around the mouthful, “They’re great. Thank you!”
Standing, Evie smiled wickedly before suggestively licking the fingers that had just been in Jordan’s mouth. She handed the entire tray to Jordan. “Enjoy, sweetie.” She turned and wandered to another crowd.
Sarah raised an eyebrow at the exchange and watched Jordan swallow hard while making a face of disgust.
Both in shock at the open flirtation, Dawn and Jenn stared at Jordan.
Finally, Dawn could no longer contain herself. “Jordan! What in the hell was that?!”
Jordan looked at Dawn questioningly and shrugged.
“Jordan, have you lost your mind?” Dawn asked, shock still evident in her voice. “First of all, Evie is married…and second…hello…” Dawn pronounced the name slowly and a little louder, “SARAH?”
“I don’t know; I was just sitting here.” Jordan sulked, the spitting image of Alexia.
Sarah left the crowd with a strained smile and wandered behind the couch to lean down and whisper in Jordan’s ear. “You must really love those egg rolls…”
Smiling, Jordan turned to met the disapproving look in the blue eyes inches from her own. She swallowed hard. “Oh yeah,
they’re…” She mouthed the word, ‘disgusting’.
Sarah gave Jordan a subtle smile and kissed her cheek before walking away to talk to other guests.
Jordan craned her neck to watch the swaying hips covered in faded blue denim. A slap on her leg drew her back from staring at a retreating Sarah.
“How do you do it, Jordan?” Dawn asked in shock. “You sit here and openly flirt with Evie, get her all worked up, and then Sarah saunters over and kisses you after seeing the whole thing…I just don’t get it.”
Shrugging, Jordan turned to watch Sarah a few more minutes before deciding she needed to be closer. Excusing herself, she left to stand behind Sarah and listen to the group of three women and a man talk about their jobs. Jordan was silent, inhaling the sweet smell of Sarah’s perfume.
“Bill, have you thought about teaching at the University?” Sarah questioned.
“Oh, you have to be kidding!” He chuckled as he ran long fingers through his thinning hair and rubbed his stomach before continuing, “I’ve seen those little lecture halls, and kids running around listening to loud music like they know everything…I’ll keep my fat happy butt planted at the investment center.”
The women chuckled.
A short woman, standing next to Bill, asked Sarah, “How’s everything going since taking the assistant job?”
Sarah shifted slightly to stand on one foot. “Great, actually. I really like working in the Lit. Department.” Stepping back, she bumped into Jordan. She turned and started to speak, “Excuse…oh…you.” Her smile was meant only for Jordan.
“Don’t let me interrupt; I was just listening.” Jordan returned the smile.
Turning back to the group, Sarah said, “I really like the new department, and the professor is a great guy, recommending books and such to help me catch up to some of the students I’ve been tutoring…but I really miss not spending more time in the Art Department. Just drawing or painting.” She smiled. “I like having my fingers dirty…”
The group nodded.
Jordan decided to play. She leaned forward and spoke softly in Sarah’s ear, “I can help you get your fingers dirty…okay, maybe just…” her breath was hot as she leaned closer to whisper in a deep sexy tone, “wet…”
Sarah stepped back just enough to have full body contact with Jordan, but didn’t miss a beat in the conversation. “And, since the assistant job pays for the education, I love the ability to take more art classes and a few Lit. classes while deciding what to write my thesis on.” She touched Jordan’s hand. “And the two days a week at home with Alexia is a huge bonus.”
Jordan listened but wondered what had happened to Sarah’s dreams of working in advertising. She was a wonderful artist in college years ago. She missed the rest of the group’s chatter.
Later in the evening, Sarah was curled around Jordan, softly snoring. Jordan was surfing the channels, and stopped on a news announcer, a pretty blonde on the local news channel, who had a large Microsoft logo imposed next to her. Jordan turned the volume up slightly to hear the announcement.
“…Today Microsoft announced that instead of lowering the costs of home computers as expected in 2003, the average price will double…”
Jordan grumbled, “Shit.”
Stirring slightly, Sarah snuggled closer.
“…Microsoft had been working with a number of computer companies in the United States and their Asian counterparts to lower import taxes. The Hong Kong office squashed the deal today when the office opened following the holiday shutdown and the deadline was not met. The agreement between the US and Hong Kong was that the proposal would be in place before Christmas, but as the holiday neared, lawyers were unable to come to an agreement on the specifics of the contract. US consumers will pay the price as component costs climb. No longer will every home own a computer as prices are expected to triple by summer.”
Angry, Jordan turned the television off, pulled free of Sarah, and stomped off into the master bath. Closing the door, she turned on the bright incandescent light and stared in the mirror at her reflection. Her short blonde hair was skewed and standing on end; she contemplated needing a haircut before looking deep into her own eyes. The green pools were shiny in the light. “Fuck, that was my deal!” She turned from the mirror and leaned against the sink, “I spent months on that deal, and now…POOF!” She slid down into a squatting position and just stared into space.
After about ten minutes she stood up and washed her face before leaving the room. She left the bedroom and headed downstairs to the kitchen for something to drink. After pouring a glass of orange juice, she went into the living room and sat down on the end of the couch. Jordan wondered if this wasn’t purgatory. This couldn’t have been what she and Sarah had wanted when they dated in college. They’d had plans; Jordan would become a lawyer and Sarah would make it big in advertising. They would be successful in New York. Now? Jordan wondered what had happened to change their dreams so drastically as she lay down on the couch and went to sleep.
It was mid-January and the weather had been cool and foggy for the last week or so. Jordan’s mood matched the weather; she was depressed and extremely edgy. Sarah hoped that a trip to San Jose for a little shopping at Valley Fair mall would cheer Jordan up.
Jordan sat quietly in the driver’s seat of the SUV, navigating the freeway, as Sarah and Alexia chatted non-stop,( playing word games and singing the entire hour to the shopping mall. She marveled at the ability of the two girls in her life to make games and laughter out of nothing. They just enjoyed life. Jordan also wondered if she had that ability in this alternate life. Did she participate in the nonsense and laughter? Is that what Alexia meant by the missing ‘shine’? She focused on driving.
Sarah held hands with Alexia as the trio strolled the mall; they stopped in the shoe store to pick up a new pair of shoes for Alexia.
“Shoes for me, Mommy?” the child asked happily.
“Yes, Alexia,” Sarah replied. “If your feet continue growing at this rate, you’ll be wearing cars for skates…”
Alexia giggled at the thought of strapping red cars to her feet to skate around the driveway. “I want big yellow trucks…and red belts.” She laughed, pretending to skate through the store with cars tied to her feet. Her little legs were spread wide as she wobbled down the aisle looking at shoes.
Jordan tried to act enthusiastic as Sarah helped her daughter try on new shoes, but it just wasn’t the great time she pretended it to be. Glancing out at the people walking by the store entrance, she wandered away into the mall and looked around at the other stores. Kitty-corner to the shoe store was the entrance to Nordstrom’s; Jordan left the shoe store and strolled through the entrance. Passing the perfume counters and beauty makeovers, she walked into the lady’s wear section and began scanning the racks and feeling the blends of material. Suddenly, she missed the silk blouses and wool pinstriped skirts that were daily wear at the ACEM office. Now she lived in faded denim or khaki pants at Mathers’ Sporting Goods.
Jordan approached a rack and pulled out a dark grey jacket and skirt. Her fingers caressed the soft wool as she traced the thin white line in the pinstriping.
“It’s a perfect color for your hair.”
Jordan turned to see a sales clerk standing behind her. She eyed the woman for a moment before turning away and continuing to enjoy the feel of the material.
The woman pushed slightly, “Miss, would you like to try it on?”
Jordan pulled the suit from the rack and followed the woman toward the dressing rooms.
A few minutes later, Jordan stepped barefoot from the dressing room, the grey skirt the perfect length on her long legs, the jacket buttoned and showing just a small amount of cleavage without a blouse. She looked at her reflection in the corner mirrors outside the small changing room.
“You look amazing,” Sarah declared as she stared, her mouth slightly open.
Jordan turned to find her standing a few feet away, holding Alexia’s hand.
“Wow, J…you really look beautiful.” Sarah continued to stare.
Blushing, Jordan replied, “It’s the weirdest thing…wearing this makes me feel like a different person.”
Alexia noticed the ‘shine’ in Jordan’s eyes, but it wasn’t the shine of her ‘J’. Cocking her head to the side, she continued to watch Jordan intensely.
Looking at the price tag, Jordan contemplated buying the suit. She shook her head, they couldn’t afford it. She sighed , recalling that less than three weeks ago she would have thought little of spending this amount on a nice fitting suit. She retreated to the dressing room to remove the suit and don her well-worn faded jeans and Raiders sweatshirt.
As the family left the mall and headed towards home, Jordan was remote and withdrawn.
Sarah stared out the window, wondering about the sudden change that came over Jordan after removing the skirt.
“Sarah?” Jordan asked, “do you wonder, sometimes, why we never fulfilled the dreams we had in college?”
Turning, Sarah looked at Jordan. “What do you mean, J?”
“Well, I remember how much you wanted to work in advertising…I was going to be a successful lawyer. New York, look out…here we come.” Jordan smiled, reminiscing. “What happened to those days?”
Sarah smiled and glanced back at Alexia, asleep in her car-seat. “Well, Dad’s car accident…then, Alexia.”
Jordan tried to put to together the pieces of this new life…
“We had the sudden trip out here when Dad was in the hospital.” Sarah reached across the car and squeezed Jordan’s leg. “You were great by the way, staying by me the whole time. And not even a day after the ‘big decision”.”
‘Big decision?’ Jordan wondered what the decision was.
Sarah continued, “And then Mom’s breakdown after we got back to New York…”
“It was hard, wasn’t it?” Jordan prodded.
“Yeah, I guess it was.” Sarah’s eyes filled with tears. “J, I still miss him terribly.”
Jordan squeezed the smaller hand still on her thigh. “I know, babe.”
“And Mom, I don’t know how she handles it…but she bounced back eventually. Of course, I think it was because you stepped in and started managing the store while she was still in the hospital. You know, while dad was alive she had little to do in the store but put up merchandise and design displays. She never was one for managing books and money…”
“Not everyone has the patience and business sense to manage money…” Jordan wanted Sarah to tell more of the story.
“But I think the biggest help for her was when we told her about our decision to have a baby. I couldn’t keep your head out of the clouds…you were always fretting over me like a mother hen.” Sarah glanced at Alexia again before smiling at Jordan. “And Mom too! Not that being pregnant was a picnic, but with the two of you around…it was bordering on miserable.”
Jordan questioned, “I wasn’t that bad, was I?”
“Not really. You were great and so open to using a sperm bank. It still seems so…unclean.” Sarah made a face of disgust.
“Unclean? Well, it’s not like I’m equipped for making babies.” Jordan laughed.
Laughing, Sarah leaned across the seat and kissed Jordan’s cheek. “I like your equipment just fine.”
“Good thing, especially after all this time!” Jordan jerked as Sarah’s hand slid between her thighs and cupped her center.
“Guess I’ll have to prove it when we get home.” Sarah smiled wickedly.
Jordan thought about how this life compared to the perfect life she’d had before.
When they arrived home, Sarah carried the bags into the house and Jordan followed, carrying the sleeping Alexia. After taking Alexia’s clothes off and slipping an old T-shirt of Sarah’s over her head, Jordan marveled at how quickly Alexia curled up on her side and entered deep sleep again. She thought how much Alexia was the image of Sarah. Jordan ran her fingers through Alexia’s thick black hair before kissing her cheek and wishing her sweet dreams. Then she went searching for Sarah.
Sarah had carried a couple of bags upstairs and had thrown herself across the bed.
Entering the room, Jordan looked at the peaceful look on Sarah’s face. She bent down and began untying Sarah’s shoes, sliding them from her feet.
“Hmm, do I get a foot rub too?” Sarah lifted her head to look at Jordan’s face.
“Is that what you want?” Jordan asked innocently.
Sarah sat up and grabbed the front of Jordan’s sweatshirt, pulling her down on top of her. “I had a little more in mind…” A sexy smile came from Sarah before the pair began kissing passionately.
Jordan moved to kiss a delicate neck.
“Alexia asleep?” Sarah whispered.
“Uh huh…” Jordan moved back to the soft lips under her.
“Say it, J,” Sarah moaned.
“J, you know what I like to hear.” Sarah pulled Jordan down for another deep kiss.
Jordan was breathless when the kissing stopped. “Of course I know what you like to hear, babe.”
“Then say it.“ Sarah was breathless too. “Tell me…”
Confused, Jordan didn’t know what to say, “Babe, I’m gonna take you to that special place…” She moved in to kiss Sarah again.
Sarah pulled away. “What?”
Jordan realized that wasn’t it.
Pushing Jordan off, Sarah sat up. “I need to check on Alexia.” Disgusted and annoyed, she stomped from the room.
Throwing herself back on the bad, Jordan muttered, “So much for charming her pants off…”
The following weekend Jordan and Sarah packed food, chairs, and toys for Alexia into the SUV for the short drive to the neighborhood park. The neighborhood association was having their annual winter barbeque.
Jordan was beginning to hate how social her life had become, and almost longed for the solitary life in San Francisco without Sarah and Alexia. Then she would look at Sarah, and fall in love all over again. And Alexia was finally starting to slowly warm up to her. She parked the vehicle and began hauling their items to a bench where Betty Mathers was sitting.
“Morning, Betty,” Jordan chimed, setting down a cooler and the stack of chairs she was lugging.
“Hi, sweetie, where’s my…” Betty was cut off as Alexia threw herself into her grandmother’s arms.
“Gu-ma!” she exclaimed, hugging the older woman fiercely.
Sarah came up carrying additional items and a box of toys for Alexia. Setting things down, she leaned down and kissed her mother on the cheek. “J, one more load and we’ll have everything.”
“Okie dokie, I got it.” Jordan retreated to the car to fetch the last few items.
While she was gone, Betty inquired, “Sarah, how are things going?”
“Good, Mom.” She set a blanket out for Alexia and her toys.
Sarah turned to look at her mother questioningly.
“I meant with Jordan, since Christmas.” She paused to look at Jordan closing the back door of the SUV and gathering the items stacked on the ground. “She seems different.” She paused. “I’m not sure how…but slightly different.”
Sitting down on the bench, Sarah met her mother’s eyes. “You know, Mom, at first I thought so too…something…was just not quite the same. I was beginning to think I was losing her, but I think she’s back now.”
Jordan was setting the last of the items down near the table. Glancing around she saw Jenn and Dawn about twenty-five feet away. They were sitting on a blanket playing with their daughter, Becca. Jordan waved to them and they returned the greeting. Continuing to look around she saw various other families she was familiar with from Sarah’s conversations, or by seeing them when she dropped Alexia off at daycare.
The morning progressed with family games, games designed for different age groups, and friendly chatter about house improvements, sports, and children.
Walking back from the restrooms, Jordan noticed a familiar face approaching. Trying to place the woman, she glanced down at the bobbing breasts. She smiled in recognition. “Hi, Evie.”
“Hi Jordan. How are you enjoying the picnic?” Evie smiled and cocked her hip to one side while crossing her arms under her breasts.
Jordan was awestruck by the displayed flesh as it pushed up and spilled from the low-cut tank top Evie was wearing.
Evie winked at Jordan when her eyes finally strayed from the milky flesh back up to her face. “Jordan, if you ever need anything, give me a call.” Smiling, Evie waved to someone behind Jordan before stepping around her and heading toward the person that had waved.
Turning, Jordan watched Evie walk away before calling, “Evie?”
She turned to meet Jordan’s eyes.
Jordan stammered a moment, “Are we…? Have we…?”
“Have we what, Jordan?”
“Are we messing around?” Jordan blushed slightly.
Evie was completely taken back by Jordan’s frankness and question. She stood there with her mouth open, struggling to breathe for a moment. “Are we being honest with each other?
“Well, Jordan, we’ve been dancing around this for years.” Evie looked around to see if anyone was close enough to hear. “When I got my boobs done, I did it because you seem occasionally fascinated with looking at my cleavage. And now I don’t go strapless because Bill likes it.”
‘Bill?’ Jordan tried to recall the name…’Oh yeah, the guy at the party that was “fat and happy”.’
“Our kids are in the same daycare for a reason; it’s my chance to see you. I own three softball gloves and I don’t even like to play the damned game.” Evie looked up into Jordan’s eyes, “So, if you’re asking me whether I’d like it to be more, the answer is yes…and Sarah would never be the wiser.”
Dumbfounded, Jordan stood with her mouth open.
“Bill’s out of town next week. Why don’t you stop by, Jordan–any afternoon.” She turned, leaving Jordan standing there watching her sashay toward Bill.
Dawn slapped her lightly on the back of the head. “Woman, you are playing with fire.”
Jordan turned angrily toward Dawn, rubbing the back of her head.
“That woman is relentless.” Dawn watched as Evie turned and waved at Jordan.
“She wants to have an affair with me.” Jordan returned the wave.
Shocked, Dawn asked, “Evie told you that?”
“Jordan, you’re not really considering cheating on Sarah with that trailer trash are you?”
She didn’t know what to say to the question.
“A little flirtation and looking is harmless, but touching is a definite NO-NO.” Dawn met Jordan’s eyes. “Shit, Jordan, even I’ve got caught checking out her body, but she has no class. She’s trailer trash looking for a first time thrill with another woman. She probably doesn’t even consider it cheating if it’s not another man.”
Jordan looked over at Sarah and Alexia playing on the blanket.
“Don’t throw THAT,” Dawn said, pointing to Sarah and Alexia, “away for a roll in the hay with a flirty, married, curious woman.”
Standing there thinking it over, Jordan watched Sarah as Dawn walked into the restroom.
Movies and Holidays…
Jordan wandered through the quiet house after work. Sarah and Alexia were going to be home late; they’d spent the day with Betty. The house seemed so empty. She longed for the normal chatter she’d become accustomed to over the past month.
Strolling through the living room, Jordan paused to look at some of the family photos framed and hanging on the wall. She noticed the expression on her face with Sarah and Alexia…the only description she could put into words was ‘shit-eating grin’.
She moved on to a pile of videotapes sitting on a shelf above the television. Jordan ran her fingers across the titles-“Trip to Beach,” “Alexia’s 1st Birthday,” and “Alexia’s Birth.” Her finger lingered on the last title. She pulled the tape out and popped it into the VCR.
The tape began to play as Jordan settled on the couch and turned on the television.
Sarah was on the table drenched in sweat, her long hair plastered to her face. She looked so fat. Jordan giggled before noticing the paleness of Sarah’s skin and the pained expression on her face. The camera zoomed in on Sarah’s shaved vagina, red and opening.
Jordan made a face and closed her eyes, slightly nauseated. “Not your best photo…”
The camera angle skewed as the camera was handed to someone else in the room.
Jordan watched as the alternate Jordan rushed to Sarah’s side.
Jordan spoke in calming tones to Sarah, telling her to focus on her breathing. It didn’t seem to be working because Sarah continued to scream and tears ran down her pale cheeks.
The doctor was sitting between Saran’s thighs, examining the position of the baby and Sarah’s opening.
The nurse’s eyes were glued to the monitor, watching Sarah and the baby’s vitals.
Jordan’s arm was wrapped around Sarah’s back as she tried to help ease the pain, but she looked slightly panicked.
The nurse spoke, “Doctor, the baby’s vitals are continuing to drop.”
The doctor stood up and spoke in a very serious tone.
Jordan couldn’t hear his words, so she turned up the volume and rewound the tape a bit.
The tape started again. “Sarah, the cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck. If you push right now, you could kill her.”
The room was silent as Sarah stopped screaming, her face now contorted with pain and concern.
“We are going to have to take the baby by Caesarian.”
The camera clicked off…
The blackness startled Jordan as she sat there, staring at the screen as though she didn’t know the conclusion. She knew both Alexia and Sarah were fine; she’d kissed them goodbye this morning before heading to work. Yet she was overcome with a feeling of dread and despair.
The blackness continued and then static appeared…then there was Alexia, screaming and covered in blood and muck. Her thick black hair so gooey that it looked like she had spiked it with thick gel, and her face was wrinkled and distorted as she wailed in the close-up. The camera followed Alexia through the bathing and cleaning out her nose.
Jordan smiled when Alexia was finally placed in Sarah’s arms.
There filling the screen was Jordan wrapped around Sarah, who was holding a very tiny bundle wrapped in a white blanket. Sarah looked exhausted, but very happy.
Jordan released the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.
In the video, Sarah turned and kissed Jordan on the cheek.
Jordan smiled, watching this other version of herself in the video; the center of that Jordan’s life was held in her arms at the close of the video-Sarah and Alexia.
She clicked off the television.
The following morning the shrill beeping of the alarm pulled Jordan from a pleasant dream.
Sarah reached over Jordan and turned off the noise. “Time to get up, honey.”
Groaning, Jordan got out of bed and felt her way down the hallway. She paused at a partially closed door. “Time to get up munchkin.” She continued to feel her way down the stairs. In the kitchen she flipped on the coffee pot and sat down at the table, waiting for the wake-up juice to brew. Jerking awake, Jordan realized she’d fallen back to sleep with her head on the table. “Why do mornings come so early?” she grumbled as she poured two mugs of coffee and headed back up the stairs.
Sarah was sitting up on the bed, wide-awake and grinning. She held up a large box wrapped in pale blue paper and a silver bow.
Mouth agape, Jordan stood in the doorway, frantically trying to place the date.
“Happy Anniversary, J!” Sarah smiled widely.
Jordan’s blood froze; her only thought was ‘What in the hell do I do now?’ She forced a half-hearted grin and approached the bed, handing Sarah a cup of coffee.
“J, come on, open your present.” Sarah was ecstatic.
“Maybe I should wait, hon.” Jordan put her coffee down on the nightstand.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, Jordan hesitated. Finally, giving in to the beaming Sarah, she began unwrapping; pulling the tissue paper away, she revealed the grey pinstriped outfit from Nordstrom’s. “Sarah, you shouldn’t have.” She smiled happily, pulling the jacket from the box.
“J, how could I NOT get it for you?” Sarah leaned over to kiss Jordan. “After seeing how you looked in it at the store. God, you looked fantastic!”
Jordan was overcome with emotion and didn’t know what to say. She looked up to meet Sarah’s eyes. “You really are incredible.”
“Enjoy it, J.”
Jordan looked at Sarah, and suddenly remembered she had nothing to exchange. ‘I‘m screwed…’ she thought. “Sarah, I know you’re probably expecting something right now…but I hadn’t…planned on, uh, giving you your gift until this evening,” she stuttered.
Sarah stared in shock. “What are you talking about? You never wait! You can barely wait for the sun to come up. Usually you’re waking me up before the light of day for a little morning lovin’ and gift exchange before Alexia is even stirring…”
“I know that, but…” Stuttering again, Jordan continued to dig her grave.
Sarah teared up as she suddenly realized what the stuttering indicated. “Jordan Michaels, you forgot.”
Jordan sat there silently, unable to meet Sarah’s eyes.
“I can’t believe that you actually forgot our anniversary.” Tears of anger and hurt slid down Sarah’s face. “Damn, Jordan. Is this where we’re at now? Suddenly I have to drop hints weeks before our anniversary to remind you?”
Jordan looked at the tears on Sarah’s face and wished she was dead. “Sarah, please don’t cry…”
Sarah wiped the tear away but they just kept coming. “Do you want me to start reminding you of birthday’s and other special days too? Give you time to chase younger pussy and firmer boobs around…”
“It’s not like that at all, Sarah,” Jordan pleaded.
“After eight years, you suddenly forget our anniversary…” Sarah became hysterical. “Maybe I should get a tit job like Evie, keep your interest if my tits are hanging out all the time…”
Moving to console Sarah, Jordan was pushed away as Sarah jumped off the bed and ran to the bathroom. Jordan turned around to see Alexia standing in the doorway of the bedroom, a frown on her face. “You messed up big time…”
“I know.” Jordan nodded pathetically.
“I think you’d better make some frank toast to start making her happy.” Alexia turned away and headed down the stairs.
Jordan glanced at the bathroom door; she could still hear Sarah sobbing in the bathroom. Resigned, she followed Alexia downstairs to the kitchen.
Alexia was busy pulling items from the refrigerator. She placed the carton of eggs on the counter, then walked back and pulled the gallon of milk off the shelf. Struggling she lugged the plastic container to the counter and tried to lift it just as Jordan walked in.
Jordan rushed over and helped Alexia slide the milk up onto the counter.
Pulling a chair over to the counter, Alexia directed Jordan to get the last few items needed. “You still need the brown powder and the ‘nilla.”
Suddenly struck with insight, Jordan asked, “Am I making French Toast?”
“Uh huh, Mom loves your frank toast.” Alexia nodded vigorously.
Retrieving the last few items needed to make French Toast, Jordan set out to make something she hadn’t made since she and Sarah dated six or seven years earlier.
Alexia watched. “Not bad, you know the secret recipe of my ‘J’.”
“I think I can manage this one.” Jordan smiled. “I used to make it every Sunday…” She cut off her words before she finished the sentence with ‘for Sarah’.
“I shoulda’ warned you.” Alexia jumped from the chair to sit on the counter. “J always does something really big for their anna-varsity.”
Jordan flipped the bread over in the skillet. “Like what?”
“Last year J had a solar system named after Mom.”
“Don’t you think that’s kinda cheesy?”
“Mom loved it.” Alexia smiled. “They used to sit outside and look up at it all the time.”
“Maybe I could get her a pair of earrings or something?” Jordan asked as she pulled the last couple of pieces of bread from the skillet.
“You did forget; I don’t think Mom’s gonna want some earrings.”
“Right. That’s a major oversight…and it’s going to need a big present to make up for it. Did ‘J’ ever take her to the city for a night out?
Alexia smiled, impressed with the taste of the bread covered in butter and powdered sugar. She swallowed. “You’re almost as good as my ‘J’.”
Later in the afternoon, Alexia sat on the edge of the bed, kicking Max as he lay on the floor. She was watching her mother get dressed.
Wearing a thin silky slip, Sarah walked out of the closet carrying two dresses, a dark red one with quarter sleeves and a sexy little black number that looked like it would cover less than her slip. She held the two dresses up for Alexia to see. First she placed the red one in front of her, and then the black one. “Which do you like?”
Alexia thought about it seriously for a minute. Placing her forefinger on her chin, she pondered. “The black one.”
Sarah nodded, turned around, and placed the red dress back in the closet. She put the black dress on the bed and sat down in front of the vanity mirror to finish her makeup. Looking at Alexia in the mirror, she said, “Alexia, you know that sometimes parents fight; it’s part of being in love.”
“I know.” Alexia was rubbing Max’s back with her feet again.
Almost sounding like she was trying to convince herself more than the child, Sarah continued, “It doesn’t mean we don’t love each other, or that we aren’t staying together…”
“I’m not worried, Mom. Our ‘J’ will be back…”
Sarah raised an eyebrow at the words of one so young, then nodded. She turned around to face Alexia. “C’mere, o’ wise one.” Sarah opened the lipstick in her hand.
Excited at getting to wear makeup, Alexia jumped off the bed and ran into her mom’s arms.
Applying a small amount of red lipstick to Alexia’s lips, Sarah turned and applied a heavier amount to her own. “Now go like this.” Sarah rubbed her lips together, showing Alexia how to do it.
Alexia mimicked her mother then looked up at Sarah, beaming.
“You’re gonna break a lot of hearts, Alexia. “ Sarah smiled at her beautiful little girl. “You know that, right?”
Continuing to smile, Alexia nodded.
“Just like her mother,” Jordan replied, leaning against the doorframe. She’d been watching Sarah and Alexia interact for a few minutes.
The doorbell rang.
Alexia ran for the door, yelling, “Gu-ma, gu-ma.”
A little while later, Jordan pulled the SUV up in front of a small, elegant French restaurant hidden on a small side street in downtown San Francisco.
The valet opened the door for Sarah; her black dress hugged every curve as she stepped from the car.
Jordan watched from the driver’s seat, suddenly realizing that although the pinstriped outfit was well tailored and fit her well, she came nowhere near looking as sexy as Sarah did in a simple off-the-rack inexpensive dress.
As the valet drove the car away, Jordan led Sarah into the quiet and intimate little restaurant. She whispered into Sarah’s ear as they approached the door, “You look beautiful.”
Sarah flashed a charming smile as she looked around the main room-elegant carved tables covered in linens, silver, and crystal; French country décor; and a portly pianist playing a soft melody on a large black piano. Sitting down as the chair was pulled out for her, Sarah waited until they were alone. “J…can we afford this?”
Shrugging, Jordan responded nonchalantly, “What’s the difference? I’m taking my baby out for our anniversary. To hell with the cost.”
A chuckle. “How do you even know about this place?”
Jordan was caught. “Ah, Jenn. She said that she and Dawn found an extremely romantic little place in the city.” She smiled, hoping Sarah would buy the lie as she kissed her on the cheek.
The waiter stood quietly next to the table, waiting to be acknowledged.
Looking up, Jordan noticed the quiet waiter; he was turned with his side to the table, allowing the women some privacy before taking their order. Without picking up the menu, Jordan began to order for the two of them. “We’ll have the tureen of quail breast with shiitake mushrooms to start.” She looked at Sarah for a moment before continuing, “Then the veal medallions in raspberry truffle sauce and the sea scallops with pureed artichoke hearts. Please make sure the chef uses sea scallops.”
Sarah stared at Jordan, both confused and in awe of the skill Jordan had called on from some unknown place to order their dinner.
The waiter bowed his head slightly. “Very good, Miss. And may I say those are all excellent selections for a fine dinner.
Jordan smiled broadly. “You may…” She looked at the wine list; most of the great wines for this meal were certainly out of their league at $350 – $500 a bottle. She sighed. “And a glass of red wine for each of us.”
The waiter nodded and then walked toward the kitchen.
Sipping her water, Sarah spoke, “You are so not off the hook yet.”
“But I’m gettin’ close, right?” Jordan hoped.
A noncommittal shrug from Sarah was the response.
Then Jordan noticed Sarah looking at the pianist, drawn in by the music; she was humming the music quietly.
“Do you want to dance?”
Sarah looked at Jordan, puzzled by the question. “There’s nobody else dancing. There isn’t even room to dance. And what would they say to us dancing in the middle of this posh restaurant?”
Standing up, Jordan held out her hand. “There’s plenty of room, and since when did you start caring what people thought about us being together?”
Sarah looked around again, and then she smiled before taking Jordan’s hand.
Pulling her close, Jordan wrapped her arms around Sarah and began slowly swaying in the limited space. She led their dance with confidence, her face lit with a smile telling everyone she ruled the world.
The pianist looked up, smiling at their appreciation of this romantic moment.
Sarah followed Jordan’s lead comfortably, perfectly in sync with her. She stared into the deep green eyes just inches above her face, love and passion reflected back.
Everyone in the restaurant stared at the pair. Some of the patrons were impressed while others scoffed at the obvious display of affection. A few were clearly charmed by the complete lack of concern the two women displayed as they danced.
Sarah whispered, “I love you.”
Jordan flashed her most charming smile. “I love you.”
They continued to dance in a world of their own until the song ended. Pausing, they looked into each other’s eyes for a moment, and a few people in the restaurant began clapping. Slightly embarrassed by the attention, Jordan and Sarah sat down.
Fifteen minutes later, Sarah and Jordan were enjoying their gourmet meal. Jordan held out her fork with a piece of veal for Sarah.
She took the bite and savored the flavor. “Mmmm…” Sarah speared a scallop. “Try one of these.”
Jordan took the pro-offered scallop from Sarah’s fork. She relished the taste. “God, I love that taste.”
Jordan asked, “Why are you laughing?
“I guess I’m enjoying myself.”
“Good!” Jordan paused. “Sarah, I need to tell you something.”
Sarah almost choked on her food because of the seriousness of Jordan’s tone. “Okay.”
“I think it may help us but there’s a slight chance it could make things worse.”
“Now I’m worried…just say it.” Sarah set her fork down. “Whatever it is, we’ll deal with it.
“Are you sure?”
Jordan searched for the right words. “I feel like I’m living someone else’s life…”
Fearing the worst, Sarah nodded, hoping Jordan would continue, but at the same time fearing the words that were about to come.
“I used to be so sure about everything, you know? I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted. Then one morning I woke up and suddenly it was all different…” Jordan wiped her mouth with her napkin.
“Do you mean suddenly your life was worse?” Sarah feared the answer.
“No. Well, maybe a few things. But mostly it was just very different.” Jordan smiled, trying to reassure Sarah. “I never used to be like this, Sarah. I had it all figured out. No doubts, no regrets. I had everything…”
“And now…I don’t know anything.” Jordan looked at Sarah, desperately hoping she grasped her words.
Jordan looked questioningly at Sarah.
“I think it’s good to be a little unsure about who you are, J. It’s very human.” Sarah softly smiled.
“But, Sarah, you always seem so certain…so sure of yourself.”
“C’mon, J, you think there aren’t mornings when I wake up and wonder what the hell I’m doing?”
“I guess I thought you knew everything.”
Sarah chuckled. “J, I’m still in college, no goal for my Master’s…and you’ve seen my paycheck.”
This time it was Jordan that chuckled.
“God, sometimes I think it would be so nice not to have to stretch ground beef or maybe drive a new car with a CD player…I imagine having a life where everything was easy…where I ask for things and people just bring them to me…”
“Wouldn’t that be wonderful,” Jordan agreed, remembering what it was like to demand things and have her wishes followed.
“I think about it, too, J. I do. I think the kind of person I’d be if I hadn’t stayed with you.”
“And?” Now it was Jordan’s turn to be afraid of Sarah’s potential answer.
Sarah stopped for a moment, considering the answer. Then smiling, she answered, “And I realize I’ve just erased the things in my life I love the most…you and Alexia.”
“The good things,” Jordan agreed.
“J, what are you sure about?”
Jordan looked deep into Sarah’s eyes. “I’m sure that right now there’s nowhere I’d rather be than with you.”
Sarah’s smile was full of love.
Standing up, Jordan pulled Sarah along. “I have one more surprise for you…”
A short time later the SUV pulled into the parking lot of a small charming-yet-elegant hotel overlooking the ocean.
Jordan opened the door wide and allowed Sarah to enter their suite.
Sarah wandered around the room looking at the antique furniture. To her it was like walking into another world of the finer things. She murmured, “This is so beautiful.”
Smiling, Jordan pulled the champagne bottle out of the silver ice bucket and began opening it.
“J, you know champagne makes me do crazy things,” Sarah teased.
“Well then, I’ll just full yours up to the top.” Jordan filled the glass nearly to the top before handing it to Sarah and toasting, “Happy anniversary, hon.”
Sarah smiled as their glasses clinked together.
“I don’t know how you did it, babe, but you pulled it off.”
“Does this mean I’m outta the doghouse?” Jordan joked.
“Way out,” Sarah answered as she sauntered into the bedroom. She looked at the large king-sized four-poster bed, then felt the down quilt.
Jordan followed with the ice bucket and champagne.
“You may even get lucky tonight.” Sarah pulled Jordan down for a kiss. Their lips parted and tongues met.
When the kiss broke, Jordan stood looking deep into Sarah’s blue eyes. “You’re so…beautiful.”
“I already told you, you’re gonna get lucky tonight.” Sarah teased.
This time the kiss was long and soulful. Jordan suddenly pulled back and met Sarah’s surprised look. “My god, all this time, Sarah…and I never stopped loving you.”
Sarah smiled widely. “That’s all I wanted to hear.” She pulled Jordan down into a deep kiss as she backed up toward the soft looking bed.
The following morning the sun streamed into the hotel room. Sarah was curled around Jordan, her head on Jordan’s chest. The covers were piled on the end of the bed and both women slept, naked and content.
Jordan opened her eyes, trying to slowly adjust to the brightness before looking down at Sarah.
Stirring from a light slumber, Sarah gently stroked Jordan’s chest. “Mmmm…J.” She lifted her head to look up at her lover. “I feel like I should give you money.”
Jordan broke out in unabashed laughter.
“Damn, J, you’ve always been a great lover, but last night…then this morning…” Sarah purred softly before laying her head back down and snuggling closer. “I could stay like this forever.” She kissed the flesh under her lips; the smell of sex still lingered in the room.
“I don’t think I’d fight you.” Jordan reached down and started rubbing Sarah’s back, her hand caressing lower until she was cupping the firm flesh of Sarah’s backside.
Sarah lifted her head, smiling wickedly. “What time is checkout?” She moved up to sit on Jordan’s mid-section and positioned herself for a couple of passionate kisses as their breasts met.
The following morning Jordan sat at the kitchen table reading the newspaper as Alexia ran through the room chasing Max. Jordan lowered the paper to watch Max run around the corner, a Barbie doll head sticking out the side of his mouth. She sipped her coffee.
“Max, MAX,” Alexia screamed after him, “that’s mine!”
Jordan chuckled and went back to reading the paper.
Moments later, Sarah came down the stairs, still dressed in her bathrobe. “Coffee…I need coffee.”
Jordan reached out, grabbed the passing body, and pulled Sarah into her lap. “Morning.” She kissed Sarah deeply.
Responding, Sarah pulled away after a few moments. “J, I haven’t even had a shower or brushed my teeth…”
“So?” She moved in for another kiss.
A weak excuse, “You’ll be late…”
The words were cut off as Jordan began passionately kissing the dark-haired woman on her lap.
Just then, Alexia rounded the corner after Max. “Don’t you guys ever get enough?” She stood before the kissing pair.
Sarah turned and looked at her daughter. “Nope.” She turned to kiss Jordan again.
Alexia sighed and went yelling after Max again.
Opening the double wooden doors, Jordan led the way into a large apartment near downtown San Francisco.
Sarah looked around at the elegant furnishings and artwork.
“What do you think?” Jordan asked, following Sarah through the large rooms.
“The place is incredible…marble floors, high ceilings, elegant furniture…it’s nice,” Sarah responded.
“Pretty incredible, isn’t it?”
Sarah joked, “Yeah, it’s kinda like a museum.” Sarah sat down in a high-backed chair. “So what’s the big surprise? You didn’t rent this place for the weekend, did you?”
“Think bigger, Sarah.”
“For the week?”
Jordan chuckled. “Sarah, this place is a perk.”
“A perk?” Sarah wondered. “For what?
“The Brown League. This house is used to attract new players to the league.”
Sarah’s confusion was obvious.
“You’re talking to their new Vice President of Purchasing.
“J, what are you talking about?”
Jordan knelt before Sarah. “I’ve been offered a position by Harry Brown. He wants me to head up the purchasing group in his league. Basically, I would setup the contracts and advertising for the entire league. And best of all, I’ll be making one hundred grand a year plus a hefty bonus on savings. And that’s just to start.” Jordan was speaking fast in her excitement. “We can live in this apartment rent free for the next year.”
Sarah stared around in shock.
“We can afford to move back into the city.”
“Are you out of your mind?”
“I don’t think so.” Jordan was confused by Sarah’s reaction. “I thought I was improving our life-more money, better job. We could put Alexia in a private school.”
“Alexia goes to a great school now. What about my Mom and the sporting goods store?” Sarah looked at Jordan. “What about me and the University?”
“I was thinking about all of that-better schools for Alexia, the chance for you not to have to work and finish your Master’s thesis.” She swallowed before continuing. “And your mom is doing great and can manage the store on her own.”
“I thought we agreed about not raising Alexia in a city? Too much crime and such.”
Jordan struggled to understand Sarah’s resistance. “Sarah, I’m sensing some tension over this. We don’t have to live in this apartment. I can commute.”
“Daily? In traffic? It’s over an hour each way. That’s almost three hours a day. When would you spend time with Alexia? With me?” Sarah was distraught over the very thought.
Frustrated, Jordan reasoned, “Sarah, you’re not understanding me. I’m talking about the dreams we had when we were young. The perfect life. You said life has thrown us some curves, and we made sacrifices, rarely thinking of ourselves. But now we can do that…and I could help with this job.”
Sarah didn’t know what to say.
“Think about it. No more meals at McDonald’s, no more clipping coupons, someone listening to your every whim and getting it for you…”
“Don’t you think you should have told me you were trying to get a new career? You want to move Alexia from the only home she’s ever known, the friends she’s grown up with. Shit, Jordan, what about Max? We’ve become a family.” Sarah stood up, tears flowing freely. “Don’t change that. Especially without us talking about it…”
“Babe, you’re making more out of this then I meant it to be. I was trying to take a step forward in our lives. I’m talking about us finally having a life other people envy.”
Sarah was silent as she wiped the tears away and glared at Jordan. “They already envy us.” She turned and walked out of the apartment.
Sarah’s mom was just leaving as Jordan carried Alexia upstairs to tuck her in. Setting the child down, she looked at the dozen picture frames on Alexia’s dresser. In all the pictures, the other Jordan was contented and happy; the family was always smiling or laughing, just being together.
Alexia placed a T-shirt in Jordan’s hand. “I want to wear this one tonight.”
Jordan lifted the shirt and read the faded “NYC” printed across the front. “Okay, munchkin.” She helped Alexia out of her clothes and into the worn old shirt before kissing her on the cheek and tucking her into bed.
Alexia reached up and pulled Jordan down, looking for a moment deep into her eyes. Finally, Alexia hugged her fiercely. “I knew you’d come back…my ‘J’.”
Pulling away, Jordan smiled at Alexia and kissed her on the cheek one more time.
Walking down the stairs, Jordan was caught up in Alexia’s words. She looked around for Sarah. Not seeing her, she went into the living room and began scanning the photographs on the wall and shelves. She was fascinated with the other ‘J’.
Her finger traced a smile in a photo on the shelf. Her attention was suddenly drawn to the spine of a very tattered book; she pulled it from its home in the bookcase. She smiled in recognition; it was the poetry book she and Sarah had spent hours reading. An oversized envelope was poking out of the center of the book. Jordan pulled the envelope out…a United ticket jacket. She slowly opened the jacket and read the stamped boarding pass. ‘From: London/Heathrow, To: New York/JFK, 4/28/96’.”
Jordan was confused. ‘From London to New York?’ She whispered to herself, “I came back…”
Jordan turned to find Sarah walking in the front door.
Stopping, Sarah noticed that Jordan was holding the poetry book and the United ticket sleeve. “One of our greatest decisions.”
Puzzled, Jordan looked at Sarah.
“When you got on that plane I was sure it was over. I stood waiting at the closed doors for an eternity, just willing them to open and for you to not be on that plane as it pulled away. Finally I left the airport, afraid I’d never see you again.” Sarah stepped into the room and sat on the couch. “And then you showed up the very next day, flowers in hand, begging me to forgive you. That was a great surprise.”
Jordan sat down in the chair next to the couch.
“I think about you on that plane, about what must have been going through your mind. Were you sitting there wondering what our life would be like together? Our life apart? I think about the decision you made…everything you gave up by not going.”
Jordan watched in fascination as Sarah sighed before continuing.
“Maybe I was being naive but I believed we’d grow old together in this house, that we’d spend holidays here with our grandchildren. I had this image of us all grey and wrinkly, working in the back garden, playing catch with Alexia’s little boy…” Sarah smiled at the thought of a grown up Alexia. “People change, right? If this is what you really need, Jordan, I mean really need, I’ll take Alexia from everything and everyone she’s ever known outside of this house. And I will take myself from what I perceived was our happy little home, and we will move wherever you think you need to be. I’ll do this because I love you.”
Watching, Jordan realized that Sarah was willing to make this sacrifice only because she felt she owed Jordan because of her sacrifice years before.
“I love you, J. And that’s the most important thing about us.” Sarah leaned over and kissed Jordan on the cheek. “I will always choose us.” She stood up and left Jordan staring at the boarding pass.
Unsure what to do, Jordan stayed downstairs for some time, working through the options. Making up her mind, she headed upstairs.
The lights were off; the glow of the television cast blue hues on Sarah’s sleeping face.
Jordan quietly slipped out of her clothes and lifted the covers to climb in next to Sarah.
Sarah turned over, putting her arm around Jordan’s warm naked body. Drawing Jordan deeper into her embrace, she nestled her head on Jordan’s shoulder and slipped back into a deep sleep.
Savoring the closeness and response of Sarah’s body, Jordan smiled before closing her eyes and drifting off to sleep.
The sun had set about three hours ago; Jordan was in the yard gathering Alexia’s toys and placing them in the garage.
Jordan turned from the garage, annoyed by the honking horn. She looked at the blue Ferrari questioningly. A glimmer of recognition crossed her face as she walked toward the intruder.
The passenger window rolled down.
Squatting down, Jordan looked into the car.
“How’s life treating you, J?”
Sighing, Jordan shook her head. “Will…” The color slowly drained from her face. “What are you doing here?”
“Jordan, it’s good to see you too,” Will joked.
“You’re not sending me back.” Jordan glared at Will.
“What were you doing out here, J?” He leaned forward and glanced at her casual dress. “Sweats and a T-shirt? I would have never imagined you dressed down. Look at you, all domestic and shit…” He smiled charmingly. “You really figured some things out, huh?”
Firmly, Jordan continued, “Did you hear me?! I’m not going back! ”
Compassion on his face, Will looked at Jordan.
“I’m not going back, do you understand?!” Jordan was becoming frantic. “You can’t do this. You can’t keep coming in and out of people’s lives, changing things, then changing them back.”
“C’mon, J, you know what the word ‘glimpse’ means? It’s by nature an impermanent thing.
Jordan stood and strode away. “I’m staying.” She entered the house and closed the door, throwing the bolt before pulling the curtain back and looking at the empty street.
Angry and hurt, Jordan wandered through the house. Her thoughts focused on the things she used to have and the things she had now. Life had moved from unhappiness and having everything, to happiness and having nothing. She crept into Alexia’s room, kissing her softly on the cheek.
“Is it morning?” Alexia stirred.
“No, honey.” Jordan pulled the quilt up to cover the small form. “Go back to sleep.”
Sadly, Jordan whispered, “Take care of yourself, Alexia. It’s time for your ‘J’ to come home, and me to go home.” She turned and slowly left the room.
Slipping into the master bedroom, Jordan noticed Sarah was reading a book.
“Hey you, coming to bed soon?” Sarah smiled.
Jordan sat on the edge of the bed. “Sarah, I know that these last few months I’ve done some, let’s just say, some unusual things.”
Nodding, Sarah replied, “It’s been interesting.”
“But I’ve done some good things too, right?”
“You’ve been yourself; you always do some things a little different than most.” She kissed Jordan on the cheek.
“Sarah, I need you to remember me, how I am right this very moment. I need you to put that image in your heart and keep it with you forever.”
“Are you okay?”
“Just promise me you’ll do that. Because if you don’t, then it’s like it never happened, that it was merely a dream. And I don’t think I could handle that…”
Confused, Sarah nodded. “I promise.”
“Promise me again…”
“I promise, Jordan. Now come to bed.” Sarah smiled sweetly. “I’ll seal my promise.”
Jordan stripped out of her clothes and slid between the sheets, her body less than an inch from Sarah’s when she turned to stare into blue eyes.
Feeling Jordan’s hot breath on her cheek, Sarah’s eyes fluttered closed and she leaned forward, seeking the sweet lips of her lover. Wanting more, her lips parted and she licked Jordan’s lower lip, seeking entry into the moist haven she longed to taste
Struggling for breath, Jordan pulled back to catch her breath and control the desire she felt from Sarah’s kiss.
Sarah wanted more, needed more…she pushed Jordan onto her back and leaned down for another passionate kiss.
Long fingers slid into Sarah’s dark mane, as Jordan pulled her down and deeper into their kiss.
Groaning, Sarah slid onto Jordan’s body and positioned herself to have full body contact. She pulled away less than an inch. “Say it, J.”
Jordan teased, “Say what?”
“Don’t do this to me, Jordan…I want you,” Sarah moaned as she ground her pelvis into Jordan.
“Sarah, I love you…”
Long after Sarah had fallen asleep, Jordan continued to lay awake. She listened to Sarah’s breathing; she watched every movement of her eyelids, every muscle twitch. Finally her own eyes grew heavy and she slipped into slumber.
The morning light shone on Jordan’s face; she rolled away from the intrusion and stretched her arms out toward Sarah. The bed was empty…
The phone began ringing…
She opened her eyes and looked at the empty pillow.
The phone was still ringing…
Jordan ignored the shrill noise and began to cry.
“Jordan, phone…” Sarah shook her foot.
Jordan jerked to a sitting position; she stared at Sarah while wiping the tears from her cheeks.
“Yeah, bad dreams this morning…” Jordan reached for a tissue to wipe the snot from her nose.
“Oh, okay.” Sarah shoved the phone toward Jordan. “We can talk about it after you take this call. The guy says it’s an emergency.”
Jordan took the phone as Sarah settled on the bed and quietly comforted her.
“Hello?” A long pause. “Yes, this is Jordan Michaels.” She listened intently as Sarah stretched out next to her. Jordan’s hand found Sarah’s and intertwined fingers. She smiled.
After five minutes or so of listening, Jordan finally spoke, “Right now I do.” She clicked the phone button to disconnect the call and set the receiver down on the nightstand.
“Who was that, J?” Sarah asked curiously.
Chuckling, Jordan answered, “You would never believe me if I told you.”
“Okay, it was Will, my guardian angel.” Jordan looked at Sarah to see if she was buying the story.
“He was calling to ask me if I really did have everything before…” She chuckled. “Or did I have everything now?”
“What was your answer, J?” Sarah wondered.
Leaning in to kiss Sarah’s lips, Jordan whispered her answer, “I have everything…now!”